Kristin Schell tells the story of how she longed for community and found it in surprising ways. In her book, ‘The Turquoise Table,’ she shares about how she lived in a suburban neighbourhood and dealt with many of the same challenges families here in Chestermere often face. She and her kids were feeling increasingly disconnected with each other, distracted, busy, and flustered by all the demands of a young family.
In the midst of this, Schell began to encounter her neighbours in a new way and enjoyed something she had not considered before. A few parties and gatherings started to open her eyes to a new possibility: she was not meant to be frazzled and disconnected, but in relationship and connected to those around her. She began a journey into her neighbourhood and it came in an unexpected form.
Mother Theresa once said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten to belong to each other.” Schell found that she needed people in her life and began to create a space for others to join in. One day she did something unusual. She bought simple picnic table and painted it turquoise and decided to put it in her front yard. She wondered what would happen. Would people think she was weird? Would people stop by to sit and chat? It felt strange and a bit frightening to just sit out and wait for someone to connect with. What would unfold?
Kristin Schell says that her front-yard turquoise table experiment changed how she connect ed with her neighbours right away. Within fifteen minutes sitting at her table, while simply writing in a journal, a neighbour stopped by and chatted for awhile. She writes, “despite all my worries, fears, and hesitations, on the very first day at the table I had met a complete stranger who lives four doors down from me.” It was good.
Leonard Sweet wrote that, “our culture is hungry for table time.” In my own home we have a long table, it was given to us by a friend and gets a lot of use. On halloween we had seven kids and six adults packed around our table warming up on soup before we headed out to trick-or-treat. More people are discovering the joy of being around a table and in the case of the turquoise table, something more is happening.
A movement called, #frontyardpeople is encourage people to set up their own turquoise table in their front yard. Across North America people are reclaiming their communities by setting up these tables and spending time in the front of their homes. People are meeting, connecting, and sharing stories. It’s freeing people from disconnection and dislocation and making new space for community to thrive.
While Canadians might be preparing for a cold and snowy winter, it is inspiring to think about ways we can invite people around our table, resist isolation and busy-ness, and build space into our lives for others. May you discover the joy of connecting. Turquoise table or not, you are welcome here. To learn more about this movement, visit theturquoisetable.com