If you were at the Common Ground delegates Assembly yesterday, chances are your hands may be a little sore from all of the clapping – and rightfully so. We have great reason to applaud. With over 1,250 attendees, it was a celebration of the many victories we have seen since our Founding Convention four years ago.
Through our partnered efforts, Common Ground has been a positive catalyst for change in our community. We shared the great strides of our issue campaigns for housing (Milwaukee Rising), education (It’s About Our Children) and healthcare (Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative). This gathering brought the message home with personal testimonials, compelling videos and recognition of key players who have made our efforts possible – not to mention a rousing chorus from Mt. Hermon and Shiloh Missionary Baptist choirs.
Since its inception, Common Ground has set out to make the vision of “liberty and justice for all” a reality for those who feel removed from the process, as we were reminded by Reverend Steven Andrew Miller. It is clear; through our community organizing we are one step closer to standing on common ground with community decision makers. Our voices have been heard and lives have been impacted.
Lives like Randy Jones, who as a child would play “my house, your house” with his brother as they rode the Sherman Ave bus their father drove. Now, as new homeowner of one of houses rehabbed by the Milwaukee Rising program Randy can happily say, “that’s my house” and mean it. His story is one of 100 home owners we hope to impact.
Lives like Martin Sinclair, one of the first employees of the 180 Properties program, who gave an emotional thank you to Common Ground for helping turn his life around. After life on the Milwaukee streets was steering him to one of crime, he found himself praying for second chance. “Now, I’m living one,” Martin said to a standing ovation. “Here I am, I have a second chance.”
Lives like Jennifer O’Hear and Ternase Jones, who saw that the millions of dollars earmarked for MPS – SES Tutoring program was being caught up in process and mismanagement while their children paid the price. Now, with a commitment from our state and local superintendents, Common Ground will have a say in how the new afterschool programs will be redesigned.
Lives like the thousands of people in Southeastern Wisconsin, who are uninsured or underinsured due to the astronomical costs of healthcare and have to make the painful choice between medical care and financial survival. With the formation of our Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative, we have the funding, the support of legislators and the local healthcare systems to make our co-op a viable option for small businesses, non-profits and consumers.
This, our fourth delegate’s assembly, saw some of the most visible proof of positive change that we have seen to date. We gave thanks to the member organizations, the financial institutions and the community partners who have helped make our goals a reality. We designated Common Ground Heroes and presented them with our Common Ground Hero awards. There were many highlights and these are but a few.
While we have much to celebrate, our work has only begun. “If not us, then who?” Reverend Carl Griffin questioned. The event ended with his repeated rally cry “Keep showing up and keep on building Common Ground!” Are you in?