Entries in the Multimedia Diversity Showcase, from which as many as possible will be selected and shared during the Statesboro’s Longest Table community conversation and meal on Oct. 12, are being accepted until noon Sept. 29.
Two minutes is the requested maximum length of each video or other multimedia presentation. Although organizers emphasize sharing rather than competition, they plan to award some prizes.
One Boro, also known as the Statesboro Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, is hosting the Longest Table and holding the showcase. One Boro is one of three city-authorized citizen commissions created last year, the others being the Statesboro Youth Commission and Statesboro Works!
In fact, more than a year ago, before City Council adopted the commissions, One Boro volunteers were already talking about a Longest Table event. Now it is set to happen from 4-7 p.m. on that Saturday, Oct. 12, in an alley beside 58 East Main St. Organizers invite you to attend and bring friends, but don’t expect to sit exclusively among the people you know best.
“People will also be randomly seated,” said One Boro chair April Schueths, Ph.D. “So you’re not going to be sitting with people you normally sit with, for the whole idea is to build connection, break bread with people you wouldn’t normally connect with. The hope is that we could kind of gain the point of view of other people and develop empathy for other people’s perspectives.”
A slogan on an event flier is, “Meet your neighbors and have a great conversation over a free meal at the longest table in Bulloch County.”
How long a table?
Across the country, some communities place their “longest table” down the middle of a street closed for the occasion. But Statesboro’s first such communal feast will be held in the brick-lined downtown alleyway from East Main to East Vine. Designed for use as an event space, the decorative alley extends between buildings occupied by Georgia Southern University’s City Campus and the Averitt’s Roxie Remley Center for Fine Arts.
“We decided to use that space because it is such a beautiful space and it would be easier for parking and that kind of thing,” Schueths said. “So there will be one long table down that alleyway.”
Organizers hope to seat 200 to 250 people at that table.
Along the table, each grouping of five or six people will be assigned a facilitator with a set of questions to spark discussion.
Example questions could be, “Tell me what it’s like to live in Statesboro,” or “What can we do to make our community better?” she said.
Some local restaurants have agreed to donate food for the Longest Table, and other donors have given money to buy more.
“I don’t know if I would call it buffet style, but there will be food vendors and lots of food,” Schueths said.
Organizers plan to set up a big screen in the alley to share Multimedia Diversity Showcase entries, expected to be videos, mainly. PowerPoint and Prezi presentations will also be accepted, Schueths said.
Some entries have been received, but One Boro members are hoping for more, and recently extended the deadline from the original mid-September date to noon Sept. 29.
“It’s really open to any individual or organization or group that feels as though it is doing something to help recognize or promote diversity and inclusion within our community, and that can take on many different forms,” said Stacy Smallwood, Ph.D., one of the co-chairs for the showcase.
One reason for it, he said, is to look at diversity and inclusion from a positive perspective.
“Sometimes when we hear these terms we may be thinking about them in a negative way, that we’re not doing enough or that there has been some issue, but one of the beautiful things about Statesboro is that there are a lot of people who are civic-minded, who are committed to creating a space where everyone can be included and be celebrated and feel as though they are a part of this community,” Smallwood said.
Besides getting ideas or inspiration, Longest Table attendees may want to join ongoing efforts they see in the presentations, he said.
“We’ve gotten a lot of interest from different organizations and nonprofits, and we hope to see some really great videos coming in,” Smallwood said.
The two-minute limit is requested so that as many entries as possible can be shared, he said, and suggested that some could be edited from longer videos before submission. Smartphone videos will also be welcomed.
Mayor Jonathan McCollar and some City Council representatives have agreed to choose their favorite video for one award. Longest Table participants will select a “People’s Choice” honoree, and three more awards are listed at https://tinyurl.com/OneBoroLongestTable. That’s also the page to visit for an online entry form.
For inquiries about the showcase or main event, email OneBoroCommission@Gmail.com.