Successful On the Table Initiative Sparks Productive Dialogue across Region
October 29, 2018
On Oct. 24, 2018, thousands of Richland and Lexington County residents, organizations, and local businesses gathered together for the inaugural On the Table day of conversations. The initiative, powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation – the Midlands’ center for philanthropy – brought thousands of people together at different tables across the two counties for a unique opportunity to share their thoughts on how to make our communities stronger and inspire action across a diverse group of community members.
On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation
Equipped with a hosting toolkit provided by the Community Foundation, over 100 table hosts, including area residents, nonprofits, and local business leaders assembled in homes, parks, restaurants and other community spaces to guide discussions. Included within the toolkit were hosting tips and suggested discussion questions that could be used to spark conversation. The hosts and participants were also encouraged to select their own topics, issues, and ideas to discuss. Discussion topics ranged from overcoming racial divisions to supporting area businesses and encouraging engagement in the arts.
“We are inspired and uplifted by the enthusiastic response to our first On the Table day of conversations,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “The discussions were as diverse as the individuals participating yet there was a common theme – how do we create a community where everyone can contribute and everyone can thrive? We look forward to compiling and sharing the results from the participant surveys in early February.”
From Individual Conversations to a Movement
After each conversation, participants were encouraged to complete a brief online survey about their On the Table experiences and the topics they discussed. The survey results will be compiled by national research partners Hart Research Firm and Public Opinion Strategies, and the Community Foundation will release a community report to the public in February 2019. The results also will be shared with community leaders, elected officials, and other decision-makers to help provide a deeper understanding of the conversations and inform how decisions about our communities are made in the months and years ahead. Participants of On the Table can take the survey online at https://onthetablecola.org/take-the-survey.
Rooted in a National Initiative
The goal of On the Table, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of a national initiative, is to gather area residents from all walks of life, ages, and backgrounds and create a momentum that turns productive dialogue into meaningful action.
On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by The Chicago Community Trust in 2014. Since then, the initiative has fostered civic engagement and generated hundreds of actionable ideas from tens of thousands of Chicago-area residents.
The initiative has also been replicated nationally in more than 25 communities across the nation, including 12 cities also supported by Knight Foundation over the past two years, including Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus, Georgia; Lexington, KY; and Miami, FL.
Support for On the Table, Powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation advances Knight Foundation’s work to help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity, and create a culture of civic engagement. Knight Foundation believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive, and participatory.
“On the Table is helping to create a network of engaged residents and problem-solvers in cities across the nation. Through it, we hope to discover new lessons in people-focused city-building, rooted in consensus and common ground,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation director for community foundations.
For more information visit www.onthetablecola.org or call 803.254.5601.