Community Foundation of Central Georgia Invites Area Residents to Put the Future of Our Community On the Table

Staff Report From Middle Georgia CEO

Friday, May 18th, 2018

On Wednesday, October 17, 2018, citizens of Macon-Bibb County will participate in On the Table, a unique opportunity, led by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, that encourages the public to engage in meaningful, mealtime conversations about how to make our community safer, stronger, and more dynamic. Individuals and organizations are invited to host one or more tables of 8-12 guests to gather, share a meal, discuss issues and opportunities of interest, and make connections to support future collaborative action.
Introduced in Chicago in 2014 by The Chicago Community Trust, On the Table has been replicated in more than 100 communities across the U.S. as a way to elevate civic conversation, foster new relationships and inspire collaborative action. Macon is one of 10 cities selected to replicate On the Table initiative this year, as part of a national initiative funded by Knight Foundation. Additional support for the local project is being provided by Community Foundation donors.
“In our 25th anniversary year, On the Table aligns with the Community Foundation’s vision to create a Central Georgia where philanthropy thrives, communities are strong and citizens work towards common goals.” said Kathryn Dennis, President of the Community Foundation. “On the Table encourages collaboration and action by residents of Macon-Bibb County. People will come together to talk about what makes our community great and what will make it even better. Some will gather with friends they already know and others will find tables where they can meet new people. The common thread will be local residents connecting over food to discuss and develop ways we can continue to move our community in a positive direction together.”

“In cities around the nation, On the Table has worked to bring communities, across backgrounds and beliefs, together to discuss the challenges and opportunities in their neighborhoods. The initiative has helped influence local decision-making, create solutions and connect people. We look forward to seeing its impact unfold in Macon,” said Lynn Murphey, Knight Foundation program director for Macon.
Support for On the Table is one part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to help cities attract and nurture talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of civic engagement. Knight Foundation believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive and participatory.
A Steering Committee has been formed to help implement On the Table. This Committee is made of up individuals who represent a cross-section of the entire community. Committee members include, Alex Habersham, Antonio Williams, Audrey Connely, Cyndey Busbee, Jana Byrd, Nancy Cleveland, Debbie Blankenship, Dominique Johnson, Jennifer Lautzenheiser, Lauren Mauldin, Mike Austin, David Pilgrem, Scott Mitchell, Stephanie Hartley, Susannah Maddux, Tonja Khabir, Valerie Bradley, Warren Selby, and Wayne Anthony.
Everyone who lives, works or plays in Macon-Bibb County can participate as a host or a guest. Several organizations have already stepped up to the plate as Mega Hosts, committing to hosting at least 20 tables of 8-12 guests. Mega Hosts include Macon-Bibb County, Bibb County School District, Navicent Health, Macon Housing Authority, AARP, Neighborhood Associations of East Macon, and Middle Georgia Regional Library.
The Community Foundation hopes that each person who participates in an On the Table conversation will come away with at least two items on which they can take action, either individually or collectively with others from their table. The conversations will continue through social media using the #OnTheTableMacon hashtag.
At the end of each On the Table conversation, guests will be invited to participate in a brief survey about their experience with the initiative, their outlook on the community, and their willingness to take action. The Community Foundation will publicly share the survey results to continue the momentum of moving Macon-Bibb County forward.
For more information about hosting or attending an On the Table conversation, please visit or call 478-750-9338.