Statesboro’s Longest Table will be open to all this Saturday, Oct. 12, as the table is set for a community conversation and meal, 4–7 p.m. in the brick-lined alleyway between the Georgia Southern City Campus buildings at 58 East Main St.
One Boro, also known as the Statesboro Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, has been planning the Longest Table event for months.
“We’re inviting everybody out,” said Mayor Jonathan McCollar, who has been helping get the word out on social media. “If we get a hundred or so people to show up, that will be good. But it’s that opportunity for us to come together, talk and get to know each other within the community. So I think that’s going to be real fun.”
He is active with all three of the citizen panels conceived by volunteers during his 2017 mayoral campaign and adopted last year by City Council as official advisory commissions.
Longest Table events have been held in various communities across the country. As One Boro chair April Schueths explained in a previous interview, groups of friends, families and co-workers are welcome, but individuals shouldn’t expect to sit exclusively among the people they know best.
“People will also be randomly seated,” she said. “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.”
Along the table, facilitators will be stationed 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?” Schueths said.
Some local restaurants have agreed to donate food for the Longest Table, and other donors have given money to buy more.
“There's going to be a lot of great discussions and really great food from our generous donors, including El Sombrero, Olive Garden, Caribbean Feast, SmoQue Pit, Clubhouse, and Cake, to name a few,” Schueths said in an email Wednesday.
Longest Table participants will view and select their favorites from entries in the Multimedia Diversity Showcase. One Boro received eight entries, such as short videos, in response to the call that was open until noon Oct. 2.
“We're really excited to have the community see the impressive examples of how the people of Statesboro are promoting and affirming diversity, inclusion, and equity,” Schueths wrote. “Community members will have the chance to vote for their favorite video in the People's Choice category. Join us on Saturday for a great time.”
The other two “mayoral” commissions — the Statesboro Youth Commission and Statesboro Works! — have been planning events of their own.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.