ED Reflection: Strong Together, November 9th and Beyond

By Melissa Spear
Executive Director

Melissa Spear is Executive Director of Common Ground

Last night I lay awake again in the darkness with a pit of anxiety churning in my stomach, worrying about the current state of the world and the people I care about. I am slowly and painfully processing the implications of last Tuesday’s election results, and thinking hard about how to respond.

I am definitely of the opinion that now is not a time for complacency. Many of us have felt very directly threatened by the hate filled rhetoric that has characterized the Trump campaign. Just as disturbing has been the attempt to explain away the rhetoric as a simple ruse deployed in order to win. This story belies the truth exposed by the hostility of many of the “celebrations” that have followed the election, and by the spike in acts of hate since last Tuesday.

On Wednesday, 11.16, CG students leading the change we so desperately need during today's Mix It Up Day at Common Ground ... facilitating and co-facilitating workshops on being bilingual, Islam NO phobia, gender equality, misrepresentation of marginalized communities, creating change, staying woke, and more.

On Wednesday, 11/16, CGHS students led the change we so desperately need Mix It Up Day. Students facilitated and co-facilitated workshops on being bilingual, Islam NO phobia, gender equality, misrepresentation of marginalized communities, creating change, staying woke, and more.

So what are we to do? For the moment I am looking to where we hold power: within our own community. In particular I have thought about the power held by the community of Common Ground, and how we can use that power to counteract the threat posed by this turn of events.

To that end, I would like to make clear what Common Ground stands for, what our most fundamental values are, what we are committed to, what we believe in.

I do this in support of all of the Common Ground students, alumni, staff, and community members who have expressed their fear of what is to come; on behalf of my transgender son, and the LGBTQ community who feels that its basic humanity is at stake; I do it for our immigrant community which faces losing what little protection it has against indiscriminate deportation; I do it for all non-Christians whose loyalty to America is being questioned; I do it for people of color who are experiencing a threatening resurgence of overt racism; I do it for all women who have seen misogyny raise its ugly head and threaten to (again) suppress their power.

Here is Common Ground’s commitment to all of you, and the world at large:
  • Common Ground is committed to equity, and to recognizing and dismantling systems of oppression regardless of who they benefit or who they harm
  • Common Ground is committed to racial justice, to challenging the manifestations of implicit bias, to dismantling systems and institutions that limit the opportunities available to people of color, to standing up to bigotry where ever it is found
  • Common Ground is committed to the fundamental right of the LGBTQ community to marry, to work, and to live their lives with respect and with dignity, and without being subject to discrimination
  • Common Ground is committed to fighting climate change, and protecting the world’s critical natural resources for future generations
  • Common Ground is committed to truth telling, to combating misinformation with facts and evidence and real stories
  • Common Ground is committed to providing young people with the skills and tools they will need to think critically, to find their truth, to get at the root causes of the challenges we face; to have heart, to become powerful leaders, and become agents of sustainable change
  • Common Ground is committed to act as a refuge for people who are under threat – and to using the power and resources we have to support and protect all members of our community
  • Common Ground is committed to act as a catalyst – as a place where community can come together to build bridges, plan, and take action together
  • Common Ground is committed to performing its work with humanity, with love, and with joy

Common Ground is far from perfect. As with any community we are a group of flawed humans working together toward some shared goals and objectives. We cannot exist entirely outside of the norms and laws imposed upon us by those in power, we cannot ignore the society within which we exist. But we can be clear about what we value, what we believe, and we can do everything in our power to live out those values. I hope you will join us, will support us in this effort to realize a positive, humane future for our children.


Members of the New Haven Community gather at Common Ground to reflect on the election results and plan for our future together.

Additional Resources:
Common Ground hosted a community conversation organized by Hanifa Nayo Washington and Greg Grinberg on Friday, Nov 11, to allow our community to unite, be heard, and to be together.

This Sunday, Nov. 20, from 3:30-6:30pm, we will be hosting a continuation of this conversation to inventory the needs of a community and begin to plan for meeting those needs. All are welcome, even if you did not attend the first portion. Details here.

We’d also like to share the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s guide 10 Ways to Fight Hate.



  1. norma pezzini Nov 18, 2016 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    I am relocating from California (Bay Area) to Hamden and will arrive midDecember. Looking forward to being active in Common Ground once I get settled.

    Norma Pezzini

    • Melissa Spear Nov 18, 2016 at 2:00 pm - Reply

      Please come visit when you are settled!

  2. Bill Horne Nov 18, 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    You’re a great example for all of us. Thank you for all the good that you do!

  3. Melissa Spear Nov 18, 2016 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your kind words.

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