What does a better Winnipeg look like?

It’s Red Table Day—a day to come together and talk over a meal about how we can make Winnipeg better!

Today United Way is asking Winnipeggers to “start a conversation that matters” with four questions that explore opinions and ideas for a better Winnipeg while breaking bread with co-workers, friends and family.

Beautiful Winnipeg.

Photo by Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press.

The initiative, called Red Tables, is part of Winnipeg Wednesdays—United Way’s 50th anniversary celebration happening throughout June.

“There’s an old saying that goes ‘You have a dollar and I have a dollar. If we trade, we’re no better off. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we trade, now we each have two ideas and are both the richer for it,’” says Ayn Wilcox, past board chair of United Way of Winnipeg and current chair of its 50th anniversary steering committee.

For generations now, through adversity and opportunity, Winnipeggers have believed in the power of coming together to share ideas. It is a concept that forges connections, enriches understanding, deepens trust and encourages cooperation.

It also a belief held by local leader Michael Redhead Champagne. For more than three years he has been making room for conversations about peace, non-violence, community, and the sacred value of youth every Friday at Meet Me at the Bell Tower.

Meet Me At The Bell Tower

Michael Champagne brings people together to talk about a better Winnipeg at Meet Me at the Bell Tower every Friday at 6 p.m. Photo by Greg Littlejohn.

“Bell Tower encourages conversation and creates a space to hear from people who are often silent. We discuss the issues in our neighbourhood, and share ideas on how we can improve them.”

Champagne says the approach is having an impact. “You can feel the camaraderie, the sense of neighbours looking out for each other. It builds confidence, and the belief that together we can create the community we want to live in.”

The concept of sharing ideas and knowledge is at the core of United Way of Winnipeg.

“Winnipeggers had a vision for a better Winnipeg, and when they came together to share their ideas on how to make that happen it led to the creation of  United Way of Winnipeg in 1965,” says Wilcox. “United Way is an organization driven by the vision and ideas of Winnipeggers with many different perspectives and experiences. Red Tables is a way to celebrate this and encourage more voices to join the conversation.”

Participants in Red Tables are also invited to share their ideas and perspectives afterwards with United Way, who will provide a report back to the community later in 2015.