on the table

From left to right: Dianne Lucette (Baldwin Family Connection Board), Stephen Houser (Twin Lakes Library System), Susan Balfour (First Presbyterian Church), Brian Renko (Allied Arts), Harold Mock (Georgia College), Leslie Peterson (Allied Arts) Kendyl Lewis (Georgia College), and Janet Cavin (Baldwin Family Connection).

A one of a kind community-wide event is in its planning stages that will bring people of diverse backgrounds together to share a meal and explore topics of local importance. 

On the Table Milledgeville is slated for Oct. 30; the organizers are seeking to harness the power of collaboration to support a stronger and safer community for all to live in and thrive. 

Across the country, On the Table events have proven that residents, no matter their background, can come together to work for the better good of their immediate communities. Although the organizers understand there are no quick fixes to the issues regions face, they do promote that the contributions of united individuals are beneficial to achieving a greater solution. 

“On the Table, conversations are just the launchpad for ongoing discussions and action around pressing community issues. We’ve already seen the powerful impact of this initiative, with residents across neighborhoods still energized from last year’s inaugural event in Macon,” said Nancy Cleveland, communications and development associate for Community Foundation of Central Georgia. “We’re eager to build on this momentum in Milledgeville, bringing people together, across backgrounds and beliefs, to break bread, build bridges, and brainstorm ideas to strengthen our community.”

The event is spearheaded by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia and Twin Lakes Library System with funding support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Community partners showing support for the gathering include Communities in Schools-Milledgeville/Baldwin County, Georgia Family Connection, Fowler Flemister Concrete, The Salvation Army, NAACP of Baldwin County, Milledgeville-Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, Baldwin County government, City of Milledgeville and Georgia College. 

Recently, two informational sessions were held at the Hancock Branch Annex of the Twin Lakes Library. Cleveland explained to attendees the details of the event, how the foundation and partners support the day of conversation, and the ways hosts can contribute to the broader mission of On the Table Milledgeville. 

The day-long event is made up of hosts including but not limited to churches, nonprofits, businesses, and individuals that send invitations to whomever they want to come to their table to discuss local issues — the hosts pick their table time, location and type of food to be served. Cleveland said it could be a pot-luck meal brought by the attendees, a catered affair, or something as simple as a continental breakfast, coffee break, or afternoon snacks.  

Hosts and super hosts (those that agree to host 10 or more tables) are provided online training webinars and toolkits to learn the event’s best practices and guidelines. A super host is also entitled to a position on the event’s steering committee. 

So far this year, the steering committee consists of Sandy Baxter (Communities in Schools), Janet Cavin (Baldwin Family Connection), McKenzie Davenport (Fowler Flemister Concrete), Cynthia Edwards (The Salvation Army and NAACP of Baldwin), Tommy French (Baldwin County Board of Commissioners), Stephen Houser (Twin Lakes Library System), Dianne Lucette (Baldwin Family Connection Board), Angie Martin (Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce).

"On the Table Milledgeville is a great program that can help our community grow stronger. By having this day of conversation and providing grants that can take that conversation to action, we can identify and work together to solve the issues that our community cares about,” said Stephen Houser, executive director of the Twin Lakes Library System. “I especially appreciate the financial, technical, and logistical support of the Knight Foundation and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia that will make this great day possible. Twin Lakes is happy to help bring this innovative event to Milledgeville, working to fulfill our mission to improve and enhance the educational, cultural and recreational life of our community." 

Following the event, the foundation will survey participants to find out what issues matter most to them and the ideas for solutions that emerged from the conversations. Cleveland noted that she hopes to be able to share participant stories to help inspire others to make a difference. She said the ambitious goal is to create a movement that inspires members of the community to contribute more of their time, talent and ideas. 

For more information about On the Table Milledgeville visit www.onthetablemilledgeville.com

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