The Community Foundation of Central Georgia, with funding from the Knight Foundation, will lead On The Table, an initiative that invites residents to discuss how to improve the community.
On The Table started five years ago in Chicago by the Chicago Community Trust. It has been replicated across the country.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has assisted with the growth of the initiative. The foundation is not only funding Macon’s Wednesday event, but it is sponsoring it in nine other cities.
“It’s a community engagement initiative. That’s the way I look at it. And we’re spearheading this, but it belongs to the community,” said Kathryn Dennis, president of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia.
The initiative is bringing together community leaders from various fields.
“We started by convening a steering committee of people that represented a cross-section of the community,” said Julia Wood, the Community Foundation’s Vice President of Development and Donor Services.
Alex Habersham and Susannah Maddux joined the steering committee.
Habersham, the publisher of the Macon Middle Georgia Black Pages, said he joined because he is interested in seeing the community progress socially, educationally, economically, spiritually and academically.
“Sometimes ideas are floating out there that are not presented that can make a measurable difference in many of those facets of the community, so On The Table provides an excellent opportunity to get some ideas out and hopefully generate some initiative that’s going to make a difference in the community,” he said.
Maddux, the owner and publisher of Macon Magazine, said she thinks the initiative is something Macon needs.
“The change and the good that we want to see happen in this community is up to us, the citizens of this community,” she said.
A large part of the On The Table initiative is geared toward young people.
“We would love for college students to participate in this, too, because (they) are the reason we’re working so hard,” Wood said.
For people interested in hosting a table, the organizers put together a host toolkit that includes notebooks, pens and question prompt cards to help start the conversation.
“Sometimes people don’t feel like they are heard. This is an opportunity for people who don’t traditionally feel like people are listening to them to make sure their voice is heard,” Wood said.
Dennis said breaking bread together is an essential component of On The Table.
“It brings people together in a different way. And then through these conversations, people realize that there are things that, as individuals and in small groups, they can do to move our community forward,” she said.
For more information, visit www.onthetablemacon.com.