The movers and shakers genuinely want your input. Quad-City residents — of all colors and creeds — must only show up.
Anyone who reads this page with any regularity knows that we don't wave pom-poms for PR stunts. So consider that fact when we say Quad-Cities Big Table, sponsored by Q2030, is an event that's very much worth your time.
The format is simple. Hundreds of businesses and residents have agreed to host a 10-seat roundtable. Most instances are fairly free-form. There's little in the way of a set agenda. Participants walk in and just talk.
The civil discussion of ideas is in short supply these days, replaced by division and online trolling.
Maybe you're concerned about potholes. Maybe policing in minority neighborhoods is on your mind. Maybe schools, taxes or affordable housing are of particular interest.
The beauty of the Big Table is that basically any topic is fair game. Simply search the individual tables throughout the Quad-Cities and find a discussion topic that inspires you and, just maybe, potentially contribute to a solution.
Too often, there's a small percentage of the population that makes the decision based on what's best for them. They're business owners, politicians and affluent corporate sponsors. That model tends to perpetuate long-standing tensions between those within the sphere of influence and those outside its orbit. It breeds an intellectual and political echo chamber.
Quad-Cities Big Table, by its very design, is a laudable attempt by those who enjoy influence to engage the population as a whole. This isn't some public relations stunt, either. Of that, we were convinced listening to organizers detail the event.
They truly want this to work.
Organizers told us that, while overall interest is high, they're struggling to engage historically underprivileged minority populations. It's imperative, if the Big Table's aim is to be realized, that all populations are included.
Simply put, tables packed with middle-class white people would skew the results of this little experiment. Such an event would prove incapable of compiling the holistic ethnology organizers hope to compile. We urge community leaders in African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods to organize their neighbors and ensure the Big Table is representative of the entire community — racially and economically.
When it's all over, organizers will hand the surveys over to third-party analysts, they said. By late summer, a report could be drafted detailing how the Quad-Cities sees itself. It could provide an important snapshot into the issues that plague certain communities. It could be the fundamentally democratic process that leads to meaningful bottom-up change.
But that will never be possible unless local residents visit quadcitiesbigtable.com, find a nearby host — including the Quad-City Times's discussion on the role of media on April 20 — and RSVP. The community-wide buy-in that organizers so desire won't be possible unless people show up on April 20 and 21 and contribute their thoughts and concerns.
The Big Table is an honest attempt by some of the region's most influential voices to engage the community. It's on the rest of us to meet them halfway.