Today we met during lunchtime for our first On the Table discussion.

“On the Table is an annual forum designed to elevate civic conversation, foster new relationships and create a unifying experience across the region. Thousands of Chicago-area residents will gather in small groups to share a meal and discuss the challenges and opportunities we face. These conversations can inspire new ways we can work together to make our communities stronger, safer and more dynamic.”

Meeting Tomorrow - On the Table 2016

We talked about ways to grow our sense of community through improving public education and getting to know our neighbors.

1. Individuals should have a stronger connection to the communities in which they live and work. We talked a lot about how many of us don’t know our neighbors and often don’t interact with other members of our community. A few ideas that came up were to just say “hello” more often when walking around your neighborhood. We also talked about ways to get more involved in your neighborhood: attending/organizing block parties, getting involved in your chamber of commerce, attending/organizing activities that bring people together (farmer’s markets, festivals, etc.). We all seemed to agree that if we felt a stronger connection to our community and our neighbors, everyone would be more inclined to “do their part.”

2. The topic of improving education across the city came up a lot as well. We talked about the need for the entire community to support schools, not just parents. We wanted to see more young people getting involved in the schools because strong schools can be the foundation of a strong community. Rather than leaving the city to send our kids to better schools, we should be working to improve the schools we have in our communities. This is not something we can rely on the city or the school board to do, so there needs to be more of a collective responsibility from the community as a whole.

What do you think is important to consider as we all strive to improve our communities? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Want to learn more about On the Table or register to be a host? Visit See what others had to say about their experience here.

Co-author – Jessica Krueger