The familiar sight and sound of afternoon vehicular traffic in the 800 block of Linden Avenue will be replaced for a few hours on May 23 by the sight of a long table and chairs running down the middle of the street, and the sound of area neighbors from across the Carpinteria community eating and chatting together, accompanied by live music.
“Common Table” is the name of what has become a series of events in the local area, having launched in Montecito in June of last year, followed by an event in the 1100 block of State Street in Santa Barbara in September. “No speeches, no awards, no politics” is stated boldly on promotional material for each of the Common Table events so far, “just food, connection and community.”
“This is very simply an opportunity for people of all backgrounds, and from all corners of our community, to sit down together at one long table around the commonality of food,” said Todd Capps, executive director of the Lois & Walter Capps Project, a locally-based nonprofit organization that started the Common Table events. “There is no hidden agenda, no specific issue to debate or goal to achieve. The purpose is a return to human connection, neighbor to neighbor, face to face, based on some of the most basic and joyful things that bind us — food and music, and then on the many other things we are bound to discover, or remember, that we have in common if given a chance to connect on a human level.”
Common Table will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Attendees are asked to bring their own food, beverages (nonalcoholic) and utensils to the table. Common Table organizers encourage people to purchase their food to-go from area restaurants and vendors, in support of local business. The Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market, which will overlap on Linden Avenue with Common Table on May 23, will be located in the 700 block for the afternoon.
According to Capps, those from the Carpinteria community who are planning to attend include members of the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Department, the Santa Barbara County Sherrif’s Office, congregants of a local church, a Girls Scouts troop, members of a senior living community, a mobile home community, Girls Inc., Carpinteria Library staff and numerous local businesses.
“It has been a joy to work with the people of Carpinteria in preparing this event, starting with Carpinteria City Council, who voted unanimously in favor of the event, and even waived our event registration fee as an added gesture of support,” Capps said.
He describes how the enthusiastic response from people in the community to the idea of Common Table seems to reveal a shared awareness of its significance and timing with respect to relentless opposition and divisiveness at the national level, and chronic isolation around the globe.
“Evidence suggests that a lack of authentic connection, as opposed to virtual connection, at the neighborhood and community level ripples out in an erosion of mutual understanding and empathy nationally and globally,” Capps said. “But the good news is that the reverse is also true. Sharing a meal together, no matter the cultural differences represented around the table, tends to rekindle a sense of fellowship on a deeper, more primal level. And this too seems to have the potential for a powerful ripple effect. It’s simple and fun, but it is also an essential starting point.”
Those who would like to attend Common Table Carpinteria are encouraged to visit cmntbl.com for more information.