Imagine a dinner table the length of the Third Street Bridge. Envision it packed with Daytonians from every pocket of the city. At this table, UpDayton and other interested parties can help serve a meal and challenge participants to re-think their assumptions about other parts of town and the people who live there. Volunteers will figure out how to bring this huge meal to life, how to inspire impactful dialogue, and how to fill the table with people who believe in a more open, connected Dayton.
“What’s better than having folks come together to break bread with strangers and talk about the future of Dayton?” says Bryan Stewart, The Longest Table Project organizer.
Stewart says he came up with the idea when a colleague reached out to him and showed him a similar event that happened last fall in Tallahassee, Fla. Stewart talked with organizers in Florida to learn how they planned the event.
Stewart pitched the idea, based on a similar event that took place in Tallahassee last fall, at the UpDayton Summit, an annual conference in which attendees vote on which community-based projects will receive $1,000 and assistance from UpDayton. Stewart was one of three winners at this year’s conference in April. Of course, $1000 doesn’t cover the cost of this project, so donations are welcome and the team will also be guest bartending tonight at Fifth Street Brewpub starting at 6pm.
A team of volunteers has been working for months to work on the logistics, the food donations, and getting a diverse group of Miami Valley residents to the table.
Volunteer Julio Mateo decided to join the Longest Table after attending the UpDayton summit. Mateo is on the dialogue committee, which develops ways for people to start conversation. For example, the table will be lined with placemats with questions on them. One question may be, “What’s your favorite part about your neighborhood? How can you make it even better?”
“We’re trying to create questions that can help people initiate conversations or that can lead people from just meeting a brand new person to working together on ways Dayton can be more forward,” says Mateo.
Of course to pull this off, hundreds of volunteers will be needed, for set up, helping with parking, table hosts, and of course clean up. Sign up to volunteer here.
If you’d like a seat at the table on Sat, Oct 15th you can register online. The meal is free, with most of it being provided by the House of Bread. It will be a very simple meal, because the conversation in the centerpiece of this event. Attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite dessert to share. Due to the nature of this event those with food allergies and other dietary restrictions will need to make their own decisions about whether to attend or not, as no special meal concessions will be available.