After Dinner Thoughts – What We Learned at the Table


Encouraging kids to unplug from the WiFi and plug into nature.

Reviving the art of neighborliness, one “welcome” pie at a time.

Putting sidewalks and porches to use, every day.

Growing a garden home for lightning bugs, crickets and birds.

Those were among the poetic ideas that our guests shared at a series of recent Jeffersonian Dinners. Each was designed to foster conversation among diverse thinkers whose input might inspire our plans for Summers Corner.

As they wrapped themselves around wonderful farm-to-table fare, our guests also wrapped themselves around heady subjects. What strengthens families? What makes a connected community? How do we embrace the traditional and the new in sustainable ways?

So what did we learn?

Well, plenty, and what follows is a sampling of our insights – a few of the common themes. Plenty of others – even a few uncommon – were floated over the series of meals:

  • Adults crave a world for their children in which tree forts, bike rides, lazy explorations and deep friendships are the norm. Many seek a place where children can be untethered from over-scheduled lives lived mostly indoors.
  • “Southern culture” is alive and well, but could use some new champions. And for our guests, that culture is best described as a gentle neighborliness. They desire a place where established residents embrace new arrivals. They long for a place where “welcome to the neighborhood” baked goods are an invitation to set a spell.
  • Families flourish when they are part of a bigger community. At the risk of sounding trite, it really does take a village. So finding ways to connect schools to neighborhoods, parks to porches and corner cafes to community gardens are all completely on point, according to our guests.
  • And perhaps the biggest finding was this: sitting down to a table and talking remains a powerful way for humans to create bonds. As Ronald Reagan once said: “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”

We look forward to changing the way new communities are born. Let’s stay connected.

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