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‘Here’s your chance’: On the Table participants have chance to turn words into actions

On the Table opens conversations throughout the city

Kelli Parker of the Community Foundation and Holli Browder of Columbus Parks & Rec hit the highlights of On the Table, a daylong Columbus-wide gathering of residents to talk about anything and everything related to quality of life in the city
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Kelli Parker of the Community Foundation and Holli Browder of Columbus Parks & Rec hit the highlights of On the Table, a daylong Columbus-wide gathering of residents to talk about anything and everything related to quality of life in the city

Now that thousands of folks in the Columbus area have participated in at least one On the Table discussion in the past two years, the event’s organizers have created an opportunity for them to take the next step toward improving their community.

The Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley announced Tuesday the application period for the On the Table Action Grants, allowing residents to turn their words into actions.

Any of the participants who filled one of the On the Table seats — approximately 6,500 on Nov. 7, 2017, or the more than 7,000 on Oct. 23, 2018 — at mealtime gatherings throughout the Columbus area may apply for the grants, ranging from $100 to $2,000, to fund a community project.

The foundation is making a total of $20,000 available for this initiative.

“Being heard, feeling free to express yourself and connecting with others is the goal of On the Table,” said foundation chairman Will Burgin, president of the Jackson-Burgin real estate company. “And the truth is, that is laudable in and of itself. However, what we do with that information, how we provoke folks to be interested in other outreach activities, that is just yet another benefit.”

Betsy Covington, the foundation’s president, said 91 percent of the 610 On the Table participants who completed the 2018 survey said they are very or somewhat likely to take specific actions on an issue or a solution that was discussed at their table.

“So here’s your chance,” Covington said.

Applications and survey results are available at OnTheTableChatt.com. The application must include a video, no longer than 90 seconds, that explains the project and how it would improve the community.

“We can’t wait to learn more about your great ideas and your creativity,” Covington said.

Participants can submit an application for more than one project idea, said Kelli Parker, the foundation’s director of grants and community partnerships. The deadline to apply is March 12 at 5 p.m., and grant recipients are expected to be announced in April. Projects must be completed by Sept. 30.

“Whatever idea you had at your table, think about how you can turn those into action,” Parker said.

Through community foundations, Columbus is one of 10 cities in the nation participating in On the Table, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Other highlights of the local 2018 On the Table survey Covington shared:

85 percent said they agree that the community is changing for the better.

77 percent said they are more hopeful than worried about what the future holds for the community.

81 percent said the area where they live has a strong sense of community.

78 percent said they spoke with at least one person they didn’t already know at On the Table.

65 percent said they learned about important issues in their community.

65 percent said the conversation they had at the event helped them better understand how they can take action to help address issues and challenges in their community.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.

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