A few weeks ago, while on the phone with my long-time friend Gail, she asked whether or not I’d heard of a book called “The Turquoise Table” by Kristin Schell. When I told her I had not, her response, “You should check it out; it strikes me as a very “Kim Muench” thing to do.”
A few days after the phone call I was driving my daughter to her friend’s house and low and behold what did I see? A turquoise picnic table in the front yard of someone in our neighborhood!
That was enough to solidify my desire to learn more. Intrigued, I ordered the book on Amazon.
It turns out that Austin, Texas author and mother of four Kristin Schell published her book in 2017 with the hopes of inspiring others to do what she has done, place a turquoise picnic table in her front yard and invite neighbors to gather for casual, impromptu meals, conversations, or events. Her intention? To reestablish what so many of us running around trying to keep up with life’s crazy schedule tend to neglect, and that is…building a sense of community.
While reading “The Turquoise Table” I became completely enamored with the idea of becoming an instigator of developing closer relationships within my neighborhood! I LOVED the concept of creating a space in my yard where we could just sit and talk, or have a simple family meal, or invite neighbors for potluck, maybe send my teenagers out to play board games, or even host donuts and juice on the first day of school for all the kids on the block…the possibilities seem endless!
I mean, how many of us really know our neighbors these days? I know I don’t know mine as well as I’d like to. How many of us are so busy we don’t like to think about inviting others into our homes because it feels like too much work? With a table in the front yard nobody has to come in because everyone meets outside!
Let’s face it, we like to complain about our kids not having enough face-to-face interaction but we’ve got to be honest and admit that being personally present to others has taken a back seat in our own lives as well. Simple hospitality and presence is a lost art.
When I’d finished the book and insisted to my husband we get a picnic table (can you believe this, we even have turquoise paint on hand from a project we did for our kitchen!), I wrote a note and placed it in the mailbox of the home where I’d seen the turquoise picnic table. Surely she’d read the book as well!
After receiving my note, Kathy Ueoka called me later that day, excited about my wanting to connect about “The Turquoise Table”; she readily filled me on all of the happenings she’d experienced since reading the book and putting her own table out in August of 2017.
“The first day I was painting the table in my garage and the neighbor from the corner came over to ask about why I was painting the table such a bright color.” From then on Kathy had one story after another about the monthly gatherings she’s hosted in her front yard and the neighbors she’s drawn in, not only from her own street, but from nearby streets as well.
“When you put your table out you can register it on the author’s website and she sends an email to you with five suggestions about how to begin.” Ueoka also shared that, to date, the turquoise table idea has made it into all 50 states and 8-9 other countries!
As I said, I LOVE this idea and I am in the process of getting one for our yard, but I also brought the concept to my boss at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth with a desire to implement simple presence and compassion for parents whose children are being treated. Together we’ve come up with the idea of a turquoise rolling cart that we will fill with coffee and tea and walk throughout the hospital floors serving drinks, smiles, prayers, and presence.
I want to encourage you to learn the entire story behind “The Turquoise Table” because it’s much more than I can explain here and there is great need for today’s world to slow down and connect. With a little effort there is so much more we can be to one another in terms of support and encouragement. Won’t you join me in helping the world become a more connected place, one table at a time?
If you already have a table or plan to become a “front yard person,” I’d love to hear about your experiences! Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.