On the Table SWFL is set for Thursday, March 30, 2023.
By hosting a mealtime conversation as part of On the Table SWFL, you’ll be part of an exciting initiative to discuss not only what’s great about our community, but also ways to make it even better — more sustainable, just, safe, strong, and vibrant.
At the Charlotte Community Foundation, Collaboratory, and Collier Community Foundation, we know big ideas can spring from small conversations and that people invest in what they help create. When we come together as a community to listen to and learn from each other, we have the power to impact neighborhoods, communities and lives. That’s what On the Table SWFL is all about.
On the Table SWFL is an opportunity to gather around a table with friends, neighbors, colleagues, and maybe even a few people we are meeting for the first time to talk about the issues, big and small, that impact our quality of life. When we talk about our experiences and listen to others, we connect and learn about what matters to all of us.
On the Table SWFL invites residents to come together to talk, collaborate, and become more civically involved and committed to our community. The issues we face today don’t often offer quick fixes. On the contrary, progress will only result when residents, organizations, businesses and government work together to make contributions that add up to a greater solution than we can achieve on our own. On the Table SWFL is a starting place for meaningful conversation. What happens next is up to you.
This area is full of people who love our community and each other. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to feel welcome “at the table” because people don’t know where the table is. They might have a hard time finding a way to be heard – or believing that their voice matters. On the Table SWFL is designed to better connect people to each other and to make all voices heard. It’s been hugely successful in more than 30 communities across the country – over a half million residents have participated in an On the Table conversation since 2014 – and has inspired a number of community improvements. We know that our future depends on more collaboration, more civic engagement, and more coming together. We hope you will join us!
It’s really pretty simple: You determine a location and invite folks to meet the day of On the Table SWFL for a mealtime conversation to discuss not only what’s great about our community, but also ways to make it even better — more sustainable, just, safe, strong, and vibrant. You can have your breakfast, lunch, or dinner wherever you want and serve whatever you like – from a home-cooked meal to a coffee with a cookie.
To get started, Register to host an On the Table SWFL discussion here.
In conjunction with Florida Gulf Coast University, the foundation partners will conduct a survey of attendees to capture conversation themes and identify region-wide social priorities in an impact report that will be shared broadly. This includes anyone who participated in an On The Table discussion and provided a valid email address.
As a follow-up to On the Table SWFL, the foundations pledge to work together on issues identified through the conversations to create a more sustainable and vibrant Southwest Florida.
Although there is no set length of time for an On the Table SWFL discussion (it’s up to each host to decide), conversations generally last 60-90 minutes — built around a meal, coffee, or snacks. For instance, a breakfast discussion may include 30 minutes in casual conversation, then the host brings everyone together for 30-60 minutes of dialogue, then a wrap-up and survey completion.
The invite list is up to you. If you’re unsure, start with people you know – friends, family, colleagues and neighbors. You may consider reaching out to a larger community by co-hosting your event with a local house of worship or nonprofit. Consider asking your guests to bring a friend, or invite people from your network that don’t already know each other.
Eight to twelve guests per table is ideal. On the Table SWFL is about giving everyone a chance to speak and be heard. If you want to host a larger gathering, consider breaking into smaller groups and allowing time for each to discuss and report out to the larger group.
Hosts are encouraged to be creative. The priority is to set an atmosphere conducive to meaningful conversation – a potluck in your dining room, a picnic in a nearby park, a gathering at a neighborhood restaurant, a backyard barbecue, a bag lunch at the conference room table, or simply chatting over some coffee and cookies are just a few of the many possibilities.
We look forward to hearing about the stories and commitments discussed at your gathering. We encourage all participants to share insights, photos, and videos on social media throughout the day using #onthetableSWFL and #yourvoicematters.
At the conclusion of the On the Table SWFL, we’ll send every participant (hosts and guests) an e-mail survey to learn more about the experiences, thoughts, and ideas that arose from these conversations. Hosts will have a few copies of the survey available in a paper format for those who do not wish to complete the survey online.
All On the Table SWFL participants can opt-in to receive an electronic copy of the summary report detailing the impact and outcomes of this initiative.
If you need some help getting started, try a few of these questions:
- What brought you to the table today?
- What are your hopes and dreams for our community — now and in the long-term?
- What are the positive qualities or characteristics of our community? How can we leverage those attributes to strengthen our community?
- What does our community need? What can we do individually or collectively to address those needs?
- What are some potential solutions to the problem(s) we’ve identified today?