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. 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.


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.


Project Contact Information

Lilly Jensen
Project Coordinator
(563) 534-7145