The Chicago Community Trust kicks off its seventhannual On the Table initiative on Monday, Oct. 12, recognized as Indigenous People’s Day by the City of Chicago, to spark conversations throughout the Chicago region about what matters most in this moment.
On the Table is an annual forum that invites residents from diverse backgrounds to gather over mealtime conversations to build personal connections and explore how they can work together to make the Chicago region stronger. The Trust is hosting On the Table in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Human Services’ new Healing Illinois initiative.
“Healing Illinois presents a wonderful opportunity for people to participate in On the Table and use the intimacy of meals with others to have meaningful conversations about racial injustice and the small steps each of us can take to repair harm and achieve greater racial equity in Illinois,” said Daniel Ash, Associate Vice President of Community Impact for the Trust.
The Illinois Department of Human Services, in partnership with the Trust, launched Healing Illinois as part of the state’s holistic response to COVID-19 and the racial disparities its impact revealed. Healing Illinois is a step toward racial healing and the larger mission of fighting poverty and ending racial inequality for all Illinoisans. A total of $4.5 million in grants will be distributed by the Trust to organizations that conduct racial healing activities, helping to build a bridge toward a racially equitable Illinois.
Nonprofit organizations can apply to use Healing Illinois grants to host On the Table conversations. Both individuals and organizations are invited to join On the Table conversations or host their own conversations between Oct. 12, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021.
“On the Table is designed to bring people together around a common purpose,” said Ash.“It’s an opportunity for people to listen, understand each other, and learn from one another’s experiences.”
Martin Castro, president and CEO of Casa Central, is hosting a virtual On the Table conversation on the evening of Monday, Oct. 12 to discuss ways to overcome tensions that developed between Latinx and Black communities during the George Floyd protests. Black and Latinx leaders from the nonprofit, philanthropic and business communities as well as young community activists will be a part of the conversation. The conversation will be an extension of Castro’s initiative called “2/3rds United,” a network of Black and Latinx leaders seeking to develop concrete ways for bringing African-American and Latinx communities closer together.
“This is not about a think tank, this is not about rhetorical questions and kumbaya. This is about what can we do in concrete ways to make a difference in our two communities, and more importantly, bring our two communities closer together,” Castro said.
Because this year’s On the Table launched on the same day as Indigenous People’s Day, the Trust has developed a resource guide containing resources and articles that raise awareness about Indigenous People’s Day. The guide also offers an array of tips on planning and hosting conversations, including virtual conversations, and taking action.
In light of COVID-19, the Trust expects many On the Table conversations to be held virtually. For those who chose to convene in person, the Trust encourages people to follow the guidelines set by the Illinois Department of Public Health.