Welcome Table New Orleans
What: The Welcome Table New Orleans is an initiative of the Mayor’s Office focused on race, reconciliation and community.The Welcome Table will bring diverse groups of New Orleanians together to share experiences, share stories, build relationships, listen & learn from each other and finally create and execute projects that will build a better, stronger city.
How: Welcome Table Groups (diverse groups of no more than 25 people) will come together to work through a facilitated process of discussion, relationship building and action. By meeting in safe, civil, secure, structured and facilitated spaces, Welcome Table Groups will be able to work through each phase to build greater understanding of each other and critical issues facing our city.
Welcome Table Groups will meet in various locations throughout four parts of the city: Central City, St. Roch, Algiers and Little Woods. However, any resident of New Orleans will be eligible to participate. Projects that develop from each Welcome Table Group will not be required to take place in the neighborhood in which they are conceived.
Who: All residents of the city of New Orleans are invited to sign up for a potential spot in a Welcome Table Group.
Why: Since his time as Lt. Governor, Mayor Landrieu has had a keen interest in racial reconciliation and community building. In 2004, Mayor Landrieu learned of the work of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation (based at the University of Mississippi). At the time, The Winter Institute had been working exclusively on reconciliation efforts in Mississippi. With Louisiana and Mississippi sharing similar histories with race related conflicts, then Lt. Governor Landrieu began conversations with the Winter Institute to share their proven model with Louisiana. Those conversations slowed when Hurricane Katrina hit, but when Mayor Landrieu assumed office in 2010 the opportunity to engage in racial reconciliation efforts rose to the forefront again.
The Winter Institute was chosen as the City’s partner because of their proven model of success in Mississippi and the shared alignment of values with the Landrieu Administration, that is, bringing diverse groups of people together who seek common ground.
After a process of focus groups, test retreats and meetings, the City of New Orleans received a $1.2 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to implement a multi-year process to support a racial reconciliation initiative in the city. The Winter Institute, which uses its own funding to do its work, will provide training and technical support. The Urban League of Greater New Orleans, also a partner in this work, will also provide technical assistance and serve as the initiative’s fiscal agent.