ON THE TABLE, Journalists share food and conversation with local residents

We invited Bay Area journalists to host an “On the Table” event in 2019.

Since some of the best conversations often occur over a meal, the idea for On the Table was for journalists to invite local residents to “break bread together” as they candidly talk about the housing crisis. The meal could be lunch or dinner at a neighborhood restaurant; a home-cooked meal at a journalist’s house; or an outdoor picnic at a local park. It could even be held in a newsroom’s conference room.

The On the Table approach to community engagement was not your usual large-scale town hall meeting or any of the other community engagement strategies we typically employ to hear from and engage our listeners, viewers and readers.

This unique approach instead encouraged journalists to meet 1:1 with a diverse group of community residents over a meal to share candid conversation about a difficult topic, such as the housing crisis, gentrification, and the meaning of home in these tough times.

Journalists who hosted an On the Table event as part of our Bay Area Media Collaborative say it was a powerful and effective way for them to listen to and connect with the communities they serve. And the stories they have heard have helped to shape and improve their reporting on the housing crisis.

Community residents who have attended past On the Table events have also been impressed.

“The pace of the conversation was great, rather than the typical rushed time-frame talking with reporters on deadline or otherwise laser-focused on the ‘news” they want to write about,” wrote one San Francisco resident.

“I think it’s so important to be able to lift up the solutions from everyday people … to really understand the lived experience,” said a resident of the Excelsior neighborhood in San Francisco.


Check out coverage of our On the Table events:


On the Table was an initiative of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) and Renaissance Journalism’s Bay Area Media Collaborative.