When: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday
Where: 200 block of M.L. King Boulevard
More info: causeway.org/gratefull
A 240-foot potluck designed to bring Chattanoogans from all walks of life together is returning Monday, Nov. 19, for its fifth year.
On Monday, nonprofit organization Causeway will host a citywide potluck from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the 200 block of M.L. King Boulevard at one long table in the middle of the street. The event, formerly known as "One Table," is being rebranded this year to "Gratefull Chattanooga" for other cities' use as this event that aims to unite corporate heads and the homeless gains attention nationwide. As it has for the past five years, Dish T'Pass will be cooking the turkey and providing dressing, while other Chattanooga-area restaurants and individuals provide large side dishes or meals to share.
"In my experience, people actually want to get to know people who are different from them, but they don't always know how to go about it," said Chelsea Conrad, Causeway's creative director. "At this event, we are really intentional about designing an experience that makes people more comfortable taking that step and introducing themselves to someone they would probably never meet in their day-to-day lives."
According to a news release from Causeway, the event first took shape in 2014. While walking to lunch, some Causeway staff noted the "invisible wall" that divided the city's two green spaces: Miller Park and Miller Plaza. That wall visibly divided those suffering from homelessness or living in subsidized housing from those in the middle class who enjoyed outdoor concerts and lunch in Miller Plaza, the release says.
After Causeway invited everyone from both sides, and the broader groups they represented, about 700 people showed up to share a meal together, the news release states. Though the meal was expected to be a one-time event, the city and others since have embraced the concept.
In 2016, Huntsville, Alabama hosted a version of the event. And Milan in West Tennessee, with a population just under 8,000 people, cobbled together resources in 2017 to do the same. Causeway said more than 1,200 neighbors showed up in 2017 for Chattanooga's meal, and "100 percent of the people who took [the] survey said they had a conversation with someone they had never met before."
"We had to think about the resources that we had in our community to pull it off. The churches cooked most of the sides, the firemen cooked the turkeys, and everyone was able to come on a Saturday," Kathy Conrad, who organized the event in Milan, said in the release. "It was truly powerful to see our community not just serving the needy, but sharing a meal and really getting to know people who were different than them."
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.