FAQ

Common Knowledge is a mission-driven consulting firm based in Northern California with clients throughout California as well as other states. We partner with public and private partners to co-create social change programs that go beyond the usual models and usual suspects. We provide research, strategic planning, process design, communications, training and evaluation support to organizations and collaboratives undertaking various kinds of civic, community and employee engagement initiatives.

The name Common Knowledge embodies two underlying principles:  it stands for things that should be common knowledge but aren’t – such as how does my local government work, what do my taxes pay for, how do we provide health care, etc. – as well as the essential knowledge that can only come from dialogue between diverse participants that generates common understanding and new paths forward.

Common Knowledge partners with organizations that want to tap the capacity of their communities, internally and externally, to create alignment and new resources around shared goals. We are committed to demonstrating and incorporating the capacity of diverse community members as an essential ingredient in improving social outcomes.

Many public participation and civic engagement projects connect with just a small slice of the community’s capacity. Common Knowledge uses an expansive lens to define “community assets” and thinks deeply about participants’ starting beliefs, learning styles and cultural traditions in designing programs and communications. As a result, Common Knowledge’s projects produce communications that resonate more deeply with the audience, facilitation processes that accelerate group movement and platforms that promote lasting engagement. We also take great satisfaction in helping to bridge the cultural divides commonly found in many communities.

The Common Knowledge team has had the good fortune to work in-depth with a wide variety of community engagement and organizational development processes that support collaborative planning, constructive dialogue, enlightened problem solving and community capacity building. This allows us to look across the field of in-person and online possibilities to select and shape the best combination for our clients and projects.

Our work has been informed by long years of experience with the type of choice work used at National Issues Forums, Viewpoint Learning and Public Agenda.  And we have been trained in and use Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space, World Café, Sustained Dialogue and the excellent processes of the Institute of Cultural Affairs Technology of Participation, among others. We have also worked on multiple projects with AmericaSpeaks, utilizing large high-tech town hall formats, as well as with civic tech leaders developing new ways to have authentic digital engagement.

Common Knowledge often participates in projects around the country and has presented internationally. Much of our work takes place in California, taking advantage of the state’s ethnic and socio-economic diversity as well as its long history of being on the cutting edge of social issues. We have been pleased to participate in the wave of social innovation taking place in California in collaboration with well known as well as unsung community heroes.