Members of the Midlands community will be dining together Tuesday at events throughout the region in an effort to encourage conversation and social initiatives.
This is the second year that the Central Carolina Community Foundation is hosting On the Table at locations throughout the Midlands, encouraging citizens, business owners, entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders, students and community and religious leaders to engage in civic dialogue.
For example, the Richland Library is hosting a Let's Talk Race conversation at its On the Table program at the library's main location on Assembly Street. The public is invited and the event is free.
"Not only does this initiative support the library's vision of enhancing the quality of life for our entire community, but it enables us to offer safe spaces for local residents to engage in both conversation and collaboration," said Tamara King, library community relations director.
The Richland Library On the Table discussion is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Karen Andrews, founder of the Auntie Karen Foundation, which uses the arts to connect communities, said the On the Table event she hosted last year brought residents of the 29203 ZIP code together for a discussion. Out of that dialogue, her foundation organized a neighborhood block party and farmers market. She said the people who attended On the Table brought up concerns that helped connect her foundation with the community.
"They really want a farmers market. There's not a grocery store within a two-mile radius. And they really wanted an opportunity to get fresh fruits and vegetables," Andrews said. "They really wanted activities for the kids to participate in. They wanted to make sure that there were positive things happening in the community for the kids."
Sowing Seeds Into the Midlands founder and executive director Zakiya Esper said the On the Table event her group hosted last year brought together judges, law enforcement officers, teachers and other key players in the criminal justice system that she normally couldn't get together in one place at the same time. Sowing Seeds helps provide mentoring and resources to kids involved in the juvenile justice system. The group's mission is to break the school-to-prison pipeline.
"It's the only time I can think of where I was able to gather people in such an intentional way to really brainstorm and say 'From where I sit,' because we all sit somewhere different. It's not something that I had been able to...