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An estimated 3,000 Quad-Citians already plan to sit down at the Quad-Cities Big Table next week to get to know each other and their community, but the invitation is still open for more.

Sponsored by the Q2030 Regional Action Plan, the event has recruited more than 300 table hosts to date, who will lead groups of 10-12 in hour-long conversations on a wide variety of topics. Neighbors, churches, work groups, organizations, students, nonprofits and complete strangers all will come together to discuss what is on their mind at Big Tables at public and private locations April 20 and 21. 

"That's 3,000 people talking about what we can do to make our community better — we should celebrate that," said Rene Gellerman, loaned executive to Q2030, an initiative led by the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce. 

The Big Table is modeled after a similar initiative in Columbus, Ohio. Gellerman said Q2030 already has committed to do the exercise again next year. 

"We're seeing, meeting and hearing from people who have not been part of the conversation before," she said, adding, "That is success."

Among the Big Table discussions will be River Bend Foodbank, which wants to discuss "Stop Throwing Away Food!" said Michael Miller, River Bend's president and CEO. 

"We love the idea of a Big Table and want anyone who is passionate about the topic to get involved," he said. "Our vision is that our community becomes known for that — we just don't throw away food that could be eaten by somebody in need — whether you're a manufacturer, a restaurant, a grocery store or an individual." 

River Bend will host its Big Table at 3 p.m., April 20, at the food bank at 4010 Kimmel Drive, Davenport. It also is offering meeting space for other Big Tables.   

Gellerman said anyone still wanting more information about Big Table or planning to host a table is invited to a training session at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, at Birchwood Fields Learning Center, 4620 E. 53rd St., Davenport. 

She urged table hosts and participants to register at quadcitiesbigtable.com so Q2030 can capture their e-mails and keep them informed as the process moves forward. 

A third-party consultant then will collect those comments and conduct a survey and analysis to help Q2030 compile the data in a community report to be released likely in July.  

"But if you have an idea to make your community better now, go for it. Don't wait for someone else," she said.   

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