The conversations were as varied as the people who were engaging in them, and that’s just what organizers of Franklin Tomorrow’s second On the Table campaign were hoping for as it kicked off Tuesday morning through Breakfast with the Mayors at the Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin.
Tables holding five or six participants each filled up about half the space in the church’s auditorium as discussions centered on everything from smart growth to the homeless population in Williamson County, from transportation woes to affordable housing.
“It was great hearing different perspectives, meeting new people and building new relationships,” said Patrick Baggett, who works at Full Service Insurance and is co-chair of the On the Table event. “Just being able to sit down and civilly discuss time-sensitive issues — that’s what this is all about.”
On the Table was introduced in the summer of 2018 and kicked off its first campaign last October. It’s designed to encourage members of the community to come together to share a meal and have a conversation on what they consider important topics in Franklin and throughout Williamson County.
On the Table conversations are intended to inspire people to take action and seize opportunities in the community. Adding a diversity of voices provides unique discussions around varying issues that matter to the community. After the conversations ended, participants were asked to share their outcomes and provide feedback around topics discussed through a post-event survey.
“We heard as people were leaving Breakfast with the Mayors how meaningful they felt their discussions were, and we are excited to see their survey responses," said Mindy Tate, executive director of Franklin Tomorrow. "The only way we know what is discussed is if people complete the post-event survey, so we would love to remind people to participate in that.”
Lyndsay Sullivan, business development director for the Bone & Joint Institute at Williamson Medical Center, said On the Table is an ideal way for businesses to get involved in their communities.
“We always try to be engaged in the community,” she said after sitting around the table with Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson, table host. “I didn’t have a chance to participate in this last year, and I wanted to see this for myself and contribute in the community.
“It went great. There were people with very different backgrounds. It was great just to hear issues from a wide range of age groups. We were able to talk about the different problems that affect us all, and how we view the different issues of the community.”
Other than Breakfast with the Mayors, additional public conversations include, on Wednesday, Nov. 6, a biscuit breakfast at Brookdale Franklin; coffee and donuts in the City Hall boardroom; an afternoon social hour at JJ’s Wine Bar; and a family dinner at First Presbyterian Church.
On Thursday, Nov. 7, events are planned at Franklin Housing Authority and Williamson County Health Council; a social hour gathering at Maristone of Franklin senior living community; and an open community dinner at Eastern Flank Battlefield Clubhouse.
Events will culminate on Saturday, Nov. 9, with Engage Franklin at Columbia State Community College from 9-11 a.m.
“Engage Franklin is really an opportunity to put these discussions into action as area nonprofits and organizations will be at Columbia State Community College to offer direct service opportunities,” Tate said. “We will also have the opportunity for people to participate in On the Table conversations if they were unable to do so during the week.”