The Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement invites all Washington University in St. Louis students to come together for free food and good conversation at “The Longest Table,” from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6.
Students will be seated at two very long tables stretching across Mudd Field on the Danforth Campus. They will have the opportunity to make new friends, share their own civic journeys and brainstorm ideas for civic action. Stephanie Kurtzman, the Peter G. Sortino Executive Director of the Gephardt Institute, said the event is not intended as a forum for debate, but rather a moment for reflection.
“This will be an opportunity for students to ask, ‘Who am I in the context of civic life, and what is my role in our collective future?’” said Kurtzman, who learned about “Longest Table” events nationwide from Eric Jones, a Gephardt Institute graduate assistant. “This is about communicating our stories, our values and our concerns and listening to people we don’t know to learn what really matters to them.”
“The Longest Table” is one of many Gephardt initiatives that mix dining with discourse. “Civic Café,” for instance, is a weekly Tuesday dinner that features local leaders. St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones will speak at the Sept. 26 Civic Café in Ridgley Hall’s Holmes Lounge. And “Food for Thought” is a weekly pop-up event where students, staff and faculty can talk about issues of the day while enjoying snacks.
“We have found that breaking bread together really matters,” Kurtzman said. “It can slow us down and allow us to really get into a conversation. We all have had the experience of getting to know someone over a meal or coffee. When we ask thoughtful questions and listen, we find out there is more to someone than meets the eye.”
To learn more about “The Longest Table,” visit the Gephardt Institute website. Registration is requested but not required. The rain location is Holmes Lounge. Faculty and staff are welcome to observe the event.