My Kentucky’s Kitchen Table took place on November 10th, at my house, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I invited 8 people over to join me including two people from our class. Ron is my dad who always has on a smile when talking to people and actually loves to cook so when I told him about this dinner he was very excited to say the least. He works at Western Kentucky University, and as I said, loves talking/discussing with people of all ages, so this was truly his element. Jennifer, my mom, is a wonderful person who truly cares about everyone. She also works at Western Kentucky University and loves helping out in her local community in many different ways. Someone I didn’t know very well was Jason who is Luke’s best friend. He is known to be one of the smartest kids in his grade, as well as quiet but can be very funny when you get him talking. Luke is my younger brother, a sophomore in high school, who is also smart and enjoys swimming as a sport. He might be one of the goofiest people I know but that also is only of the best parts of his personality. Another goofy person is Luke’s friend Abby. She is one of Luke’s newer friends, but it didn’t take long to realise she is very energetic which goes along with her love for acting. I just recently became friends with Hope through my honors 251 class but also she lives right across the hall from me in Minton. She is very talented at both singing and acting which fits perfectly for her musical theater major. Scott is also one of my newer friends from my class. He is a biology major who may seem quiet, but has a very funny and sarcastic sense of humor. It may not seem like a super diverse group but we all had different views and topics to bring to the table.
The dinner was so much fun to be a part of because we answered many questions in a serious matter but also had so many laughs throughout the dinner. Starting with the main question, “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship
mean to you?” Jennifer began talking about how she believes it’s important to help out in local communities. She gave examples of how she has helped out through things through church and also through her job. She also talked about how she volunteered her time to help Jeanie Smith campaign for Kentucky Senate. Hope explained her opinions on how she thought it was important to support local businesses, like local theaters. She has worked at her own towns local business of a consignment shop. I brought into the discussion how I did not realise how much the library really does help in our community until I started working there last year. The library helps a lot in the community by holding different classes, free books (obviously), children’s programs, and so much more. We all agreed that it was important to help out your local community in any way that you can. I feel like this really goes along with how we can live better together, by working together as a community.
Neighbors and neighborhoods came up as a topic as we shared where we are from and Scott talked about how he lives in a place with no neighbors. Scott is from Hardin County which is a very rural and small community. Although Bowling Green is usually explained to as small, the rest of us grew up next to neighbors. Jennifer explained that when my brother and I were younger or even when she was growing up, talking to your neighbors and interacting with them was a lot more common. Hope shared that although she had neighbors, she never seemed to speak to them. Abby shared how when she was younger, the houses around her as a kid were very close and the kids would always play together after school. We all talked about how people might still seem to be kind to their neighbors but the dynamics are definitely changing and have changed over time.
We began to also talk about the kind of communities that we each wanted to live in, in the future. A majority of us love our current community but are thinking of moving somewhere larger in the future. Abby, Luke, and Jason all explained that they would prefer to live in either New York or Chicago in the future. With Abby’s goal of being on broadway in the future, I can see her thriving in New York City. We asked what Luke and Jason hoped to do in those larger cities as well as with their career choices and they weren’t sure yet. They knew they wanted to leave this smaller type town and hopefully figure out their passion later in life through college and more experiences. This led to the topic of asking if we thought people’s current/future jobs led to a greater purpose. Jennifer shared that she helps a lot in her job with different events for students and also in the community. Ron also shared that he thought that when he raises money it helps students to have nicer facilities and also different scholarships. Hope wasn’t really sure how job could help serve a greater purpose, but Abby explained that she could inspire younger children to love the theater world. Then scott of course, with his pediatric job, could help sick children get better so they can help others in their lives.
Social issues were brought up when we tried to get both Luke and Jason to talk more. We asked what social issue was closest to their heart. Of course being sophomore boys they weren’t the most serious in their answers, but it did give us some laughs which added a light mood to the more serious topics. After hearing their ideas of helping the Amish and letting dogs off their leashes I added a more serious social issue we could talk about. One social issue that is close to my heart is mental health awareness. I asked if anyone had any thoughts or opinions on this and everyone was in agreement that the stigma is needing to be squashed. Abby then added that it would be helpful if people had easier access to getting the help they need. Ron agreed with that and talked about how people should also be educated more on the topic and that it should be added more into the schools.
One of the more personal issues involved in our lives at the moment was the mold problem at Minton Hall. This dinner took place during the time of the Minton Mold disaster, so you can imagine how much we discussed our anger. Hope, Scott, and I were all explaining how frustrated we were with the situation. Hope and Scott were already moved into their new homes for the next couple of weeks, but I still had to move the next day. We talked about how we think there could’ve been a better way to handle the situation, but this was before we got the email about the $1000 credit on the housing cost next semester. Still a very unfortunate situation that we had to experience.
Everyone was curious if Hope, Scott, and I did these types of deliberations a lot and we laughed because we basically do them every class period. We explained how we have had an ongoing project about deliberations with groups of people on different topics. Hope explained her topic, which I was a part of, trust in the media, and then Scott shared some on his topic of the criminal justice system reform. We realised some of our more important actions, in both topics, included adding more education on these topics in the school systems. Jennifer explained how she felt that educating the youth at an appropriate age would help solve some issues in many deliberation topics people might have.
Overall I had a wonderful experience during my Kentucky Kitchen Table project and was glad I could host one for some of my classmates. We enjoyed a meal of caesar salad, lasagna, garlic knots, and a wonderful mud pie for dessert. My parents all gladly made this for the extra few people than they normally had and it was quite delicious. We shared many insightful conversations that I believe made everyone think a little differently but my favorite parts were probably the laughs. Usually when we take part in deliberations they are all serious and although I do enjoy them, it was nice to take a lighter note on one. I think we all saw both the elephant and the rider in each person as we discussed through the dinner. I would love to do this kind of conversation again with some of my other friends and family to see how it would differ from this one.