Finding Common Ground

On a blustery winter evening, dozens of Ithacans braved sleet and snow to attend “Finding Common Ground,” the Ithaca Coalition for Unity and Cooperation in the Middle East’s (ICUCME) Dec. 6 event at the Just Be Cause Center.

The evening began with a vegetarian pot-luck that included stuffed grape leaves, roasted beets, a tofu casserole, and pizza (popular with the kids), with pastries and fruit for dessert.

Participants then broke into groups of two and three for an in-depth discussion about creating space for others’ points of view (while respecting your own stance), and ways to change the dynamic when faced with disagreement, in order to find common ground.

The lively conversations continued as craft materials were brought out for the fun portion of the evening. Jules Hojnowski demonstrated the art of bobbin lace, while Kay Weed of the Christian Science Center taught an eager crowd how to fold origami “kindness boxes.” The under-ten participants enthusiastically glued beans to paper to create bean mosaic pictures, while a mixed age group created paper flowers out of strips of colored card stock.

At the end of the evening, enthusiastic crafters kept folding and creating while volunteers stacked chairs and folded tables around them. “I think people would have continued crafting sitting on the floor, they were having so much fun,” said event organizer Linda Glaser. But with the snow falling ever more heavily, the last crafter finally ventured reluctantly out into the night, a cheerfully yellow flower in his hand.