The members of MT7 Hills District took the opportunity to connect with their local community recently, manning a stall at a local Community Connect Day run by Rotary.
“As a group we have talked about how to get more involved in the community, share what we do at the Men’s Table and find ways to give back to our local community,” explained member Andre Alphonso. “Before the pandemic we had looked into a few things but nothing stuck.” So when fellow MT7 member Ron Parnell suggested the Community Connect Day, MT7 decided it seemed like a good opportunity and booked a stall.
Armed with brochures they had created themselves, and MT t-shirts, caps and teardrop flags from the Kitchen, the group took turns to man the stall throughout the day answering questions, talking to the many people who came through and networking with other stall holders.
“There were questions about the specifics of how we operate – how often we meet, when and where, whether it’s a closed group
and so on, so we had some great conversations about our fundamentals and modelling healthy masculinities intentionally.
How we operate as a Table is quite closed and insular, we are not part of the community per se, so we wanted to become visible and share what we do. We positioned the day so that it wasn’t for MT7 only, it was for the Men’s Table in general, a way to promote our entire movement.”
The big reveal for the group was the power of being in the community and talking – sharing their experiences and answering questions. Andre explained that it has built further commitment among the men and pride about who they are. “It galvanised our identity as a group and the view we have of ourselves in doing something positive. It was a surprising outcome that was not expected.”
As well as the benefit of being in community, there were other positive outcomes, says Andre. “There were all kinds of stallholders such as theatre groups, choirs, women’s work organisations, volunteer groups, cancer support groups, we talked to them all. These conversations led to an invitation from The Hills Domestic Violence Network to present to their group about our community and our focus on healthy men and healthy masculinities.
We spoke to the Mayor on the day and then the Deputy Mayor came along to the DV presentation this week, so we feel like we’re increasing awareness of the Men’s Table to the Hills Council hierarchy.
“We have a new member now as a result, as well as interest from others who haven’t joined us yet. It was a great day and we’ve committed to doing something once a quarter since we got so much out of it.”
The Kitchen team are available to help other Tables who would like to do something similar in their own communities with items such as tablecloths, teardrop flags and merchandise. Email Ben & David on hello @ themenstable.org