Welcome to our series recognizing the wonderful local nonprofit organizations that play a major role in contributing to the Washington community. Up next is Conversations on the Green, the parent organization of Common Ground with Jane Whitney.
Conversations on the Green began over a decade ago with the goal of bringing together a range of voices to discuss critical issues in modern society. What began with the first town hall in Washington, Connecticut has grown to be a nationally syndicated public affairs program featuring national leaders and experts led by Jane Whitney.
A Community Conversation
The first Conversations on the Green event was held at Parish Hall in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington with the goal to bring critical conversations to Litchfield Hills. Organized by Jane Whitney, Lindsey Gruson, Laura Neminski, and dedicated local volunteers, the series was met with overwhelming response and raised funds for local charities. From its inception, Conversations on the Green believed that robust, diverse, and factual conversations are the key to making democracy work.
The series proved to be a great success, bringing in national leaders and experts including analysts, historians, legislators, politicians, scientists, theologians, writers, and others. The live events maintained the town hall model to encourage audience participation and interaction with the panelists.
“What makes these conversations so extraordinary is the pairing of national voices from all backgrounds and perspectives who contribute in a way that’s meaningful. Our goal is to build a show that helps people with political literacy. We’re non-partisan and we bring together experts that create a conversation that is as broad and informative as possible for all viewers, offering local residents an opportunity to be a part of the dialogue.” – Sunday Fisher, Director of Operations
When the pandemic hit, it was no longer an option to host in-person town halls, yet the need for having critical conversations was more important than ever. Thanks to a dedicated team of leaders and volunteers, Conversations on the Green continued as a virtual series with Jane Whitney moderating the panelists out of her home in Washington. This ultimately opened the door for the series to be nationally broadcasted to to PBS stations by American Public Television.
A Local Series With National Force
What began as a small town series has grown into a national force. Common Ground with Jane Whitney is the only television national public affairs show produced in a rural area, the only television national public affairs show to be financed by its home community and produced largely by volunteers outside the network universe, and the only television national public affairs show with a stated mission to fortify our democracy.
Today, Conversation on the Green’s Common Ground with Jane Whitney series continues to bring national experts to the local residents in Litchfield County, but the live show has expanded to a hybrid model that is also broadcasted on PBS stations across the nation. The series features a set of carefully curated topics and panelists to ensure both expertise and diversity in perspectives.
“We named it ‘Common Ground’ because it is something we don’t have and it is something everybody wants. What the show is designed to do in a time of strife and tumultuous behavior is to bring together a diversity of voices to talk about issues that affect all of us, every single person is affected by what we talk about. You don’t have to be into politics or even know what is going on to understand our show, you just have to be living this life we are all trying to muddle through right now.” – Jane Whitney
This year, Common Ground with Jane Whitney will broadcast 13 shows and is expected to reach over 60 percent of the televisions in the country. Over 80% of the Conversations on the Green team is made up of local volunteers who are very passionate about the community and proud to bring a locally produced show to households nationwide.
In recent years, Conversations on the Green has donated a total of $70,000 a year to local and national charities, including Greenwoods Counseling Referrals, Susan B. Anthony, New Milford Hospital, and The American Nurses Association CoronaVirus Fund.
“A key element to progress is listening to all sides of an argument and then finding that ‘Common Ground’ so that we can work together. It is the foundation on which our democracy was founded on and we believe that now more than ever, we need people to engage in this kind of discourse for the betterment of our community.” – Sunday Fisher
Upcoming 2022 Season Schedule:
Here’s what you can expect from this year’s season of Common Ground with Jane Whitney!
To get the latest news about upcoming panelists and registrations, visit www.cgjw.org.
Is Social Media The End Of Civilization?
Sunday, August 21st
Social media has forever changed how we communicate. But for better or for worse?
Women’s Rights: Power Remix
Sunday, September 18th
The continued struggle for women’s rights takes center stage.
Democracy In Color
Sunday, October 2nd
America’s racial politics and the identities that drive our discourse.
Can This Planet (Still) Be Saved?
Sunday, October 30th
Activists and leaders discuss Washington’s environmental lockjam and spurring climate action.
Sunday, December 18th
Amid national cynicism and anxiety, a conversation about hope, renewal, and resilience.
“Jane Whitney is a master interviewer who takes complicated issues and distills them down to messages and impactful points that benefit the audience. “Common Ground…” is a remarkable show where homework is job one. It was a real honor to work with you.” – Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota
“To hear trusted news sources like Joy Reid speaking candidly about their personal experiences as black people on “Democracy in Color” was inordinately powerful. Listening to what Ms. Reid goes through every day as a black woman brought me to tears.” – Heidi Steinberg, Viewer
“Thanks for including me in such an all-star lineup on “Women’s Rights Rollback” – your timing could not have been better, and it is always energizing to be with other women doing so much to make the world a better place. Thank you for what you do – I hope our paths cross again!” – Cecile Richards, Supermajority Co-Founder
Join the Conversation
To learn more and get the latest news from Common Ground with Jane Whitney, visit www.cgjw.org and sign up for their newsletter. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please email [email protected].