Chattanoogans Gather for Causeway’s Gratefull Event
On Monday, November 19, from 11:30am to 1:30pm, crowds of Chattanoogans from all over the city and all walks of life gathered for the Gratefull Chattanooga event put on by Causeway, a Chattanooga nonprofit that supports entrepreneurship and community involvement.
The event was a continuation of the One Table event that began in 2014. According to The Chattanooga Times Free Press, the first One Table was meant to be a one-time event, but was so successful that it has now become a Chattanooga tradition.
This year was the fifth iteration of the event, a potluck meal with guests bringing sides if they can and everyone sharing a meal together, spread along the 200-block stretch of M. L. King Boulevard that they shut down for the event.
According to Causeway’s website, the concept behind Gratefull derives from noticing the drastic division between lower and upper-class neighborhoods in the city, particularly the divide created by M. L. King Boulevard between areas of middle-class wealth and areas of severe poverty and homelessness. Employees at Causeway wanted to try to change the pattern.
They decided to invite both ends of the spectrum to an event that would join Chattanoogans from all different neighborhoods, financial circumstances, and backgrounds to share a meal and spend time getting to know each other.
Causeway’s hope was and continues to be to create a safe common space, where all attendees feel comfortable asking questions, starting relationships, and hopefully stepping outside themselves and into the larger community.
In 2014, Causeway fed 700 people, in 2015 it fed 1,000, and every year since, the event has grown. As this event gains momentum, it has been recognized by other cities nationwide as a powerful force for uniting diverse communities.
This year, Causeway decided to change the title of the event from One Table to Gratefull Chattanooga, in order to open the event to other cities looking to use a similar concept without running into copyright issues on the name.
As Causeway writes on their website, “After five years of bringing together neighbors from across social boundaries for a shared meal, we are growing. One Table has already been replicated in Huntsville, Alabama, and Milan, Tennessee. Over the years we have had many other cities reach out with a desire to bring their neighbors together at their very own One Table.”
The event, whether known as One Table or Gratefull, has been a driving force for change in the Chattanooga community. Causeway writes on their website that in a survey taken after One Table last year, 100 percent of attendees reported having conversed with someone they had not known before attending.
The motto of Gratefull is “Gather as friends, eat as family,” and it is clear that Causeway intends to keep promoting and pursuing that mission in the continuation of this tradition.