For my Kentucky Kitchen Table project I sat around my dinning room table in Franklin, TN with five other women. Yes I wanted diversity at my table, but I wanted to keep one common variable, gender. Two of my neighbors, Maddie (18) and her mother, Amy (43) came. They are both white, middle class, democrat women who are originally from California and only moved to my hometown five years ago. Maddie is a senior in high school and her mother works in the healthcare business. My next guest was my mother, Beth. She is a 48 years old and a speech pathologist at Vanderbuilt University. She was born and raised in Bowling Green. KY to a well off middle class family. Next was my great aunt Angie (52) who i had never met before but suprisingly happened to be visiting Franklin for the weekend. She is from Owensboro, KY, single mother of two, and she works as a public defender. She is definitely lower on the socioeconomic scale and not as well off as the rest of my guests. My last guest was my grandmother, Helen (75). She was born into a poor family in Minnesota but then married and lived most of her life Nashville, TN and Owensboro, KY. She is a mother of five and has spent her whole life being a stay at home mom. For this dinner my mother insisted on cooking the whole meal so my guests did not bring food.
When we first sat down I thought I would start out with an easy question to get the ball rolling. This question was, “What do you like the most about the community you live in?” Right off the bat Amy started speaking about the neighborhood we live in and of how thankful she is that we live in a community where we can all rely on each other. My mother agreed saying how great of a community we had in Franklin and how there isn’t much she would change. Angie and Helen had different opinions on it though. They both said that growing up (and even now) they never really knew their neighbors or many people in their communities besides relatives and close family friends. They agreed that in their situations reaching out to your neighbors would be an oddity. I then branched off of this asking if they believed we had any obligations to our communities. Overall, there was a group consensus that yes there is. This may not be a very specific obligation, but we all at least have the obligation to keep the peace and unity so our society can function as it should. Going with this we touched on helping people in our community. Amy was very passionate about protecting the powerless. with protecting the powerless we discussed how and what can we do to help the powerless in the long run. Then Maddie made a really good point when she brought up the quote, “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.” As a society we are always giving to organizations and trying to do big things so that we can give back to the people in need in our communities. This is great but we need to take more of the right steps to improve our issues and do more than the ever so popular temporary fix. With the topic of helping people we also touched on the government and how it is actually very hard to make changes since we are just everyday people. I briefly touched on some of the articles we talked about in class such as the shipyard project and the healthcare in Owensboro. They were all encouraged by these because they saw them as examples of everyday people coming together for a cause.
I decided to wrap up our conversation with the most important question, “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does being a citizen mean to you?” Granted at this point we had already generally answered this question many times, but I thought it would be a good chance to simplify and sum up everything we talked about. Everyone had really good final statements on this but two stuck out to me. The first one was from my mother, Beth. She said, “Bloom where you are planted.”At first I didn’t get how it pertained to my question but then it slowly made more sense. She was saying that no matter the situation you are in, you can always do your best to make the best of it. You can always try your hardest to make your life and the lives of people in your community better. If everyone did this, just imagine the types of communities we would have today. The next statement that really stuck out to me was a little less positive, but it was said by my grandmother, Helen. She said “A house divided always falls.” This seemed a little morbid after my moms supper positive comment, but it is true. She says that citizen ship is working together and people need to realize that if we can’d do that then natural consequences will follow. Unity is the source of citizenship and that is all that really matters.
I learned a lot through doing this project. One being how interesting it is to hear all different opinions on things that people usually don’t take the time to talk about. I would have never known my mothers stance on poverty in America or that my neighbor Amy used to run her homeowner association back in California. I really enjoyed this and so did my guests. Overall I would say it was a very successful experience and something I wouldn’t hesitate to do again!