Kentucky Kitchen Table-Scottsville-Ty

IMG_0003By Ty

I held a dinner in Scottsville, Kentucky, which is a rather small town in south central Kentucky with a population of 4,416 people. Scottsville is a small town and is located in Allen county right next to Bowling Green. Since Scottsville is a small town, the area around Scottsville is very rural. I enjoy Scottsville because of how calm it is and my family gets along nice in our hometown.

Even though my family is mostly conflict free, there are still disagreements in beliefs in my family. For instance, during the dinner me and my mom had a discussion over a confliction in our beliefs, which I will explain later in this blog post. There is also an assortment of ages within my family which adds to the diversity. The age diversity is exemplified by the difference in age between Meg, my sister, and Judy, my grandma, whose ages are 16 and 66 respectively.

Discussing the diversity of my family brings me to talk about the specifics of my family members who participated in having a meal with me. My sister, Meg, is a rather outgoing and dramatic individual, but I suppose she balances me out since I’m a reserved person who tries not to tell people about my problems, even when I should probably talk to someone about some of the things I worry about. My sister does well in academics but seems to dislike school. She is unsure of what she wants to do after high school and has expressed dislike for the idea of going to college. My sister enjoys playing volleyball and is good at it from what I’ve seen, and she enjoys spending time with her boyfriend Levi who also participated in the meal that I was involved in.

Levi is usually pretty reserved and seems to enjoy my sister’s company considering they’ve been together for over a year now. I tried to converse with him at the dining table while we were having our meal but was only able to get him to tell me a little about his job and family. To be honest I don’t know him very well. He lives on a farm with several siblings and works at a different farm for a job. After high school he plans to enter the workforce. He seems like a good guy but I don’t know him very well as I have stated before. My mom probably knows him better than I do.

The mention of my mother leads me into my description of her. My mom, Cindy, is a kind, compassionate person but she seems to worry too much, which may have contributed to her being afflicted with constant physical pain. Despite her medical issues, she still outperforms as a mother. I think she is the single most influential person in my life. She works as a 7th grade history teacher, which I think suits her well. Normally she would enjoy her job but teaching seems to exacerbate her pain. Fortunately, she is close to retirement. She also went to WKU with my aunt who is a teacher as well.

My aunt, Christy, is a nice person and is a 7th grade history teacher in the same school as my mom. She seems tired most of the time and I don’t see her very often now. However, I spent a lot of time with my cousin since I was friends with him when we were kids. I believe that she is a pretty good person.

Keith is the boyfriend of my aunt and he has been for a very long time now. Despite him being my aunt’s boyfriend for so long, I don’t know a lot about him because I rarely see him. He seems nice whenever I talk to him.

My grandparents attended the meal as well. My grandpa is a quiet person who enjoys watching golf and car auctions. Despite my grandpa’s quiet nature, he is still able to show his family that he loves them. My grandma is more outgoing than my grandpa and is more talkative as well. She cooks almost every other Sunday at her house which provided a good time to hold the meal for this blog post. No one else wanted to cook for the meal, so my grandma cooked on her own like she normally does.

There were also two people I had never met before at the meal at my grandma’s house. There was Greta, the mom of Keith, and Roberta, the sister-in-law of Keith. They seem like good people and they got along well with the rest of the people at the meal.

When I asked the required question of “Beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws, what does citizenship mean to you,” there were a lot of different answers. When I asked this question, I saw three different kinds of answers. One answer was that citizenship is about people’s personal rights and freedoms. Another answer was citizenship is about contributing to society. The other answer was simply put that citizenship is about being a member of a country. The varying degrees of people’s definition of citizenship helped me to understand what citizenship means to me. I think its more than just being a member of a country and I think it’s a mix having enough freedom to participate in a country’s politics while also being able to contribute that country’s society in a meaningful way.

There were also many conversations around the table while we were eating. One conversation was about a person at church who was unable to sing for Easter, which is abnormal for him. I later learned that this person at church was unable to sing because of his or her brain cancer. Its sad to see someone try to contribute something to their community but then be unable to do so because of something as terrible as cancer.

My sister was discussing whether or not she should get tinted windows on her car with my mom. For some reason my sister feels that she does not have enough privacy while she is driving. My mom brought up the point that tinted windows might make it more difficult for my sister to drive at night. I don’t really understand why a person would want more privacy while they were driving, and if the tinted windows do make it harder for my sister to drive at night, then I would rather her not get them installed.

There was then a discussion about the history of my grandma’s and grandpa’s lives. My grandma and grandpa got married at the ages of 15 and 16 respectively. My grandpa said that there weren’t any drugs in our hometown in the 70s. My grandma disagreed with my grandpa on his statement of there not being any drugs in my hometown in the 70s. He also said that there are a lot more drugs now than there were in the 70s, which might be true.

There was a discussion between me and my sister about how she is doing in school. My sister isn’t enjoying school because she feels like the teachers don’t appreciate the work she has done. She also complained about the amount of work they give, which she said raised her anxiety. When I was in high school, I don’t remember there being a lot of work, so I’m worried if my sister decides to go to college that she will be overwhelmed by the work. I guess she feels that if she is having complaints about the work in high school, then she will have even more problems with the work in college. I guess the dislike for the work in high school is why she doesn’t want to go college.

My mom and I had a discussion about how I was raised. For instance, I wasn’t allowed to say stupid or shut up in regards to talking about people. Not being able to say stupid or shut up in my opinion was a bit drastic, but I could be wrong. I also told her about my use of cuss words on occasion. She seemed to be a bit disappointed when I told her about this, but she said I was a man now and I could make my own choices. I don’t cuss around her and my sister since I know it bothers them.

So, after all these conversations, I think I realized that it’s okay for people to disagree and that disagreeing with someone doesn’t have to devolve into disrespectful arguing, which I think goes along with question of “How do we solve problems?” The history of a problem should also be considered when talking about it, which is what we talked about when my grandpa and grandma were talking about drugs in our hometown. Considering the history of drugs in our hometown reminds me of when the class read an article titled “Green Fire, the Still Point, and an Oak Grove.”

I learned in this meal that I need to get to know more about my relatives and that there is more diversity in my family than I expected. This diversity is due to the difference in age in my family and is due to the differing beliefs that my relatives have with one another. This meal helped me realize that I need to get to know my family better and helped me learn new things about my family. Overall, I think this meal was a positive experience and I hope it will lead to me learning more about my family from now on.

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Kentucky Kitchen Table

By Carter

Imari Hammock and I did our Kentucky Kitchen Table project in our hometown of Scottsville. We did the project with a group of people from Imari’s church, all of whom I had never met before. At first it was a little awkward sitting with people I didn’t know and trying to have an in depth conversation about their views on citizenship and democracy, but as the meal and discussion went on I began to feel at home with these people and I’m glad we chose them as our family.

The family offered to fix the meal, and I’m glad they did, I don’t think that we could have made anything as good as they did. They prepared two of Imari and my favorite foods, pork tenderloin and macaroni. I would love to spend the rest of this post just talking about how great the food was but unfortunately I am notGuy Fieri and I do not have a show on the food network YET, so I will now tell of the great discussion Imari and I had with this family.

On the left is Martha and Clarence, a couple who Imari has known for a long time at her church. Hayden, the boy to my left is their grandson, he invited his friend Jordan to the meal. While they are both still too young to really give solid input to the conversation, they did have a little to say before they ran away to play. To Imari’s right was Monica and DJ, Monica is the Sunday school teacher at Imari’s church and DJ is her husband. DJ was the life of the conversation and was very entertaining. While we probably still would have had a great conversation, I’m glad DJ was there as he wasn’t scared to share his thoughts and opinions but also was able to keep the mood pretty light.

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Our conversation went on a little longer than any of us thought that it would, but none of us had a problem with that, we all enjoyed it. One of the first things we discussed was what citizenship meant to us beyond the basics (taxes, voting, etc.). DJ answered first and said that “if everyone learned to respect one another, we would improve the quality of life tremendously”. Martha and Clarence answered next and stated that they are so happy that we live in a country with freedom and rights like we enjoy, but they wished that we could return to the time when people cared about one another. Monica followed them up saying that citizenship, to her, meant being with who you want to be with, really emphasizing the idea of America as the great melting pot.

What was really cool about this project was that, during this conversation, we spoke to a very diverse group of people as far as age and up bringing go, and while we had some very different ideas as one would expect, most of them repeated a lot of the general ideas, especially on their love of their families, community, and God.

I’m so glad that we had the opportunity to eat with this family and have this conversation, because it really opened my eyes returning to what we discussed after talking about wicked problems. When we look at wicked problems like racism or whatever else, we often get overwhelmed trying to think of some complicated or elaborate solution to try and hurry up and solve it, but I think that baby steps can go a long way. If we all just respected each other, many issues like sexual abuse, racism, sexism, etc. would all just go away, and in DJ’s words “would improve the quality of life tremendously.”

Our Home is Your Home

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By Imari

I did my Kentucky Kitchen Table assignment in my hometown of Scottsville with my friend and classmate, Carter. Sitting around the table with these amazing people was such an experience. One, they offered to cook the meal, and when you’re in college, one thing you miss is a good, home cooked meal. Two, the conversation was really interesting. I had the pleasure of getting to know their perspectives on democracy and citizenship. Overall, I learned a lot from every person seated at the table. I couldn’t have imagined doing this project with a different family. It was truly an honor.

The family offered to prepare the meal. It was a really thoughtful, tasty meal. Tenderloin and mac-and- cheese are two of my all-time favorite foods. However, this project wasn’t just about the food, it was about the people around the table and taking time to hear what they have to say about what citizenship truly means to them. So, let me introduce you to these lovely people. On the left is Martha and Clarence. They are an older couple who serve faithfully at my church back home. Hayden, the little boy to the left of Carter, is Martha and Clarence’s grandson. He invited his friend, Jordan, to the meal. They both love school and of course playing video games. They’re young, but they had a little something to say about the topic. The couple to the right of me is Monica and DJ. Monica is one of my mom’s friends and was my Sunday school teacher for several years, but I didn’t get to know her husband until the meal. Her husband, DJ, was the most excited about this project.

Our conversation went on for a while, but I enjoyed every bit of it. We talked about citizenship, what they love about where they live, and the importance of family and a community. The subject of citizenship and democracy is touchy to many people, especially the people of Scottsville, who have gone through so much lately with all the crime going on. One of the questions I enjoyed hearing their answers to was what citizenship meant to them beyond voting, paying taxes, and following laws. They all thought part of citizenship is to stop criticizing one another and start working together to build a more positive community. DJ said, “If every citizen learned to respect one another, we would improve the quality of life tremendously.” It’s not enough to just vote and follow laws; the life of a community should be safe and happy.

Being the older couple of the group, Martha and Clarence had a lot of experience and insight. They loved the fact that they were born into a country where there is freedom and rights. However, they wished we could all go back to the days where people actually care about each other. Monica emphasized that citizenship means being with who you want to be with. It makes America the melting pot. To her, citizenship also meant living in a safe community and not being afraid to sleep at night. The kids didn’t really know what citizenship meant, but after it was explained to them, they agreed that they should be able to live in a safe environment where they can go outside and play and be safe.

What helped this experience be so great for me was the fact that they brought so much diversity to the table. One, they were diverse in age. We had an older couple, a younger couple, and some children. They were also all in different walks of life, faced different things on daily basis, and had different opinions. One thing that stuck in my mind afterwards was they all agreed on what they loved the most about where they lived: family. With all the things going on in the world and in the community and the fact that they all have busy lives running here and there, they always make time for family. They could remember having meals with their family every Sunday after church and everyone would come. Now, they make sure every Friday night, they’re seated around a table giving thanks to God for each other and for the time they have together.

I learned that citizenship is and should be important to essentially everyone. While sitting around the table, I couldn’t help but think of one of the central ideas of this class: the metaphorical bridge. The left represents where we are and the right represents where we want to be. In order to make progress across the bridge, we must take baby steps to move toward the goal. One way to make good progress in crossing the bridge is to practice democracy. This has to do with all the things being a citizen consists of: service, how we talk to each other, what we buy, and how we live.

It was a pleasure sitting around the kitchen table with these wonderful people and getting the chance to talk about topics no one really wants to talk about. Everyone was so welcoming and hospitable. All the conversation and laughing was great, but the best part was hearing them say, “Our home is your home.”