How do you cultivate community? It’s a question we have been asking a lot over the past two years. It is a key part of our identity as an organization. We’ve tried (and failed at) many different approaches. We started Table Talk several years ago as a place for people to gather across cultural boundaries and talk. Mentorships came next, and have been a fairly successful attempt at family-level connections. Bridge dinners (pictured below) happened a few times as we tried to cultivate a space for in-home gatherings that mimicked Table Talk.
The PLACE is perhaps the largest scale experiment to this effect, with long-term results yet to be seen. What we’ve tried to avoid is becoming only a refugee service center, but honestly that’s what we’ve seemed to land on by default. The vision was never to be a place refugee friends come only to “get help” or be taught. We want it to be somewhere people WANT to be, to just exist, talk, laugh, and enjoy participating in things that other people also enjoy doing.
To that end, we are looking to slot in people in the community to come and do things THEY enjoy, not to be a teacher or offer some service, although those things are good too. Do you like playing music? Grab some friends and plan a jam session one afternoon. Knitting? Games? Art? Coffee? Do your thing, do it at the PLACE and see if it attracts immigrants to join you in community. This is obviously a very loose idea, but we want to give things a space to grow naturally and try new ways of engaging our neighbors. It might work, it might not. But we’ll never know unless we try… Email us if you have an idea you’d like to try out!