It all started last June in Montecito. A series of free, open “Common Table” events with one simple goal in mind: to get people from different corners of the community around a long table of food so they could meet, talk, and remind one another that we’re all in this difficult dance of life together. The State Street event in September was a big success, as was the one in Isla Vista last Saturday. On May 23, there will be another Common Table, this time smack in the middle of Carpinteria on Linden Avenue. “No speeches, no awards, no politics,” organizers with the Lois & Walter Capps Project like to say, “just food, connection, and community.”
Attendees are asked to bring their own food, nonalcoholic drinks, and utensils. Cook your own dishes or, better yet, support nearby restaurants by ordering a few items to go. Linden Avenue’s weekly Farmers’ Market will take place that afternoon and give way to Common Table at 5 p.m. There’ll be live music, too. “There is no hidden agenda, no specific issue to debate or goal to achieve,” said Project director Todd Capps. “The purpose is a return to human connection, neighbor to neighbor, face to face.”
Though Capps, who’s perpetually positive, doesn’t like to talk about it, Santa Barbara’s red tape and high fees almost killed the State Street Common Table. That hasn’t been the case in Carpinteria. “It has been a joy to work with the people of Carpinteria in preparing this event, starting with Carpinteria City Council, who voted unanimously in favor of the event and even waived our registration fee as an added gesture of support,” Capps said.
Scientific evidence shows that too few in-person (as opposed to virtual) connections erodes empathy in a community, Capps went on. That divide ripples into the world. “Sharing a meal together tends to rekindle a sense of fellowship,” he said. “And this too seems to have the potential for a powerful ripple effect. It’s simple and fun, but it is also an essential starting point.”
For more information, visit cmntbl.com.