On the Table Community Conversation set for October 3-9

Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Midlands’ center for philanthropy, invites Richland and Lexington County residents to join a community-focused, conversation-based initiative by hosting a virtual or socially distanced gathering during On the Table October 3-9. Register to be a host at www.OnTheTableCola.org.

In its fourth year, On the Table provides an opportunity for residents, businesses, and organizations to gather for meaningful conversations, build personal connections and explore how people can work together to create a more generous, vibrant, and engaged community.

“During the past 18 months, relationships we had built over time helped us cope and thrive during uncertainty,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “The Foundation’s fourth annual On the Table provides an opportunity for community members to build and strengthen their relationships by listening to others. When we leverage these connections, we have the power to inspire action and strengthen our region.”

On the Table will continue to bring diverse voices together across the region to discuss our future and inspire actionable ideas to strengthen our communities. On the Table is funded by First Citizens Bank and other members of the Foundation’s In Good Company initiative. In 2020, more than 750 individuals participated in conversations discussing topics ranging from youth entrepreneurship to gentrification and community building.

A Full Week of Safe and Engaging Conversations
To allow more flexibility in scheduling and time to organize safe conversations, On the Table will take place over a week-long period Sunday, October 3 – Saturday, October 9.

“The ability to gather safely and listen to each other is critical as we work together to build a better community,” says Turnquist. “We believe meaningful conversations and strong personal connections can help us create livable, equitable and just communities for everyone.”

To ensure a safe environment for all participants, conversations will take place virtually or in-person, following social distancing guidelines. Virtual conversations can take place via Skype, Zoom, Google Meet or any preferred online platform. Socially distanced, in-person conversations can take place at a park, large building, or any space where attendees can remain six feet apart.

Hosts determine the place, guests, time and topics for their On the Table conversations. All Richland, Lexington or Sumter County residents, nonprofits, places of worship, businesses and other organizations can participate. Flexibility in scheduling and new varied conversation formats increase accessibility for members of the community.

Following On the Table, participants will be asked to complete a short survey about their experiences and topics discussed during their conversation. The Foundation will release a survey report to the general public and community leaders highlighting key findings to help guide decisions about the region’s future.

Resources to Guide Hosts and Attendees
Hosting and attending an On the Table conversation has never been easier. The Community Foundation is once again providing resources to help ensure a week of successful discussions, including the following:

• Website: The On the Table website includes a feature that allows people to search for public discussions by location, topic, date and time, making it easy for community members to find conversations to attend. Discover public, virtual conversations at www.OnTheTableCola.org/Attend.
• COVID-19 safety resources: To ensure the safety of all hosts and participants, toolkits, training and resources based on CDC guidelines will be provided for both virtual and socially distanced, in-person gatherings.
• Conversation guides: The Foundation provides information and guided questions in the areas of education, race relations, civic engagement, poverty, food insecurity and social justice — areas of opportunity that were identified in previous years. Hosts can focus on one of these conversation topics or choose a topic of their own.
• Virtual Lead the Table training: The Foundation will provide virtual training resources for hosts to learn how to easily guide the conversation. A recording of the training and other resources will be available online beginning September 1 at www.OnTheTableCola.org/Host/Host-Resources.

Beyond the Table Grants to Inspire Action
The Foundation is again awarding Beyond the Table grants based on community priorities identified in last year’s survey. Nonprofit organizations and individuals with a fiscal sponsorship can apply for grants up to $2,000 for a project promoting volunteering, civic engagement, or social change. Applications will open on October 3. Information about the grants can be found at www.OnTheTableCola.org.

For more information or to sign up to host, call 803-254-5601.