KKT in My Hometown Louisville

By Morgan           

             I did my Kentucky Kitchen Table in my hometown in Louisville, Kentucky. I was joined by my neighbors Dennis and Linda, my mom, my sister Regan, my brother Carson and his girlfriend Callie. Dennis is retired and his wife Linda works for the Core of Engineers. My mom works as a financial manager for a law firm in Louisville. My sister is currently in vet school in Auburn and is engaged. My brother is a criminology major at U of L and plans on joining the LMPD. His girlfriend Callie is also a criminology major at U of L who plans on becoming a paralegal.

            When asked to defined citizenship, we came to a consensus that citizenship is a responsibility to contribute to the community which includes the obvious paying taxes and participating politically and it also means helping out the community when it is in need. We also discussed there is an obligation for citizens to serve each other which can mean volunteering at a soup kitchen to serve the homeless in the community or donating food and clothes to those in need. Volunteering is an important part of being a citizen. All citizens should find some way to volunteer in the community in order to better the community. This idea of citizenship relates to the lecture on service and public work. Public work was defined in the lecture as people working together with others to help them which could be applied to the definition of citizenship we discussed. Every citizen should work together to help solve social issues in their community.

             We also discussed gun control and various issues surrounding it. My neighbor Dennis is pro-gun control and his argument is that gun violence can only be solved with more sanctions on gun sales. He does not think Americans should not have access to guns, but that it should be very limited in order to prevent tragedies such as school shootings, gang violence, or drive by shootings. My mom, my sister, my brother and I all disagreed with this. We argued that there is already a system in place to do background checks but it is nearly impossible to know whether or not someone who purchases a gun will use it safely and legally. Majority of the people who purchase guns at stores like Cabelas uses guns safely and responsibly. My brother argued that blaming stores that sell guns for gun violence is equivalent to blaming car dealerships for selling cars to drunk drivers. We agreed that prevented Americans from purchasing weapons leaves them unprotected. This can be considered a wicked problem. Both sides to the argument provide valid statements but neither “solution” would solve the problem with gun violence. Allowing for the sale of guns can lead to the use of them for gun violence, but can be used as protection for citizens against these people. On the other hand, banning guns would make it very difficult for criminals get access to them, but the common American would have no means of protection against people who find a way around the system to purchase weapons. Either way there will still be violence.  

            Finally I asked everyone around the table which social issue was most important to them. My neighbor Dennis believes the healthcare system in the US is the most important issue because healthcare should be a fundamental right for all citizens. Linda is most concerned with the lack of job opportunities and the large unemployment rate in the US. My mom is concerned with the education system specifically in Louisville where the public school system is lacking so private school is the better option for those who can afford it. She thinks there are too many public schools and not enough spots for students in the best public schools like Manuel and Male. My sister is also currently concerned with the education in this state, specifically with the cuts the government is trying to pass for spots in professional programs in veterinary science and optometry. Since Kentucky does not have either a vet or optometry school, it covers a certain amount of tuition for students in other states. She is concerned with them cutting spots for the fall semester after students have already been accepted into certain programs. She also believes it is unfair to cut spots for only these professional programs but not other programs. The most important social issue to my brother is the affordability of higher education which has continuously gotten more expensive. Callie is most passionate about gender equality mostly in the career field. The legal field tends to be male dominated so she wants to be paid as much as men in the paralegal field and treated equally on a professional level.  

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Kentucky Kitchen Table in Owensboro

By Hannah

My Kitchen Table Project took place in the good old Owensboro, or as many of us like to call it “the dirty”. I went to my grandparent’s house, Virgil and Jane (not pictured). We had a few other family members there and some family ‘outsiders’ that I had not met before or do not know as well. My grandpa Virgil, or as I call him, Papaw, grew up on the farm and often tells many of his old tales from living with the farm animals and walking miles to attend school in a small one room building. My grandma, Jane aka Mammy, grew up in a nice christian family with a little more money and opportunities than my Papaw. Also joining us was my brother, a 20 year old stay at home community college student. Also attending was My aunt Debbie, her two kids Michaela (her new finance, Bill, who recently moved here from North Caroline) and Patrick. Last not but not least Were two of my other cousins Wes and Audra. Wes graduated from UofL and is now in the National Guard. Audra finished her education with high school and now helps with her family’s horses and works in a factory. With the variety of ages, education, and city/country life we had much diversity. It was also interesting to get to know Bill since I had never met him before. (We all contributed to part of the meal).

When asking everyone what citizenship meant to them, I received a wide variety of answers. Wes, who is in the National Guard, felt very obligated to serve his country and be up to date with everything happening to be a well rounded citizen. He believed you should be actively involved and helping in any way that you can. My brother, Caleb, felt his citizenship was more defined just by your political actions. To him being a citizen entails being very up to speed with anything politics and actively voicing your opinions and voting when at all possible. Everyone else joined at the table didn’t have much of an opinion on their citizenship except that they lived in the country and felt they should vote. Michaela mentioned something with having good morals and stepping in to help other citizens when needed.

The rest of the conversation seemed to then find itself among the lines of education obligations. Bill found that everyone had an obligation to become educated and get a well paying job to support yourself and any future family. My cousin Audra, who did not attend college, found that there are ways to work and find yourself and have a successful life without higher education. My brother Caleb found himself in the middle. As a night time community college student who is a manger of a Chick-fil-a during the days, he found that you can always find a balance between the two. He doesn’t necessarily need to go to college but he is to further his education and become a better business manger in what he does. It was very interesting to view the different stand points on higher education and whether or not it is necessary. This reminded me of Jane Adams and her failures at medical school for some reason. Not everyone goes to college and if they do are always successful. But in the end you find your path along  the way and get to where you are supposed to be. For some that might include higher education and for others it might not.

IMG_2059(My grandparents have a very small kitchen table so we pulled out collapsable tables in the garage!)

 

 

Kentucky Kitchen Table- Louisville, KY

By Olivia

I ate dinner with my boyfriend and his family. Mike, my boyfriend’s dad, is a very kind man that doesn’t talk often but when he does, he always has something valuable to share. He is a mechanic.  Monique, my boyfriend’s mom, is originally from the Netherlands and moved to the United States about thirty years ago. She works at a coffee shop and enjoys cooking. She insisted that she make the meal and that I was not allowed to bring anything. Kalina is my boyfriend’s older sister. She also works at a coffee shop. She is very outgoing and enjoys laughing with others. My boyfriend, Robbie, is fairly quiet. He likes making up stories and trying to get people to believe them. Their family moved to Kentucky three years ago from California. I have met Robbie’s family once before, but this was my first time having a real conversation with Mike. I was excited to use this project as an excuse to get to know them more.

The first question we discussed was “What does citizenship mean to you?” This was when I learned that Monique is not a citizen of the United States. Monique was born and raised in the Netherlands. She speaks four different languages. When she moved to the United States, she acquired a green card. Before answering the question, I asked her if she had considered becoming a United States citizen. She said that she had definitely thought about it. The rules for citizenship have changed a lot in the past ten years. The United States is very strict about how one can go about attaining citizenship. She would most likely not be granted dual citizenship and would have to give up her citizenship in the Netherlands. Monique is not willing to give that up and is planning on continuing to live with a green card. She does pay taxes and feel that she is a part of her community just like everyone else. Kalina feels that part of being a citizen is being a good person. She gave the example that if you see a guy beating up his girlfriend, you are obligated to call the police. She feels that looking out for each other is an important part of being a citizen. Mike had another view. He believes that the definition of citizen has been warped since the government has become what he called “corporate.” He believes that instead of the government benefitting the people, the people are working so that the government can get more in debt and less out of debt. The people don’t own anything themselves anymore; the government owns everything.

We continued to the question “Does your religious background affect how you think we should treat each other?” Everyone at the table agreed. Monique elaborated more. She said that growing up as a Christian helped her learn that we need to take care of those in need. We are not to overlook those that need help. Mike added that it was once the churches’ job to take care of the needy, but the government usurped control of that job. He believes that job is done much better when private organizations are in charge. Robbie tried to steer the conversation back on track to remind everyone that we weren’t talking about welfare, but about helping the community as a whole. Robbie agreed that we all have a moral duty as citizens to help each other.

Through this dinner I learned that caring for others is very important to other people than just my family. Although religious backgrounds did affect their beliefs, this can be applied to many different, diverse groups of people. Having a religious background in this situation is not a bad thing, it’s very positive. I also learned that there are very negative views of the government out there, but people are sitting on those views and doing nothing about them. It was very interesting to hear from Monique since she has experienced life in the Netherlands and in the United States. Her outlook gave the dinner something that my family dinner couldn’t have had.

This relates to the overall importance of citizenship and being a good citizen. Like Kalina mentioned, it is important for citizens to look out for each other. It shows that we care about our neighbors, our community, our country, and even our world. It implies an unwritten duty that is higher than the laws and regulations. As seen by Monique, citizenship also doesn’t just apply to just citizens. It applies to everyone living in the United States. Somewhere in time, we decided that we have the moral obligation to care about someone other than ourselves, and that it is our duty to improve the world around us. That is being a good citizen.IMG_3351

The Memphis-KY Kitchen Table

By Emma

Sitting around the messy, unorganized table you see in this picture is a fairly interesting group of humans. The lovely woman in the blue shirt is my mother Anne-Marie, the little man in the red shirt is my brother Benjamin, the goofy man in the gray shirt is my neighbor Darren, and the couple to the right is comprised of my sister and her new boyfriend Hannah and Tristen. Anne-Marie works at a locally owned soap store by the name of The Bartlett Soap Company, volunteers frequently at the Oak Elementary, and is never shy in sharing her opinions. Benjamin is a current second grader with a passion for reading, science, and video games. Darren is a warehouse manager who writes poetry and has a passion for all things music, especially jazz and heavy metal. Hannah, a senior in high school, is a genius planning on going to Ole Miss to study chemical engineering. Finally, Tristen is Hannah’s boyfriend, also a high school senior, works in an auto garage and adores cars, guitars, and noise.

We began our discussion with hummus my sister made and pita bread my mom picked up from Kroger. I found out quite interesting things about every single person, especially Benjamin. Anne-Marie is extremely adamant about universal health care and the health care existing as a basic human right, the responsibility of the government to allocate their expenditures not to quantity but to quality and access. Though my mother is loud and never farouche when sharing her opinion about issues like the presidential race and the education system changes in Bartlett, Tennessee, I’ve never heard her speak on health care with such vivacity. Darren is passionate about unemployment as apparently he was once part of the population and clawed his way up from the bottom. Hannah was once almost taken by an eating disorder, an event that I too experienced with her hand in mine, so her social issue was eating disorders. She labels them as an “underestimated killer,” having known firsthand that many doctors, nurses, health professionals, peers, and even parents do not embrace the fact that eating disorders are indeed a mental illness, not just a mindset that can be overcome. Tristen’s social issue is stands in the presidential race. He has an outstanding and unswayable opinion on the candidacy of Bernie Sanders and his potential as president. And lastly, Benjamin’s social issue stood in how other children and parents treat his friends who moved to the United States and do not speak very fluent English. Kids and even their parents ostracize these children who are already incredibly shy, nervous, and very eager to make friends.

The main focus of conversation centered around citizenship and the ways to make ourselves more effective, educated community and world citizens. We also explored how compassion, logic, and psychology contribute to citizenship, just as in class. Both of my parents have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and I knew that the concept of “the elephant and the trainer” would catalyze a explosive conversation. Darren emphasized that compassion functioned as a mountain while the government was logic functioning as the mountain climber. He explained this as compassion is unique and winding just as a mountain. When a mountain climber, or the government/logic in this sense, goes to hike a mountain, he/she can not predict how the mountain’s curves, crevices, bumps, and grooves will turn out to be. However, it is up to the mountain climber to not give up to the mountain’s complexity. With experience and climbing more mountains, the mountain climber can begin to understand how a mountain works, how to overcome its biggest inclines and its deepest trenches. In essence, the government can fully comprehend the more difficult situations by overcoming the ambiguousness of compassion and applying logic, or itself, to compassion.

In the end, the dinner ended up being more than just a conversation about community, but a newfound bond between family and neighbors. There was laughter and rough-housing, smiles and love. After being separated from my family for the first time in my life, I’ve felt lonely and disconnected from the people with whom I spent my life. I also didn’t grow up eating family dinners or spending a lot of time as a family unit, but this dinner was revolutionary for my family and for me.

 

 

Kentucky Kitchen Table

By Austin

Let me start by saying I am a pretty awkward person as it is, and typing on my computer or scribbling notes while people were talking at dinner would have made me very uncomfortable and my awkwardness worse, so I did not record what everyone said verbatim. But while none of these answers are exactly what the guests said, I questioned them until I understood their answers enough that I could write about them without changing their intended meaning.

So let us begin.

INTRODUCING FIRST! From LaRue County, Kentucky, standing at 5’ tall, Mrs. Katy Cecil! Mrs. Cecil is a high school English teacher and Larue County High School’s Speech and Debate head coach. She has been a mentor to me since my freshman year of high school. In fact, she is the one that convinced me to apply to college in the first place, and she still helps me when I have no idea how to do something… like organizing a dinner with people I don’t know. Also, she is the reason that our dinner wasn’t a potluck. She wanted tikka masala, which only Mr. Cecil knew how to cook, and nobody else knew how to complement.

Introducing second, from somewhere in Colorado, standing at 6’3” (ish), Mr. Cecil! He is also a teacher, but he teaches Honors and AP Chemistry. I never had Mr. Cecil because as a sophomore in high school I was somewhat of a slacker and took the easy class. He cooked dinner and it was absolutely amazing.

Next, we have the Cecil’s daughters, Elena and Elise. Elena is 15 and attends the high school that her parents teach at, and Elise is 10 and goes to an elementary school in the same town.

The man taking the picture is Ellis Fraser. He grew up in Louisville, but moved to LaRue County his senior year of high school and competed on the speech team that Mrs. Cecil coaches. He went to WKU for a degree in Film, but now he is the assistant coach of the Speech team.

Also there, but not pictured, is my friend Damon Helton. I told you I’m awkward, so I wanted someone goofy there to counteract my awkwardness. He answered some of the questions, but his answers won’t be featured in this post.

I think it’s safe to say that while this group of people has much in common, there is a fair amount diversity. All different age groups are represented, from Generation X, all the way to the new generation born after 2000 that there isn’t even a name for yet. Ellis and I are both Millenials, but even though we are technically the same generation, there is quite a bit of difference in what we remember from the ‘90s. Also, perhaps most obvious, Ellis is black. I think that gives him a rather unique perception of the world. Less obviously, I am Mexican. I may not look Mexican, and I may not have a Mexican name, but I can assure you I group with plenty of Latino culture in my house. Also, we were all born in different places and we’re all from different financial backgrounds. Ellis was born in Germany, I was born and grew up in LA, Mrs. Cecil is from Kentucky, and Mr. Cecil is from Colorado. Even the Cecils’ daughters were born in Michigan. All of this contributed to our collective uniqueness, which I hope will be enough to make this post what it needs to be.

Now for the fun part, dinner.

I started out with questions from the packet, like “Do you see your job as serving a greater purpose?”  but it eventually just turned into a conversation about community. It was quite interesting hearing the benefits of small town from someone that grew up in a small town, left their small town, and eventually came back to find that they loved it even more. Mrs. Cecil said that nothing can beat being able to text the pharmacist a question, and knowing they will reply almost immediately. It’s actually quite funny seeing things like that in action. Mr. Cecil agreed that it is nice knowing everyone and knowing that if he was running late, he could call and the pharmacy, or the bank, or the grocery store would stay open for him. He did say, however, that he would prefer to live in a big city. Ellis, too, said he likes the city more than small town life. But they both acknowledge the benefits of being close with the people of your community. It’s all relevant to our class because a big part of what we talk about is community based; community communication, community betterment, etc. Even the wicked problems that we’ve discussed, all of the papers that we’ve read agree that the changes necessary to “solve” them have to start at the community level.

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Louisville Kentucky Kitchen Table

By Sarah

At my Kentucky Kitchen Table, I invited six guests to my house for dinner. My mother graciously offered to take the picture of us all, but her skills are not the best and she cut off halves of two faces. She also insisted that since strangers were coming to the house that we had to use nice silverware and plates to give a good impression on my guests. Nevertheless, my table included Mr. Dennis and his wife Mrs. Dennis, a couple that I know from church, Kara, who is a teacher at a middle school in Louisville, Paige who is a senior student at University of Louisville who brought along two people she knew from a diversity class, Kelsey who is a sophomore and Max who is a senior student and an immigrant from Cuba. I felt that this group provided a variety of insights and backgrounds to the table. For dinner, Kara prepared a salad with fruit and candied walnuts, I made a family recipe of Hot Brown Casserole, and the Dennis’s provided bourbon ball ice cream to round off a very “Kentucky” kind of dinner. Kelsey provided the flowers seen in the middle of the table, and Max brought some beverages.

One topic I wanted to discuss was family meals. I thought it was important to understand how these people felt and were willing to speak up based on how comfortable they were with eating at a dinner table regularly. I had grown up eating at the dinner table with my whole family every night, so this was commonplace for me. Both of the Dennis’s had agreed, Mrs. Dennis’s family was very tightly knit and Mr. Dennis’s was too, and now they had dinner nightly together in their own home. Kelsey and Paige said their families did not do it every night but did it often enough. Max said that he did not have them much recently, but growing up they were very important to keep the family together. I thought it was interesting, and after I asked this I wanted to see who spoke up the most about politics and citizenship. It seemed that those who had grown up regularly having dinner meals every night were the ones leading the conversations around the table, regardless of age. Those who had not had many, or not as many recently, were quieter and pitched in their opinions more when the rest of the group paused the conversation.

The main conversation that they all were willing to talk about was different political and citizenship topics, and I was really interested to see how they felt about being an active citizen and participating in the election coming up this year. All of us were registered to vote and so we all had a stake in the election somehow. Kara and Kelsey had said they had not voted before due to different circumstances but were now eager to participate. The Dennis’s had voted many times before and even in the last presidential race and were looking forward to voting again. Max and Paige had voted only in local or statewide elections previously but felt that that was enough for them and their civic duty until this fall when a new president is elected. We were divided almost halfway between Republicans and Democrats, with one more on the left side. It was interesting to see how everyone fit on the spectrum, especially Max’s point of view being a strong conservative and very into the political sphere of this country.

I learned that where a person is from impacts how they view their participation in their community. It is my assumption that those who forge stronger bonds with their families over discussions at regular intervals, such as family dinners nightly, possess a higher drive to participate in ongoing conversations about the world around them. Even though many of us held opposing views about politics or the nature of citizenship, it was clear that we all had some kind of idea as to what was important and what made a good participant in the citizenry of Kentucky. I felt that this was such a wonderful opportunity for me to learn from people of all different backgrounds and I am very thankful for this opportunity to experience this kind of diversity in my own household.thumb_IMG_4595_1024

Kentucky Kitchen Table in Bowling Green

By Brittney

My partner, Callie, and I went to Mike and Carly’s house (because of scheduling changes, Callie’s friend was unable to come). They are my aunt and uncle, but I thought it would be neat to have a discussion with them, because they are extremely religious. Mike works at CGS Machine and Tool and is a WKU grad. Carly is an artist who owned a business with another painter and recently opened a store in downtown Franklin. They have four kids, three of which are home-schooled. James is 19, works at Southern Kentucky Granite, and loves working on trucks. Jon is 17, works at Chick Fil A, and is being called into ministry. Anna is 16, loves to bake, especially pies, and will graduate high school early. All three love playing basketball. Olivia is 14 and is artistic like her mom. Callie and I sit across from each other in class and didn’t know anything about each other. She is a senior and will take a year off before medical school because she aspires to be a physician. She has multiple jobs and is “just trying to figure out life.” She is not religious, describing herself most likely as agnostic, so we were able to get different points of view during the discussion.

Carly insisted on fixing nachos for dinner, which we finished before taking the pictures. After eating, we started the discussion by asking the first question (What does citizenship mean?) and saw where the conversation went. Each person’s view came out in his or her answer. Mike said it meant responsibility to your community and country and “sharing history and working to change laws to improve the community.” Mike’s dad and brother served in the military so he believes we have to protect and exercise our rights and share that history. As an educator and active community member, Carly said, “teaching and participation.”  Callie said it is “fostering the community you want to live in,” which makes sense because she has different jobs like the manager of a water park who trains lifeguards who care for the public’s safety. We then discussed how to create the communities we want. Anna said she creates her community by helping her elderly neighbors with daily tasks. We all agreed that helping people is important and helps create the communities we want, and it takes all people with all abilities. Each member of the family has different abilities. Some are athletic, some are fixer-uppers, some are cooks, and some are great with technology, and each person tries to utilize his or her talents. Callie wants to use her skills and dedicate her life to helping people in the medical field and I want to help students by being a high school teacher.

As we discussed helping others, I brought up the video we watched in class of the girl being run over. I asked if we have an obligation to help others. Callie believes people are fundamentally selfish and must overcome that instinct. We should help people but we do not have any actual obligation, and I agree with her view. However, as a Christian, I understand Jesus expects us to help others. My family spoke strongly with the belief that we do have an obligation. Jon said it is a conviction and James said “If a person can ask for help, help him. If he cannot ask for help, definitely help him.” Anna said that they have been blessed so it is their job to pass on the blessing.

We continued discussing ways to help others in their neighborhood and workplaces. It reminded me of the recent reading “The Energy Diet.” Andrew Postman takes small steps to reduce his family’s harm to the environment. His small changes added up and led to a few other small changes. I believe that my cousins take small steps each day to share their faith and better their community, and I think those actions encourage others to take small steps, too. Jon mentioned how he can be the difference in a customer’s day and while at work, he tries to take initiative and do what needs to be done. Mike discussed how he must monitor his actions and reactions as a supervisor. He must show respect and keep his emotions in check. James said he follows his motto, “Do the best you can, because that helps the community. Callie discussed her jobs both at the water park and in the Communication Department. She monitors her words and actions, too. I’m a student but I try to help my friends, peers, and others on my residence hall floor.

I asked the question “Does your religious identity relate to your role as citizen in any way you haven’t mentioned?” in order to hear their specific thoughts, because I could hear their faith in all their answers. Jon said, “If you believe something, you shouldn’t have to say it. It should come through your words and deeds.” And it sure did. That is why they focus so intensely on helping others. It reminded me of the early reading “If It Feels Right.” Young adults were asked about morals and right versus wrong, and responded that it is an individual decision. Everyone has different views, experiences, and beliefs, so it is up to each person to decide. My cousins are a different story, though. They are firm in their beliefs, which is admirable, but can come across as judgmental. They typically believe there is a right and wrong, so I wonder how they would operate in situations with gray areas.

My family said they usually have in depth discussions about tricky subjects like this, so it was not unusual for them, but it was fun. I enjoyed listening to their opinions which I typically don’t hear and learning more about them. I also enjoyed getting to know Callie more and hearing her views. I thought this was an enjoyable activity and hopefully I can create conversations like this with my immediate family, friends, and neighbors at home.