On the Table Event for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Author: Molly Blower

On September 27th 2019, Courtney Vaugeois, Jenica Ng-Cornish, other MABRRI staff members, and I hosted an On the Table event in the Master of Community Planning (MCP) Lab on the VIU campus. On the Table is an initiative, first introduced by the Vancouver Foundation, which brings people together face-to-face to chat about what matters most to them. The MABRRI team used this platform to host a potluck lunch, which fittingly fell on a day dedicated to protesting the government’s inaction on climate change, to speak with over twenty MCP students about the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Firstly, everyone grabbed a plate and tucked in to the impressive array of food that everyone had brought in. The MCP students and MABRRI team brought international dishes including pirogies, pakoras and Nanaimo bars. Everyone took a seat at any of six tables, which had all been set-up in advance with a large piece of paper, thought provoking prompt cards, and markers. As everyone tucked in to lunch, we gave a brief PowerPoint presentation to introduce the background and key elements of the SDGs. After the presentation concluded, the conversation at each table commenced.

Each table had a MABRRI team member to guide the conversation if necessary, although the conversation was meant to be unstructured and self-directed. At my table, the main theme of our conversation centered around whether or not any person could read the title of a goal and decipher what it means. One person thought that these short goal titles are too broad for all audiences to understand, while others believed that the broad goal titles are essential for highlighting the multi-dimensional nature of the SDGs. Some other topics of conversation included the definition of “sustainability” and the application of the SDGs in the MCP student’s major project. Some groups used the paper and markers provided to visually represent their conversation, while others just chatted.

In my opinion, the event was hugely successful in fostering conversation and awareness about the SDGs. I look forward to the next SDG event with MABRRI!