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With ‘The Turquoise Table’: Women aim to build community

Fairmont Women of Today committee members sit at the turquoise table they plan to give away to a Fairmont resident. The group purchased and painted the table based on the book “The Turquoise Table” by Kristin Schell. From left: Elvira Houska, Kathy Vargo, Zephanie Cole and Joanna Borkenhagen.

During a time when people might be feeling socially distant, the Fairmont Women of Today are hoping to build a little community with the help of a turquoise table.

The idea comes from the book “The Turquoise Table” by Kristin Schell.

Zephanie Cole, a member of Fairmont Women of Today, heard about the book and organized a book club event to share something that brings her joy. She enjoys reading and learning.

The group ordered 12 books, members read them, and then they got together to discuss the book and how it affected them.

On the front cover of the book is the phrase “finding community and connection in your own front yard.” It speaks to Schell’s desire for community and how she found it by painting a picnic table turquoise (her favorite color) and putting it in her front yard. By doing simple activities outside at the picnic table, she found opportunities to communicate with people in her neighborhood while they were outside as well. Soon she was planning events at the table and inviting neighbors and friends over to chat and get to know one another better.

Fairmont Women of Today originally planned to donate the books to another group — and that will still eventually happen — but they saw the potential for a community project in the book’s pages: they saw the potential of starting a turquoise table movement in Fairmont.

“It seemed like something that would definitely fit within Fairmont Women of Today as something to do,” Cole said.

So the larger group formed a committee to determine how to move forward, with Cole as the leader. Committee members contacted the Fairmont parks department and asked about the possibility of painting a park table turquoise with paint provided by the Fairmont Women of Today. The idea was approved, and a turquoise table is planned for Bird Park in Fairmont.

Bird Park was chosen, Cole said, because it’s a nice neighborhood park that sees plenty of traffic from people walking by.

“I think it will catch people’s attention,” she said.

A plaque indicating that Fairmont Women of Today donated the table and a brief description of the table’s purpose will be attached to it.

To draw attention to the table — and highlight its purpose — the group will host an event at Bird Park called “Popsicles in the Park” from 6-8 p.m. Thursday. Group members will hand out popsicles and work to create a sense of community.

“I think it’s kind of nice,” Cole said of the turquoise table. “With everything that’s been going on, people might feel isolated and people are craving connection, so I think this is a way that family members or close friends can get together and connect.”

Fairmont Women of Today members might host future events at the table or have meetings there occasionally, Cole said. Maybe others in the community will use the table and want one of their own.

“Maybe other kinds of cool things will come out of it,” Cole said.

That’s not all the group is doing to spark a turquoise table movement here, though. They also purchased and painted another picnic table they plan to give away to a Fairmont resident.

Applications will be available online until Aug. 5. Committee members will choose a winner from the applicants, but they want the turquoise table to go to someone who genuinely wants to build community in their neighborhood. A couple of the questions on the application are “What’s special about your neighborhood?” and “How would you use the turquoise table to bring people together?”

Since the turquoise table movement is about community, committee members also want the table to go to someone who is willing to put it in their front yard.

“You can do that (build community) when it’s in your front yard better than in your back yard where nobody sees that,” Cole said.

She hopes the turquoise table will help the winner develop and strengthen friendships, something the Fairmont Women of Today group has done for her.

Cole, who is from Fairmont, left for college, and when she returned it seemed like she did not have many girlfriends.

“It was like life was all about business,” she said, “and I was missing that friendship.”

Joining Fairmont Women of Today helped give her new friendships, and she is hoping the turquoise table movement will catch on in Fairmont and others will develop new friendships right in their front yards.

To apply to receive the turquoise table, visit https://fairmontwt.wordpress.com/turquoise-table-application or find the link on the Fairmont Women of Today Facebook page.

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