In her Northwest Hills neighborhood, Kristin and her neighbors have Front Yard Fridays in the spring to fall months — happy hours for the whole family. On any given Friday there are probably 30 people or so gathered at the turquoise tables. Special gatherings, like their annual Christmas caroling or Egg Dye Eggstravaganza, colonize upward of 75 people around the turquoise touchstone.
These tables are now like mushrooms after a rainstorm — popping up on front lawns around town and beyond. By her latest count, there are now 1,000 turquoise tables on lawns across the United States, and more in Canada, Australia, Uganda and France.
Part of the turquoise table’s appeal is that it’s simple and easy to do. A self-professed perfectionist, Kristin learned to let go of hosting Pinterest-worthy gatherings once or twice a year in exchange for get-togethers that were stress free and more frequent. “What I’ve learned is there is a huge difference between entertainment and hospitality,” Kristin explained. “I realized it was just bringing people together that is important. [It’s] giving women and their families the freedom and permission to just be; it’s not something we allow ourselves in our busy lives.” At the turquoise table, she and her neighbors have a routine they call “holding the bucket.” “We go around the table and everyone takes a turn spewing and processing. Knowing you’re not alone… having someone to listen and support you — that’s often all you need.”
Kristin receives stories almost daily from people who are now Front Yard People fans, hearing how different tables have become community watering holes. There’s the family who used their table to stage a bake sale and jewelry show, raising money for another neighbor’s adoption. A local workout group, iGnite, offers free ongoing workouts at turquoise tables around Austin. Book exchanges, a come-and-take-it herb garden and neighbors sharing cold water and treats to runners also use these tables as platforms. An area realtor loves the idea of the tables so much he gives them to his clients. Ad agency GSD&M, the Ronald McDonald House and nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes are just a few organizations who have added a turquoise table as a spot for their employees and volunteers to gather.
It’s a throwback to another time of front porch sitting and conversations with people passing. In a time where we are often heads-down, in a one-on-one with our smartphones, are building relationships through live conversations making a comeback? Kristin thinks so, and the popularity of the tables seem to underscore her theory. “There’s something magical that happens when we take time to sit down face-to-face over a cup of coffee for conversation,” she said. “We all long for a place to belong, to connect in authentic and meaningful ways with one another.”