Common Ground

There are two things that interest me: the relationship of people to each other and the relationship of people to the land.

- Aldo Leopold

Project Introduction

Conservation of our natural resources thrives when people feel deep, personal connections to the natural world. Those connections are most powerfully explored and illustrated not through the recitation of facts, figures, and stats, but through communal sharing of stories and memories of our experiences in nature.

Common Ground allows participants to conduct and record short interviews with people they love, care about, and respect, interviews focused on concrete experiences and memories that help participants explain their love for and connection to the natural world.

Common Ground brings together people of all generations, ages, backgrounds, knowledge bases, places of residence, and political persuasions to give voice in their own words to the important role that the natural world plays in their lives. The project aims to help people not only acknowledge their own connections to the natural world, but also build relationships with others who feel the same. We hope to show that—despite perceived differences—our common (though unique) experiences in nature are fertile ground for building relationships and coming together to work toward a collective goal: the protection of our natural resources.

Want to Participate?

We are actively looking to spread Common Ground across the state. We need both community facilitators that will help provide opportunities for their community to share its stories and participants who are willing to conduct and give interviews. If you are interested in being a community facilitator, contact Lilly Jensen at or (563) 534-7145. The resources below are available for anyone to and should guide both participants and community facilitators through the entire process.

To help community facilitators get the project off the ground in your areas, we are offering a limited number of $100 stipends for you to use in whatever way you need. Use the money to print off materials, buy radio ads, purchase recording equipment, buy snacks for recording sessions, or however you think will help. A brief request form is included with the resources below.


Resources and Materials

Throughout the Common Ground  program, we anticipate that there will be updates and revisions to these documents. To ensure that you are using the most up-to-date version, check the bottom right corner of the first page of each document for the small letter "V" followed by a number. If that numbers is higher than the number on the copy you have, download the updated version.


Community Facilitators: These documents provide an overview of your role and guidance on bringing Common Ground to your community or are available for you to use or modify to help promote the program.  You should also explore the participant documents below, and may wish to provide copies for your participants, depending on how you structure things in your community. You will need to collect the Participant Information and Release forms from your community's participants.

** If you develop promotional materials, please share them with Lilly to make available for our entire community!


Recording Kits: The project coordinator can work with you to put together equipment and materials kits that include lapel microphones for use with computers or smartphones, participant forms, and other materials. These kits can be used in whatever way works for you, including loaning them out to individuals or organizations. Check with a local library to see if they would help facilitate "checkout!" Contact Lilly for more information.


Participants: These documents will help you prepare for leading or participating in an interview and will provide Common Ground with the information necessary to catalog and share your stories (in whatever way you want, or don't want.) Your community facilitator or the project coordinator is available to help with questions and concerns.


Submitting Files

When you are done and ready to share with Common Ground, please submit the files and documents listed below. We have created an Uploader that allows you to submit large files directly to a Google Drive folder accessible only to the project team. If your files are small, you can also email them directly to Lilly Jensen at



Project Contact Information

Lilly Jensen
Project Coordinator
(563) 534-7145



Logos and Social Media Posts

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