Real Women, Real Stories | Kristin’s Story: Creating Community in the Front Yard

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preview-full-KristinSchell

Roots: I was born and raised in Dallas, but as they say got to Austin as quick as I could. I moved here in the 80s to go to The University of Texas and aside from a couple of years in Washington, DC and Paris, France ATX has been home.
IMG_1688Family life: Tony and I met at a UT football game but post-college. We got married New Years Eve 1997 and have four kiddos – Will (15), Anna (14), Ellie (13) and Sarah (8).

My favorite quote: I have so many favorite quotes, mostly because I love to read, but my current favorite is “You can’t be what you can’t see,” by a woman I admire greatly named Jo Saxton. The context of Jo’s quote is discipleship and how we need good role models to pave the way. I think of the women who have taught me so much, not by anything they’ve written or even said, but simply by how they live their lives.

Something people may not know about me: I’ve lived in some interesting places — like Siberia where I learned to ice fish! And, a tiny village in France picking olives. I love to experience foreign cultures. For me it’s all about the people and how truly one we really are.

My Story: Creating Community in the Front Yard

JaneKovak, Austin

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t met.” – William Butler Yeats

A couple years ago, I had a big dream – this vision – of living in a community where neighbors knew and loved each other well. I knew a handful of our neighbors, but for the most part our interaction was limited to friendly waves from the car, brief chats at the grocery store, and our annual Memorial Day block party. The block party is a highlight of the year, but twelve months is a long stretch of time between neighborhood get-togethers.

I felt a tug to open our doors wide and invite neighbors, friends, and even strangers into our lives on a more regular basis. But, as a busy mother with four children and an introverted husband, the how-to was a big question mark.

Then, I read these words by Francis Schaeffer in the book A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester:

“Don’t start with a big program. Start personally and start in your home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Begin by opening your home for community. . . All you have to do is open your home and begin.”

At first I hesitated. But, I longed for more than an annual block party. I wanted real and meaningful relationships with my neighbors. I wanted to know their stories, hear their sorrows and troubles, and celebrate their joys.

So, I took the dare!

The Turquoise Table

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In October 2013, prompted by a last-minute party I was hosting, I ordered an unfinished picnic table from Lowe’s. I didn’t think much of the table when I ordered it online. It was just an ordinary picnic table.

Until I saw it. And, I knew.

The Turquoise Table Invite

The turquoise table is great for planned or spontaneous meals & gatherings

The simple wooden picnic table was destined for our front yard. After the party, I painted the table bright turquoise (Sherwin-Williams Nifty Turquoise, if you’re wondering) and placed it under a magnolia tree, close to the edge of our lively street.

That’s when life changed. The very day I put the table out front, someone who needed to get out of the house – a neighbor I’d never met – walked past and stopped to talk. We sat at the table and started a friendship. Next, curious people from across the street stopped by and stayed for a cup of coffee. By week three, both spontaneous and planned gatherings were happening regularly at The Turquoise Table.

Now a familiar sight, The Turquoise Table has become a meeting place – like the old village well – for neighbors, friends, and even strangers to hang out and do life together. The table spurred a front yard revival in our neighborhood.

JulieWilliford

The turquoise table is a place to gather & love – friends hosting a Shoe Cutting Party to benefit children in Uganda

When neighbors from a few blocks over learned about The Turquoise Table, they wanted one, too. I remember thinking, “This is crazy! Am I really supposed to encourage people to put turquoise tables in their front yards?”

Now, two years later, The Turquoise Table has turned into a movement of Front Yard People – people just like you and me who want to create community right where they live. There are now countless turquoise tables in front yards across America, even as far away as Uganda.


 

Blog1__0000_1Want A Turquoise Table? We’ve partnered with ReWork Project  — a non-profit  helping those struggling with homelessness find a path to permanent housing through the dignity of work. These special turquoise tables are hand-made, painted, and delivered! To learn more and order a turquoise table, click here.

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What about you? Will you join the Front Yard People movement, too? For more information, visit my blog.

 

 

 


iGnite’s Real Women, Real Stories is a series highlighting the inspiring lives and experiences of women in our community. We hope their stories motivate and inspire you to live your life to the fullest.

Know someone who would be a great candidate for a Real Women, Real Stories feature? Email nominations to hello@igniteyourlifenow.com


 

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6 thoughts on “Real Women, Real Stories | Kristin’s Story: Creating Community in the Front Yard

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