Global Connections @ The Commons

From October 19 - 21, 2018, over 1,000 students from across the world visited Chicago for a three day conference through Clinton Global Initiative University. On the last day of the conference, 32 of those students spent an afternoon at The Commons for the conference’s Day of Action. Read on to learn more about the global audience and interactions at The Commons.


Clinton Global Initiative University
The Clinton Foundation was founded by President Clinton in 2001 with the thought that “everyone deserves a chance to succeed, everyone has a responsibility to act, and we all do better when we work together”. One of the Clinton Foundation’s initiatives, formed in 2007, is the Clinton Global Initiative University.  This initiative gathers emerging leaders from across the globe to develop and implement solutions to the world’s challenges.

Day of Action @ The Commons
The afternoon began with introductions - 32 students from across the nation (California, Colorado, Maryland, Illinois, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Virginia, New York, Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts) and beyond (Haiti, Switzerland, Brazil, Germany, Colombia), met SWF’s core team and were exposed to the practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development - a holistic and community-driven solution to one of the world’s most critical challenges - disinvestment and marginalization. SWF’s Executive Director, Emmanuel Pratt, also emphasized the way SWF is utilizing Urban Acupuncture - a curated series of artistic and architectural installations that begin to heal stressed and scarred sites as part of a Regenerative Neighborhood Development strategy. Urban Acupuncture is scalable and translatable to any neighborhood experiencing shared challenges.

After introductions, CGI Volunteers broke into groups to help prepare The Commons for the coming winter months. They cleared out part of the farm, laid down wood chips, and harvested plants. Others helped the SWF team [de]construct and [re]construct reclaimed lumber. Throughout the day, the group witnessed community-driven solutions and began to generate ideas to bring back to their cities and countries.

The energy that this place holds resonated so much with me that I can feel it silencing my thoughts.

During the last hour of the day, students gathered in the Thought Barn to share a meal prepared by Mama Betty, SWF’s Resident Chef, and thoughts about their experience. Students spoke about the energy at The Commons and its impact on their perspective and lives. At The Commons, they felt connected to each other and to the earth, and they found healing from within. The energy at The Commons silenced their thoughts, resulting in new, healthier relationships with those around them. The Thought Barn, true to its purpose, provided a safe space for global connections and conversation.

Courtney Hug