Community seems hungry for another round of On the Table, says Franklin Tomorrow


Community seems hungry for another round of On the Table, says Franklin Tomorrow

Franklin Tomorrow Executive Director Mindy Tate (right) and the nonprofit’s board chairperson for 2019, Allena Bell, share some introductory remarks at Tuesday morning’s Breakfast with the Mayors at Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin. // Photo by John McBryde

By JOHN McBRYDE

Franklin Tomorrow is ready to set the table again.

The nonprofit released its results Tuesday morning from a post-event survey that was taken by participants in last fall’s On the Table initiative, and Executive Director Mindy Tate said the community is eager to, well, chow down again.

“Participants are ready for the next steps,” Tate told the crowd of people who attended the year’s first Breakfast with the Mayors held at Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin. “What we learned is, three age groups identified the same top next steps for action, learned more about the issue or solution to get more involved in the community and also build relationships and collaborate. … So those three [age-group] responses really fall into [Franklin Tomorrow’s] mission, which is connect, learn and engage.

“We have committed to host another On the Table event sometime this fall,” Tate added. “We are going to be identifying this week and next week with our hosts ways that we’ll continue the conversations and other initiatives and programs we’ll also look at to continue the conversation.”

As Franklin Mayor Ken Moore looks on, Nolensville Mayor Jimmy Alexanders talks about his growing community. // Photo by John McBryde

On the Table was introduced last summer and was put into action in late October, with members of the community coming together to share a meal and have a conversation on what they consider important topics in Franklin and throughout Williamson County. The initiative launched with more than 400 people participating at Rolling Hills during October’s Breakfast with the Mayors, and meals and conversations continued at various locations for several days later.

Participants were then asked to complete surveys on how their particular outings went. There were over 50 public and private events, and participants ranged from youth to retirees and came from more than 30 unique zip codes.

From the survey, Franklin Tomorrow learned:

  • 66 percent of respondents believe they can have a moderate to big impact on making Franklin a better place to live. “That’s optimism, that’s great,” Tate said Monday. “We’re hopeful that we can continue to make Franklin a great place to live. We can continue to move the community forward so it remains a great place to live.”
  • 45 percent are already involved in issues they care about, while 39 percent said they are too busy
  • Additionally, 24 said they are unsure of how to get involved. To address that, Tate said, “we want to provide more direct access for volunteer opportunities in the community. To do that, we’re going to work with Hands on Nashville, United Way of Williamson County and other organizations to act as a clearing house through our website and through our communications to provide opportunities for people to get involved.
  • 48 percent met people they did not know while participating in the On the Table events.

As far as issues discussed, housing was at the top.

“[It] rose to the top when asked to identify the top three opportunities for improvement in Franklin today, but the focus was less on affordable housing for low-income individuals, but more fully reflecting on the need for attainable housing options for people in various stages of life and at various income levels,” Tate explained.

Second was the broad topic of transportation, with a desire to see greater connectivity and more pedestrian access between residential neighborhoods, downtown and Cool Springs, and “to morph land planning away from such a strong focus on the car.”

Third was the theme of growth and development, with a strong desire to see the city’s small-town charm maintained while recognizing that growth will, and should, continue.

Additional information gleaned from the survey includes:

  • 84 percent of respondents said they always vote in local elections;
  • 71 percent left with a better understanding of how they can personally address the challenges/opportunities facing the community;
  • 42 percent of respondents had lived in their current home for less than five years, with more than half (53 percent) living in their current residence for 10 years or less.
  • Specific programs to reconvene conversations begun through On the Table through other programs, as well as through a second On the Table event in Fall 2019.

In addition to releasing the On the Table survey results, Tuesday’s Breakfast with the Mayors featured the annual mayoral summit. Discussing specific issues were Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson, Franklin Mayor Ken Moore, Brentwood Mayor Jill Burgin, Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham, Nolensville Mayor Jimmy Alexander, Fairview Mayor John Blade and Thompson’s Station Alderman Brian Stover, who was sitting in for Mayor Corey Napier.

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