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Begin Here

Over on our Facebook page, Cathie, a fellow Oregonian, shared a poem by Joy Harjo, which we think beautifully describes our goals here.  “Perhaps the World Ends Here” opens with the lines “The world begins at a kitchen table.  No matter what, we must eat to live. ”  We’ve set up this table as a place of beginning, too.  This is a place to nourish our views and ideas so we can begin to work together to improve the state we all inhabit.

One of my favorite parts of this poem comes in the middle, when Harjo writes,

Babies teethe
at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what
it means to be human. We make men at it,
we make women.

I love the line “It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human.” For me, this is why the image of the kitchen table serves our purposes so well; it is at the table where we begin to learn how to interact with one another, to hold our forks and keep our cups upright. We learn manners and begin to civilly ask one another to please pass the butter. The kitchen table is an instrument of civilization, and so it makes perfect sense to me to think about what we’re doing here – trying out a tool for engagement – as a kitchen table.

In some ways, we’re all the babies teething at the corner of Oregon’s Kitchen Table.  When we sign up and take our seat, we’ve all become part of this big experiment in trying, together, to help Oregon “put ourselves back together once again at the table.”

Read all of Joy Harjo’s poem “Perhaps the World Ends Here,” and thanks to Cathie for sharing it