Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Synchronicity and Opportunity: The Longest Table Returns

I had an unexpected moment of synchronicity on Saturday morning when I finished writing my blog post and opened up the weekly HiLights newsletter from the Howard County Library. Right there in front of me was an interview with United Way’s Laura Johnson, who I had just finished writing about.

Interview & Invitation: Join us at the Longest Table

Ms. Johnson will be one of the hosts at this Saturday evening’s event, which will be held at Howard Community College, beginning at 5 pm.

Johnson describes The Longest Table:

I love the experience! We are all so busy, and we don’t always stop to see people and connect – beyond “hey, how are you.” This event allows people to stop for a moment and connect for a moment in time – to SEE each other. 

On how The Longest Table connects with issues of racial equity:

We all come from different places and lived experiences, so this provides a respectful and safe access point to build common ground. It also pushes us to acknowledge the internal work we need to do to heal, to speak up, to do something that builds a community where we all have a “seat at the table.” The incidences of hate in Howard County may not always make the evening news but they’re lurking here in this community. We also know there are so many inequities and disparate outcomes across education, housing, health etc.

The first Longest Table event in Howard County was held in 2017, with a goal of building community. You can find other communities hosting Longest Table events across the US., and often it’s libraries who are hosting them.  The Howard County Library’s ongoing commitment to the event may have been sparked by feedback from that very first evening. This paragraph from a Baltimore Sun article caught my eye:

The library's [Christie] Lassen said that they received good feedback from the event and they hope to make it annual. She said one guest wrote an email thanking the organizers, saying: "Events like these … give me faith that our community isn't as fractured as I sometimes perceive it to be."

You can learn more about that first event here:

The Longest Table sparks dialogue at dinner party of hundreds, Libby Solomon, Baltimore Sun

I haven’t attended any of The Longest Table events but this year I’m considering it. The goal is to hold it outside, weather permitting, and that’s a big plus for me. Due to the health considerations over the last several years, I have rarely been anywhere where I could meet and talk to people I hadn't known already. As a generally shy person this hasn’t been terribly painful for me but it does narrow my scope. It’s an opportunity to make connections and experience community in a new way. Also, it occurs to me that an event like this is more successful if it can draw people who have never been before.

I admit I’m curious about an event which prompted that guest to write: 

Events like these … give me faith that our community isn't as fractured as I sometimes perceive it to be."

That’s as important in 2022 as it was in 2017, if not more so.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for high school and college students. Social hour begins at 5 pm. Dinner will be served family-style at 6 pm. 

They’ve even announced Saturday night’s menu: Mixed Green Salad, Lemongrass Chicken (with a Lemongrass Tofu option), Pasta Primavera, Bread Basket, and Assorted Dessert Bars.

Click here for tickets: The Longest Table

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