A member of our Community Advisory Board, Zinith, took us around the city and showed us some of his favorite spots. Many of us had never ridden the public bus, so we were in for a treat. We had much to learn from Zinith that day. Listen to a bit of his story below:
Searching for a place in the city has not stopped A Place At the Table (APATT) from engaging places in communities. APATT’s outreach stretched so far last week that it needed a bus—a city Capital Area Transit (CAT) bus!
Most of us have the luxury of regarding buses as transportation, but for others it is community too. Frequent riders frequently see each other. They share daily stories of joy and toil. I have seen workers ride with their bucket, brushes, and squeegees; women maneuver strollers, groceries, and tots; and a therapy dog sit at a passenger’s feet. Buses are a slice of life from communities they serve.
APATT bused through a side of town on which I used to live, so I became its tour guide. Long ago I was the only English-speaking passenger on this route to my downtown office. Numerous uniformed Hispanic women, beginning their very early morning with cheerful interaction, headed to the bread factory on Hillsborough Street across from Meredith College. Today that factory is a mini-mall. Tattooed young people operate the many small businesses in it. One of them had been our destination—the Lucky Tree.
The Lucky Tree is a café/art store/gallery. The twin sisters who own and operate it maintain a garden and bake their own gluten-free treats. Quality food is on their minds. Our group sat where chairs and a sofa around a table fostered the intimacy of a home. We learned about evening poetry readings and live music. On the sisters’ minds is community too.
I told Maggie what the Lucky Tree especially meant to me. Difficult were my early years following neurosurgery for the tumor that disabled me. Places like the Lucky Tree (formerly the Royal Bean) became refuges in a city I was not quite ready to navigate. Still, urban trekking proved healthier than staying home alone sick a lot. I learned to “work the buses.”
What I had not told Maggie is how, in one outing, I learned about ringing rocks. She knows I love geology. For the Lucky Tree employee, conversation was about alternative healing practices using sound. For me…like, what are the odds of meeting someone knowing of a Pennsylvania park whose rocks ring? Better managing my health these days, I contemplated a celebratory bus or train trip somewhere. I may very well have a destination now!
One does not have to be into rocks, just into community where the veneer of “stranger” peels and good food, conversation, and—well, engaging life—happens. APATT envisions the end of someone’s CAT bus ride being a place at our table too.