Our View: On The Table will open conversation about improving community

Published 11:17 am Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The next installment of events focused on inclusion in the community will be about opening the dialogue about how to foster belonging in Winchester-Clark County.

The Clark County Community Foundation is bringing its On The Table talks back this year with the theme of “Fostering Belonging in our City.”

The Blue Grass Community Foundation launched “On the Table” events in Lexington in 2017 and expanded it to Clark County last year. Last year’s conversations centered on school violence; it also led to a CCCF granting funds to Clark County Public Schools for safety initiatives.

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On The Table is a national initiative supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

On The Table 2019 will be at 5:30 p.m. March 27 at the Winchester Opera House.

This year’s theme coincides with several other 2019 events focused on inclusion such as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion discussion series, of which the first session occurred last week, and the “I Was Here” project slated to launch this weekend.

Conversations about inclusion and creating a sense of welcome in our community are a perfect partnership with this year’s theme of bridging divides in our community.

While many of the themes focus specifically on issues with race, there are many other groups in our community who may feel they are unheard and therefore, do not belong.

Whether it be gender, sexual orientation, religion or some other demographic of underserved or under-represented people, fostering belonging for all will help strengthen Winchester-Clark County and set a foundation for a more diverse and more comprehensive approach to tackling our community’s issues.

More importantly, On The Table includes the community’s youth in the discussion.

Every student at Baker Intermediate School and Campbell Junior High School will participate in a table discussion. By including students in the discussion, they can give a more clear picture of what they envision for the future of their hometown.

Clark Countians and local groups can also host tables as well. If attending the CCCF public event, RSVP to halee@bgcf.org, or if interested in hosting a table, register at www.bgcf.org/onthetable.

Following the talk, attendees will fill out a survey which could serve as data for potential grant funds in the community.

These discussions will allow members of the community — no matter their age, race, gender, religion, socio-economic status, etc. — to have their voice heard. The more people who show up, the more diverse the results will be. These results are used for grant-making and other opportunities for potential solutions and positive change.

Halee Cunningham, deputy counsel and gift-planning officer for BGCF, summed up our thoughts about why it is so important for the whole community to be involved in these discussions.

“A lot of times people complain about Winchester, say there’s nothing to do, nowhere to go,” she said. “We want to provide an outlet for those voices to have true, open, honest conversations that will result in significant positive change.”

It is easy to complain about the problems in our community, to lament the good old boy system or to say there are certain groups that are simply not taken seriously.

While we empathize with these feelings, we also truly believe these On The Table discussions are the perfect platform to dispel these notions and make sure different perspectives are heard.

In the end, we think our community will be better for it, too.