Spearheaded by the Vancouver Foundation, the second annual BC-wide On the Table event, Sept. 26, is a chance to build community over conversation.

Putting community On the Table

Vancouver Foundation event urges BC to connect through good food, great conversation this month

What’s on your table Sept. 26?

Lidia Kemeny, from the Vancouver Foundation, hopes there’ll be a little food, a few refreshments and a lot of great conversation!

Spearheaded by the Vancouver Foundation, the second annual BC-wide On the Table event is a chance to build community over conversation.

“For the last six years, we’ve been really exploring how people are feeling disconnected and isolated from each other, and trying to find ways to connect people,” Kemeny says, pointing to a 2017, Vancouver Foundation survey of almost 4,000 people that revealed many Metro Vancouver residents feel disconnected from their community.

In fact, one-third of those between 25 and 34 felt alone more than they would like, another one-third said they have trouble making friends. Further, 40 per cent of high-rise dwellers felt lonely, almost twice the number living in detached homes.

Crucially, the research found the loneliest people also reported being in poorer health.

“It’s not that they don’t want to connect with people, it’s that they don’t know how,” Kemeny says.

Connecting through conversation

Last year, in honour of the Vancouver Foundation’s 75th anniversary and celebrating their work across the province, the inaugural On the Table offered a chance to bring together friends, colleagues or even strangers to enjoy good food and conversation about a particular topic. In all, 361 hosts and more than 4,500 guests gathered in places like living rooms, lunchrooms, local restaurants and community spaces to meet, talk and connect.

This year, organizers hope to expand the program’s reach even farther. To host an On the Table event, simply come up with a food, a drink and a conversation topic. “It can be as simple or as involved as you want. Just inviting a few people out for coffee and doughnuts is all it takes,” Kemeny says, highlighting some of the events registered already this year, like “Soup, Bannock and Real Reconciliation,” “Samosas, Chai Tea and Cultural Networking,” and “Wine, Seasonal Grub and Community Building.”

Here in Victoria, there’s “Dinner and a Conversation: Brain Injury in our Community,” from the Cridge Centre for the Family,” “Cake, Coffee and Community Visioning,” from Oaklands Community Association, and “Veggie lunch, cookies and tackling environmental issues,” from the Environmental Law Centre.

“One of the things we’ve discovered is almost everyone is longing for real connections, but people struggle finding places to connect with each other,” Kemeny says. “We have to take the time to get to know each other and that happens through shared conversations. This can be a low-barrier way to get to know people with similar interests.”

There’s no cost to participate – simply register online and invite as few or as many people you want to join the conversation. Registrations are used to help the Vancouver Foundation tell the story of the initiative and learn what people are talking about – what’s important to them.

Top topics last year included:

  • Inclusion/belonging
  • Social/environmental shifts
  • Community engagements
  • Well-being and vitality

“Everything is going to start with a conversation and our understanding of how we can be involved in our community.”

Learn more at vancouverfoundation.ca and onthetablebc.com.

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An On the Table event can be as simple or as involved as you like – simply come up with a food idea, a drink idea and a conversation topic.

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