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.”

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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.”