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The Longest Table initiative is back

By Essence Blake
On May 3, 2016

The second phase of The Longest Table Initiative will be Sunday, June 26 at 5:30 p.m. Citizens will engage in a community event to share a meal and their experiences with each other.

In over 100 public spaces and homes around the community, conversations will be broken up into smaller dinners of 6-8 citizens.

Community relations coordinator for the Mayor’s office Jamerson Van Pelt said the smaller dinners will help bring the community together on possible solutions to the issues.

“We want to make sure that we continue the important conversations that took place last October about issues and opportunities facing our community. These smaller dinners will allow us to further break down the silos that divide us and help us to see each other on a more human level,” Van Pelt said.

With the help of Leon County Government, The Village Square and Leadership Tallahassee and the City of Tallahassee, Tallahassee received a $57,250 grant from the Knight Foundation to expand The Longest Table Initiative, according to the Knight Foundation.

After the application was submitted to the Mayor’s office in January, the City of Tallahassee was selected out of 4,500 applications.

Beginning last October, The Longest Table Initiative brought out hundreds of people to sit down for a meal, tables stretched across the middle of Park Avenue. Van Pelt knew this was something Tallahassee wanted to continue.

“We saw a huge outpouring of support from the last event. Citizens immediately wanted to get involved and begin planning for the next phase,” Van Pelt said.

Other communities from across the country such as St. Louis, Baltimore and the Treasurer of the State of Indiana, asked Tallahassee how to start their own version of the initiative.

The Knight Foundation acknowledges The Longest Table Initiative as part of its Creative Cities Challenge to help break down barriers which in communities nationwide. They fund projects of all sizes to advance their goal of promoting informed and engaged communities to support a healthy democracy.

With the funds awarded by the Knight Foundation, the City of Tallahassee can continue to move forward, creating diversity and mending economic and demographic segregation.

"We are very excited about the next phase of the Longest Table,” Mayor Gillum said. “This community-driven initiative is helping to create a positive movement in our community that is breaking down silos, and allowing citizens from different walks of life to build meaningful connections."

If you are interested in hosting or attending a Longest Table event, please visit or call (850) 891-8181.

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