It’s not enough for people seeking public office to speak only in broad generalizations about what they plan to do once elected. I can say 10,000 times in the next year that I will increase transparency in City Hall, but if I don’t have clear plans for you to consider then I’m selling you short. Part of providing TRANSPARENCY is making information easier for you to obtain, and that’s certainly part of my plan. The second part, however, involves making it easier for you to get information to me.
This desire for reciprocal lines of communication is the motivation behind my Community Table concept.
Whether you have offered a meal to friends in times of mourning, celebrated milestones with banquets, or participated in dinner interviews, coming together to “break bread” is a common ritual in our communities. Teenager Kevin Peña understands the importance of meal sharing. When he established his “Everybody Eats Foundation” Peña did so because he believes that “food brings people together and it brings happiness to the table” (Everybody Eats Mission).
I agree. There’s something warm and inviting, even comforting, about sharing a meal with someone.
As luck would have it, science backs me up!
A recent study out of the University of Chicago found that sharing meals encourages cooperation and helps resolve conflicts more quickly because it generates trust (The Star 2016). Food sharing also has been shown to generate feelings of empathy that can help improve social bonding (PsychToday 2014). Research from the University of Oxford demonstrates that “communal eating increases social bonding and feelings of wellbeing” (Oxford 2017).
The Community Table concept is a part of my mission to foster community cohesion in Charlestown. At least once per quarter I will host town-hall style meetings that give you opportunities to bring your ideas, celebrations, and concerns to public attention. While avenues can and should be opened for public comment in regular Common Council meetings, the Community Table goes farther, and it does so in a more welcoming and warm environment.
Each person attending will be asked to bring something to share to supplement a main dish provided by me. Maybe you’ll bring a couple of 2-liter drinks, your grandma’s best chocolate pie (please…), or the broccoli salad recipe you “borrowed” from the deacon’s wife at church. What we get is a resource sharing opportunity. While we share our food, we also share our vision for Charlestown.
I’ll continue to share the plans that support my platform in the following months here on my blog, so please stay tuned! You’re also welcome to come visit me at the campaign office located at 904 Main Street if you have specific questions. In the meantime, since we’re in the midst of the food sharing season, please invite someone new over for dinner one night, grab a shared lunch at one of our local restaurants, or check out the opportunities around town to help provide holiday meals for folks who could use a little help.
The election is months away, but we can get a leg up on building our community cohesion right now. After all, regardless of our differences, Everybody Eats!