The Longest Table, a free community dinner meant to foster conversations and friendship, welcomed 850 guests next to Sertoma Park in mid-September. Today, the results of those conversations continue to build momentum with funding awards for seven projects, totalling $10,000, set to launch in 2024.
The event featured an uninterrupted table spanning 1,250 feet along 11th Avenue South. Organized by the Community Foundation and the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals, participants gathered for facilitated discussions focused on healthy habits to achieve better mental and physical health. Following the event, participants were invited to apply for funding of up to $2,000 with the goal of getting ideas off the table and into the community.
Of 22 applications, 7 grant recipients were selected to receive funding for their proposed health or wellness related project:
“These projects reflect the importance of positive well-being, particularly as we emerge from the after-effects of a global pandemic. They also represent the many diverse types of wellness, including physical, emotional, environmental, social, financial, and spiritual,” said Becca Baumbach, Executive Director of the Community Foundation. “Each of the 22 ideas brought forward shows that a simple community conversation can spark a world of possibilities. That is what the Longest Table is all about.”
Applications were open to individuals, organizations, and businesses. The selected projects will seek to address challenges, implement new ideas, or inspire healthy habits through community lead efforts.
Through their project, Traditional Medicinal Gardens, grant recipients Renee Cardarelle and Jennifer Compeau hope to provide education regarding native plants used by indigenous people for medicinal and wellness purposes. “Native medicinal gardens have been used for centuries to maintain the health and well-being of communities. These organic herbs can provide fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients, cancer-fighting antioxidants, as well as medicinal remedies. In addition to the direct benefits to health, the gardens bring people outside, where they can work together to create healthy spaces.”
Community members will be invited to plant, maintain, and harvest the gardens as well as learn about the plants and how they can be properly utilized.
Additionally, the organizers hope this project provides a space for indigenous people to experience healing from past traumas and reconnect with their heritage. As an indigenous woman, Jennifer believes in the process of healing by embracing her culture and traditions, which she sees as intricately connected to her sense of identity and wellbeing. Through this project, she hopes to more deeply explore her own indigenous heritage and share that with her children and her community.
Another grant recipient, Kayla Hochstetler, will work with members of the Community Agency Networking Association (CANA) to prepare and disperse Survival Packs to people experiencing homelessness in our community over the next year. The Survival Packs are backpacks containing emergency supplies such as a sleeping bag, hand warmers, blanket, tarp, food items, bottled water, hand sanitizer, and other necessary items to survive outside in North Dakota.
In her application, Kayla said, “our community partners work hard to link individuals with available resources, but the reality is that there are situations in which immediate emergency housing cannot be secured and individuals are sleeping outside in our community. The Survival Packs act as an immediate resource to keep individuals alive, while a sustainable and safe long-term plan is developed.” The grant award will provide 30 Survival Packs for the summer months and 30 Survival Packs for the winter months with appropriate items for each season.
More information about the grant recipients and their projects can be found at longesttablegf.com.