I’ve learned a new word – tabling. That’s what I did yesterday at the VA hospital in Asheville.
The VA was having its Combined Federal Campaign, (CFC), a kind of souped-up United Way campaign for Federal employees. And Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, as part of Earthshare, was invited to exhibit. I volunteered to table the FMST exhibit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Three hours of talking up the MST to anyone who showed up.
The VA organizers had planned this well. The CFC exhibitors were in a multi-purpose room across the hall from the cafeteria exit. They were holding a chili cookoff–$5 would get you a bowl of chili and allowed you to vote for your favorite entry. The money would also go for CFC. The idea was that employees would get their lunch and come to the room to look at the exhibits.
The Friends of the MST table was well-situated, to the left just as you entered. As people came in, I was able to chat them up about the trail. I started off with
“This is your North Carolina trail.” Blank stares from most people.
“You’ve driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, of course. Have you seen the whole circles on trees and posts?” Some sign of recognition. Then we had a conversation. If they had heard about the trail, they said “I understand that it’s not finished.”
“But it is. It’s just not all on trail, between two sets of trees. I’ve walked it,” I said. “And it’s on trail for 300 miles in the mountains.”
But few people came. I talked with 15 people in three hours, not a great turn-out.
The other groups focused on people who needed help–Manna Food Bank, American Cancer Society, Council on Aging, … Most of the other tables had lovely displays but no one staffing them–whoops–tabling them so there wasn’t much competition.
Still a few people wrote down their names for more information. At least two or three might actually come out and maintain trail. So on that score it was a success.