The two-day event included Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties
Legacy Foundation invited local residents to gather and have a conversation on September 25 or 26 for its third annual On the Table initiative, part of a national movement to promote civic engagement that seeks to unite people around their shared experiences of living and working in Northwest Indiana.
“The concept is simple,” says Maranda Fishback, Legacy Foundation community engagement coordinator. “On the Table is a forum for local residents to get together with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers or clients to break bread and talk about issues and opportunities in the community where we live, work and play. Following their conversations, participants take a short survey, sharing their feedback with local elected officials, nonprofits and other stakeholders to inform public planning and programming.”
Participants were encouraged to focus their conversations around topics identified by past On the Table participants, including:
- Crime, violence, and public safety
- Public transportation
- Recreation and culture
- Small business and entrepreneurial needs
- Workforce and career pathways
- Youth-identified issues (drug use, bullying, gangs, and mental health)
“We hope participants will listen and learn from each other and maybe generate ideas for addressing some of the challenges in our communities,” said Legacy Foundation President Carolyn Saxton. “This year, the feedback we receive from On the Table will provide resident input on a proposal for a regional development project.”
Anyone from Lake, Porter, or LaPorte counties was invited to participate by having a conversation in their home, service or social club, place of worship, or workplace with at least six people. Information and surveys for youth ages 12-17, who wanted to participate in the conversation were available online. Interested hosts, and those wanting to join a conversation could also find information at www.legacyfdn.org/OnTheTable.
Legacy Foundation’s On the Table conversations are part of a national initiative funded by Knight Foundation. On the Table replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by The Chicago Community Trust in 2014. Support for On the Table advances Knight’s work to help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of civic engagement.
“Knight Foundation believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive and participatory. On the Table puts this belief into action,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation director of community foundations. “We are excited to partner with Legacy Foundation to bring this important event to life for a third year. On the Table continues to provide a simple and accessible opportunity for citizens to engage in discussions and action that propel Northwest Indiana forward.”
Legacy Foundation has used feedback from 2017 and 2018 events to inform its grantmaking strategy – giving funding to nonprofit organizations addressing issues identified in the On the Table surveys. Additionally, it granted $20,000 in Community Action Awards to organizations, individuals, and businesses that wanted to implement a small community project following their On the Table conversation. The $1,000 awards will be available to those who participate in On the Table this year.
About Legacy Foundation
Legacy Foundation is a nonprofit community foundation that supports the passions of philanthropic individuals, organizations, and businesses in Lake County, IN. Through the generosity of many donors, Legacy has awarded more than $40 million to charitable causes since its founding in 1992. With a deep knowledge of local issues, we work creatively across the public, private and philanthropic sectors to address challenges throughout Lake County. For more information, visit www.legacyfdn.org.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. They invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Their goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which they believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.