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Trench: Collaboration and conversation make for strong communities

Growing up in a family of six, there are very few evenings that I can remember where we did not all eat the evening meal together around the kitchen table. There was never an agenda, but it did (1) strengthen our relationship; and (2) keep us informed with what was going on in everyone else’s life.

Community works like a big family and is at the base of most everyone’s lives – whether it’s the town you live in, a gym you regularly visit, your place of worship or a club you belong to. These communities bind members to a common place, a shared desire to strive for success and most importantly, a shared investment in making the whole community greater than the sum of its parts.

With such shared invested interest in communities throughout Will County, the negativity and all too often stories around violence, corruption and all things wrong with the places we live is bewildering. Isn’t it time that we pulled together around the kitchen table and dedicated some time to discussing the future of our communities and how we can ensure a positive, strong future for the places we live?

The Community Foundation of Will County is supporting a region-wide endeavor by our parent organization, The Chicago Community Trust, called “On the Table” to do just that.

On May 12, thousands of residents across the northeastern region of Illinois will sit down for intimate mealtime discussions – in backyards, kitchens, community centers and churches with colleagues, neighbors, friends and strangers – to discuss ways in which we can take back our communities and create and sustain strong, safe and dynamic communities.

With “On the Table,” anyone and everyone has the opportunity to gather a small group and host a meaningful, productive conversation. I encourage all residents of Will County to join other area counties in this effort.

Start by visiting, to learn more about this project, explore what it entails to host such a conversation in the Tool Kit provided, and to sign up and host an event and have your ideas heard.  

There is no agenda, just an opportunity to strengthen our community relationships – however that is defined – and explore ideas that will make our communities even stronger.

• Michael Trench is the executive director of the Community Foundation of Will County.

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