On May 17, 2017, approximately 5,000 people gathered around more than 450 tables across the central Ohio region to participate in The Columbus Foundation’s second Big Table.
The Big Table launched in 2016 as a way to bring people together to broaden perspectives and strengthen our community.
“The power of The Big Table is its ability to create authentic human connection. It’s a space where people can be vulnerable with each other—sharing their own unique stories and perspectives on how we can positively impact our community together,” said Kelley Griesmer, Sr. Vice President and Manager, Walter Family Philanthropy at The Columbus Foundation.
Participants of all ages discussed a wide variety of topics, from economic issues and poverty to education and human rights.
Big Tables were held at offices, homes, schools, churches, libraries, restaurants, and even at John Glenn Columbus International Airport. At the end of each conversation, participants completed commitment cards that captured ways in which they were inspired to personally better the community moving forward.
“Great ideas have grown out of the conversations that happened at the first two Big Tables, but the most important thing that has come from those conversations so far is the participants’ willingness to continue reaching out to the people around them.”
— KELLEY GRIESMER, Senior Vice President, The Columbus Foundation
Kelley stresses The Big Table experience is as much, if not more, about listening as it is about talking.
“The idea is to walk into a conversation ready and willing to listen to what others have to say and learn from them. It’s not about needing to change your mind, but it is about a willingness to possibly broaden your perspective by listening to and learning from the perspectives and experiences of others.”