Breaking bread and barriers, 'Common Table' hopes to foster common community ground

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Lois and Walter Capps Project hopes the community will find some common ground by sharing a Common Table.

You'll find a big long table along the 500 block of State Street Saturday and organizers hope breaking bread with your neighbor will break barriers.

"Sitting down for a meal together is one of the simplest most enjoyable ways to build bridges," said Todd Caps, Executive Director of the Lois and Walter Capps Project. 

For Todd Capps, that builds community and breaks down barriers in divisive times.

"This is really just a table and chairs and people coming and sitting down," said Capps. "This is a reminder actually that there are many things, many important and simple things, that unite us." 

You won't find politics, speeches or awards on this menu.

"Reassuring folks that there are no tricks to this, there's no secret agenda, there's no hidden agenda, I think it's helped to kind of convey the clarity and the purpose of these events," said Capps. 

All you have to do is bring your own food or purchase a meal to-go from a nearby restaurant.

"These events bring a lot of people to downtown. We love to see the foot traffic where people can go and spend time in restaurants and explore new shops, so we are really looking forward to this event," said Nina Johnson, City of Santa Barbara Assistant City Administrator.

City officials say in order to make more events like this happen, they're trying to make things easier by cutting down some red tape that caused challenges last year.

"We became a sponsor. We're very excited that we're going to be helping this group with the traffic and the barricades and the traffic signage," said Johnson. 

Capps says he understands that closing an entire city block presents a safety concern and this year it all came down to timing working in their favor.

The Common Table series started in Montecito after the 2018 debris flows. Interest in that lead to the 1200 block of State Street where hundreds came out last year. From there, folks have gathered in Carpinteria and the city's Eastside. 

"It's not so much, we're saying let's do one here and one here. The location so far has happened because people from those neighborhoods have asked us if we'd be interested in putting one on," said Capps. 

The fourth and final Common Table event of 2019 is also using art to unite the community with diverse live performances, hence the theme "Art of Community."

Capps says art is another fundamental commonality that we share across cultures and boundaries.

Our own John Palminteri will serve as emcee. 

So pull up a chair along the 500 block of State Street from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. this Saturday.

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