This is the spirit behind the On the Table initiative. On the Table Philly brought together over 2,000 people across the region at 300 tables in May of 2017. Residents met and broke bread in small groups to discuss how to make their communities better places to live, work and play. It was the first time the national initiative was piloted in Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Foundation and the Knight Foundation were proud to serve as the event’s sponsors and organizers.
One goal for the day was to expand residents’ individual networks by connecting them with other leaders in their communities. Roughly 85% said the other people at their conversation were either mostly people they did not yet know, or an equal mix of people they did and didn’t know. On the Table Philly coordinator Phoebe Coles described a session she attended at Reading Terminal Market in Center City Philadelphia to the Philadelphia Tribune in terms of the importance of generating community discourse, and the powerful solutions that can result from it.
“There is a need for cultures to come talk more and understand each other more,” she said. “It is very difficult for us to understand what the similarities are because we are not really having those conversations.”
The voices of our community members are too often underappreciated or unheard. Through On the Table Philly, the power of conversation can build a bridge to new understanding. When people come together with the shared motivation of enacting positive change, good things happen.
“There is a need for cultures to come talk more and understand each other more.”