My Kentucky Kitchen Table was not conducted around an actual kitchen table, but at a small table inside of the Davinci’s restaurant in Snell Hall. My group consisted of Scott and Abbi. Scott is a biology major from Louisville. Abbi is an accounting major from Lexington. We invited two people to eat with us. These two people are Ellery and Nancy. Ellery is a biology major from Danville, and Nancy is a professor here at WKU. Nancy and I are both from Bowling Green. The original plan was to eat dinner at Nancy’s house, but that fell through, so we decided to eat at Davinci’s.
Our conversation was all small talk at first. I actually ended up finding out that Nancy and my mom went to the same high school, but were a few years apart. Another thing that a majority of the group could relate to was living in a neighborhood. This subject came up when we brought up the question of if you know your neighbors. It may seem like a very common thing, but those of us who have lived or currently live in a neighborhood were able to discuss that feeling of community with your neighbors. Another member of my group and I both spent a lot of time with our neighbors similar ages. Nancy’s kids also have friends around their own age in their area that they can go out and play with. Eventually, our discussion became more deep. We started going through more questions in the packet, but in a casual way, so as not to be interrogative. It was clear early on that Nancy had a lot of knowledge, not just from her education, but from her experiences as well.
I don’t recall what exact conversations were sparked by each individual question that was brought up, but I do remember one thing that Nancy brought up. This idea is something that can be applied to multiple questions. She said that one of the most important values in her family has always been serving others. Her parents instilled the value of service in her, and she now does the same for her kids. She told us about how one year, her kids decided to collect money for a charity instead of receiving birthday gifts. I think part of the reason this particular value stuck with me is because it is one of the five values of my fraternity. Our five values are a guideline for us to become better men. Service is one of the values I tend to struggle with the most, because I don’t typically attempt to put any effort or time into serving. Hearing Nancy talk about her experiences with service made me realize that serving others doesn’t have to be a huge, life-altering sacrifice. It actually requires very little effort to serve your fellow man. That was the biggest thing that I learned during my Kentucky Kitchen Table – how to better serve others.
Service directly relates to two out of the three central questions of this class. The first is “How do we live better together?” This relates to service on a very basic level – treat others the way you want to be treated. If you want to be served, then serve others. We live better together when we are serving each other. The idea of serving others in your community leads to the next central question.
The second central question that service relates to is “How do we solve problems?” As we have learned in this class, a wicked problem is one with no clear solution. It is hard to solve because there are many layers. Examples of a wicked problem include homelessness, racial tensions, and healthcare. If everyday citizens got into the mindset of serving others, then we could begin to solve these problems. Let’s think about this with homelessness. More specifically, homelessness in Bowling Green. To solve homelessness, you essentially need two things: a steady income, and shelter. However, those two things are hard for a homeless person to attain on their own. If citizens who are already fortunate enough to have a steady income exhibited altruistic behavior in donating money for this problem, then it could be solved. Even better, those who own their own businesses or living complexes could offer jobs or a roof to live under. I realize that these are lofty expectations, but that is one way that our community could come together to serve those that are less fortunate than some of us are lucky to be. Like I said earlier, one of the big things I learned from my Kentucky Kitchen Table was that service does not always have to be a grand gesture. Service can also help solve smaller problems in our community.
An example of a small problem in Bowling Green is litter. It’s not a big enough problem to where you would be revolted when walking down the street, but it’s still a problem nonetheless. Anyone can solve this problem, and serve their fellow man, by simply picking up trash that you see. This might seem like a silly approach, but think about how many times you’ve seen litter and did not pick it up. That number is probably very high. It is for myself as well. If everyone in Bowling Green would take an extra ten seconds out of their day to pick up litter when they saw it, then we would all live in a much cleaner community.
Despite having some trouble with actually scheduling the meal, I had a good overall experience doing my Kentucky Kitchen Table. Davinci’s never disappoints, and the conversation was enriching as well. To sum up what I learned from my fellow Kentuckians, service is one of the keys to solving some of the major problems in our community. A saying that is used a lot in my fraternity is “service to others is the rent we pay for our space on this earth”. To me, this means that some of us are lucky enough to be able to live a fortunate life, and to serve others is the only true way to be thankful for what we have. If the citizens of Bowling Green thought this way, there would be no limit as to what we could accomplish in our community.