Look at this gorgeous table, created by Lia James, who's not only a talented facilitator and (Our) Me Power exemplar but also a brilliant woodworker/artist.
Picture of The Traveling Table provided by Lia James
Lia crafted The Traveling Table from a slab of Red Oak (an American hardwood) out of central Virginia. Red Oak is a timber tree belonging to the beech family. She used a food-safe finish called vesting oil to give the surface a beautiful shine and protection against moisture.
As a woodworking expert, Lia explained the details of wood warping and finishing with such great detail that even as a novice, I could understand. When she texted: “vesting oil has low VOC and is a healthier finish compared to polyurethane lower VOCs,” I nodded and noted how I had no idea what that meant. Later, I googled to piece together an understanding.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a large group of chemicals that are found in many products we use and often don’t think about, like formaldehyde, which is one of the most common VOCs out there because it is present in everyday products. Lower VOCs are healthier for us and the planet.
The legs of the Traveling Table (made by a local artist) are made of aluminum and are hand-sculpted to form a beautiful sweeping shape. Lia chose to leave the wood unfinished in its earlier days so that its natural beauty could shine through. You'll notice how the wood grain pops once the light hits it in just the right way.
The Traveling Table is now finished. Lia did all of the finishing work herself, meaning that she completed the tasks to prevent swelling and cracking, protect against stains, and enhance the appearance of the wood.
Even more beautiful shots of The Traveling Table are in the video above.
Self-knowledge is a journey, not a destination. It’s not about getting to a certain point and then being done with it. It’s about being in the moment, exploring your strengths and capabilities, and taking steps forward every day. The self is like an onion. When you peel one layer, you find another. The more layers you uncover, the more you realize how much work there is to do. You peel back layer after layer, opening the onion to see what’s inside. You peel off one layer and then there’s another one underneath it, and you keep peeling away until you get to the core of your authentic self. No matter how much progress you make, there’s always more to learn. This is Me Power in action, and you will continue to hone it for the rest of your life as long as you choose. - LaNysha T. Adams, Ph.D. in Me Power, pp. 89-90
Why should I care about the Traveling Table?
Let’s help Lia reach her goal to continue breaking stereotypes and building empathy. The purpose is for collective empowerment, or “we” inside of “me” described in Me Power. In my interview with Lia, she said:
I want to help bring people together in order to see each other’s perspectives and to be more curious and more open-minded about who a person is. What does that do for all of us? Will we be more empathetic? More innovative in how we solve problems? All of those questions are what I am trying to explore.
Every dollar you contribute supports:
✨Elevating local eateries. Lia only caters dinners from small, local eateries owned by women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, neurodivergent, differently abled, and/or other groups traditionally underinvested.
✨Hiring a small, locally-owned production company to capture these conversations and gatherings, edit, and produce the YouTube series.
✨Employing local youth with a livable wage for support in pre-production logistics, day-of support, media, and marketing support. In addition to being paid a livable wage, youth will get exposure to creative jobs and skill development through mentorship designed to help them enter the workforce. This has the potential to change their long-term career trajectory with economic impact.
I am thrilled to announce that I will be seated at The Traveling Table very soon! I cannot wait to see it in person, meet new people, and make friends with strangers...IN REAL LIFE (IRL)! Stay tuned for more updates.
Who created the Traveling Table?
Lia James = a Consultant, Executive Coach, Facilitator + Professional Woodworker + Craftswoman. Lia is “known for bringing people together in the most unexpected ways,” according to her LinkedIn profile.
She’s always happy to “geek out” about the future of work, workforce development, non-traditional career path planning, organization development, diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and hiring and retention.
What is the Traveling Table?
Let me answer this question with a question: When did you first learn NOT to talk to strangers?
Maybe once you started to notice that there are clear social boundaries that define how we treat each other in everyday life—boundaries that are necessary for us all to feel safe and respected in public. When people ignore those boundaries, whether intentionally or not, it can make others feel unsafe or uncomfortable—we don't want an uninvited interaction.
We're constantly being told that we need to be careful and protect ourselves, but what if instead of focusing on the bad thing that could happen, we started focusing on the good?
When I heard about Lia’s concept, I was enthralled. The Traveling Table is born of a very simple idea: that if we take the time to sit down with strangers and focus our attention on connecting with them, we can make connections that last long after the meal itself.
The table is set up for community building: At the Traveling Table, you share a meal with strangers in a comfortable environment. Lia’s design of the physical space and intentionality for it to be safe resonates with me deeply.
In today's (post) COVID-is-here-to-stay world, where many people are disconnected from each other, it is rare to find opportunities for strangers to encounter each other and enjoy an experience together.
When we do come across these opportunities, it is difficult to take advantage of them due to our hesitation in trusting others with whom we have no prior relationship. I appreciate and applaud Lia's courage in bridging the gap between strangers through her work at The Traveling Table.
Many studies have shown that when we share food, it shows trust. We can also apply this principle to relationships; sharing food with someone is one of the most intimate things you can do. Sharing food brings people closer together and helps break down barriers between them. By eating together, we’re experiencing a sense of belongingness and sharing a moment in time.
Where is the Traveling Table?
It’s currently in Baltimore, but once the project is fully funded, it may be coming to a city near you!
Three ⚡️ in 31 Seconds
⚡️ Who else should I profile as a Me Power exemplar? I have a long list from the book, such as Cheryl Rich. I wonder if you know any people I can interview and highlight here. Please tell me who you want to see profiled here.
⚡️ There is no Me Power without self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the foundation of every aspect of learning, and it’s inherently social. Learning to unlearn, learn, and learn again is the basis of self-knowledge. Answer the question: how will I choose to learn, unlearn, and relearn something today?
⚡️ As one of several guests in the dfree® Movement #AskTheExperts series hosted by Dr. DeForest Soaries, I was invited to share my survival story of cardiac arrest while writing Me Power (see the video below). Tapping into your limitless potential is what Me Power, deepening your knowledge of self (who you are) + principled action, is all about. Dr. Soaries noted: “There's a difference between who we are and what we do.” How would you describe the difference?