By Morgan Bryce

Sarah and Taylor Gill of Mama Mocha’s Coffee are looking to bring a version of “The Longest Table” event to downtown Opelika on Dec. 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. to help spark small conversations and generate a sense of community togetherness.
After viewing a video of the same event held in Tallahassee, Florida, shared with her by Ward 2 Councilwoman Tiffany Gibson-Pitts and Auburn resident Carmilla Tindal, Sarah said she was moved to create one like it in Opelika.
The portion of 1st Avenue between 7th and 8th Streets will be blocked off for this free event.
The Gills will prepare a large, New Orleans-style vat of red beans with Creole seasonings, garlic, peppers, onion and celery. Jasmine rice will be prepared to accompany the red beans. Tindal will bring cookies and Mama Mocha’s will provide lemonade and tea.
Seeing today’s culture filled with “hate and crime and misunderstanding, espcially being spread across the news and social media,” Sarah said the objective of the event is to help people set aside their biases and have honest, open conversations and find commonalities.
“(We want) to feed people for free and help people meet each other that wouldn’t ordinarily. We don’t run in the same circles, we work and live differently, we come from different cultures and backgrounds,” Sarah said. “This is an opportunity to bridge that gap and start having actual, face to face conversations and hear the perspectives of other people. I’d love for everyone to come and sit with people they’ve never met and introduce themselves.”
Those who would like to bring additional cookies or condiments for the red beans and rice are welcome to do so, but Sarah said people are welcome to come and enjoy the afternoon at an event that “will feel like a family reunion.”
“It would be so amazing to start a whole culture of unity in Opelika that doesn’t depend on income level, sexual orientation, gender, education, race or religion- it’s a common ground of us all being here and wanting things to be better, to grow,” Sarah said. “I want everyone to have a space to be able to use their voice and be heard.”
Another Longest Table event is being planned for next spring.
For more information or updates, follow the event’s Facebook page.