Remember back in May when folks from across the region participated in over one thousand mealtime conversations throughout the course of one day in an initiative called On the Table? Perhaps you yourself participated.
If you have been wondering what resulted from that one-day, region-wide campaign, you can now read about it in the official impact report. On Tuesday, The Chicago Community Trust released a report prepared by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE) that summarizes the outcomes and impact of the On the Table initiative.
On May 12, 2014, the Trust convened On the Table 2014 as a way to engage the Chicago metropolitan region in dialogue about how to build a more sustainable future for the region and improve quality of life for all residents. Through the conversations, the Trust hoped participants would 1) share bold new ideas on how to move the region forward and 2) strengthen relationships and build collaborations needed to improve communities region-wide. The Trust invited IPCE to assess the overall impact of the initiative.
IPCE’s findings respond to three important questions about the nature of the event: who participated, what was discussed, and how did conversations impact participants? Overall, On the Table incorporated many voices (an estimated 11,500 people participated in 157 cities, villages, and towns across the region, not to mention the over 8,500 digital conversations), generated thousands of ideas for how to improve communities and address community-specific issues, and inspired new connections and concrete follow-up action steps.
The following are key observations extracted from the report about the outcomes of the conversations:
- On the Table successfully brought together previously connected and unconnected individuals from across the region to engage in rich conversations about how to move the region forward.
- Survey responses reveal that respondents are interested in a wide range of issues, but education, community engagement, equity and social inclusion, and collaboration were the most common themes of the discussions.
- The conversations revealed a breadth of interest and a depth of knowledge on issues discussed by respondents.
- Respondents indicated an interest in working with others to address community-level issues.
To keep the momentum going and help spur some of the On the Table ideas into fruition, six collaboratories built around shared ideas will be held during Chicago Ideas Week (October 13-19). The working groups will refine the ideas into a sustainable plan with the help of Chicago-based innovation firms and will pitch their plans to a panel of investors in April 2015 in hopes of securing financial support for implementation. The six collaboratories finalists are:
- Asset Mapping
- The GenG Project
- Opportunity Hubs
- Parent Engagement Roadmap
- Sister Neighborhoods
- Where is Your Bench?