This Sunday, lining Woodstock's Middle Bridge, you'll find a long banquet table -- actually, an end-to-end row of tables handmade from Vermont sugar maples -- covered with flowers and food. This will be the 10th annual Naked Table Lunch organized by Woodstock furniture maker Shackleton Thomas to bring the community together with participants in its sustainable table-making workshop.
We asked Charles Shackleton, who dreamed up the Naked Table Project and still masterminds the lunch, why anyone should care. Here's what he wrote:
By making a functional maple table from a local and sustainably-harvested local forest, and then eating a locally grown and prepared meal (the food is amazing and prepared by the famous Woodstock Farmer's Market) on all those connected tables, in a central and iconic setting, it brings home the idea of humans as makers, and it connects those makers to each other, the community and the surrounding environment and how we can actually live in balance with each other and the environment, without destroying it. It also emphasizes the point that tables are a place of coming together for family and community. Each individual table will not only become a meeting place, but also a souvenir of the forest, a memorable event, whose patina will grow through the passage of time and use as it passes from generation to generation. Each table is signed and dated by the family who made it. Sugar Maple happens to be the Vermont State tree and symbolizes one of Vermont's classic products.
The food and camaraderie won't be the only thing on the agenda. Vermont's commissioner of economic development, Joan Goldstein, will be speaking. Shackleton writes, "In her previous role as executive director of GMEDC (Green Mountain Economic Development Corp), Joan was instrumental in helping many businesses in this area recovering from Tropical Storm Irene in 2012."
The proceeds from the event will go to Sustainable Woodstock. In the past, the money has funded efforts like the restoration of Woodstock Village's east end, including moving the snow dump away from the Ottauquechee River and developing Riverfront Park, and developing alternative energy programs both for residents and municipal buildings.