On the Table conversation set for October 4-10

Central Carolina Community Foundation 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. Previously a day of conversations, On the Table has been expanded to a full week, October 4-10. Register to be a host at www.OnTheTableCola.org.

As our community works to overcome COVID-19 and address longstanding racial equity issues, we have many strengths to draw upon. On the Table offers 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.

“In today’s environment, the community is critical and we’re delighted to organize the third annual On the Table. The conversations that will take place will help us move forward and make our region stronger,” says JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “When we come together to share and learn from each other, we have the power to impact neighborhoods, communities, and lives.”

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 the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2019, more than 2,160 Richland and Lexington County residents gathered at more than 216 tables to discuss topics ranging from youth entrepreneurship to gentrification and community building.

To allow more flexibility in scheduling and time to organize safe conversations, On the Table will take place over a week-long period (from prior years’ one-day discussions) October 4 – October 10.

“The need to gather safely and listen to each other is critical as our community works to overcome the challenges we’re currently facing,” said Turnquist. “We’re moving forward with On the Table because 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 and our community, 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 wishing to convene more than 10 people are encouraged to plan a virtual conversation.

Hosts determine the place, guests, time, and topics for their On the Table conversations. All Richland or Lexington 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.

This year, the Community Foundation is providing additional resources to help ensure a week of successful discussions, including the following:

• New website: Simplifying the process of selecting a conversation to attend, the new On the Table website now includes a feature that allows people to search for public discussions by location, topic, date, and time. 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 will provide information and guided questions in the areas of education, race relations, civic engagement, and poverty — areas of opportunity that were identified in previous years for the community. 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 10 at www.OnTheTableCola.org/Host/Host-Resources. Additionally, the Community Foundation will host a Facebook Live Q&A session on September 24, at noon. The recording will be available on the Community Foundation’s Facebook page and at www.OnTheTableCola.org/Host/Host-Resources.

The Foundation is again awarding Beyond the Table mini-grants based on community priorities identified in last year’s survey. Nonprofit organizations and individuals with 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 4. Information about the grants can be found at www.OnTheTableCola.org.

For more information or to sign up to host, visit www.OnTheTableCola.org or call 803-254-5601.