In their cozy office in Northwest Austin, Garland, Leigh, and BJ are accustomed to people approaching them, whether it’s for insurance queries or in search of a marriage and family therapist. Yet when BJ told them about the Turquoise Table movement, the officemates realized that this was their opportunity to approach others.
The Turquoise Table in the Workplace
Leigh, who is the therapist arm of their business – Ashley Cole Benefits – as well as Garland’s daughter, ordered a picnic table and had it placed under a sprawling shade tree across the parking lot from their building. Around Labor Day of last year, she had it painted turquoise, with a little custom flair.
Across the top of the table, in white script, it reads:
“Welcome To The Turquoise Table, A Fun Place To Gather Friends And Neighbors.”
Along the bottom of the table, it continues, “Love One Another As I Loved You … John 15:12.” And on each corner of the benches is their office location, stenciled in the same script: “Bldg K, Suite 2.”
“I liked the fact that it was a place for everybody to gather,” Leigh said. “I’ve just been convicted that we’re not meeting our business neighbors.”
The trio has used the table themselves, sometimes with clients or their families, or for meetings. But what they want most is to see their office neighbors enjoying the pretty spot.
Its seats have been filled here and there, sometimes by office workers, or by clients served by the many therapists in their complex. Recently BJ saw three women sitting at the table meditating while another played the flute.
“I remember the first time we saw somebody sitting out there. I went running out there and talked to them,” Garland said, adding with a chuckle, “But have I done it since? Nope.”
Co-Workers Make Great Front Yard People
Garland, Leigh, and BJ quickly understood that putting out a Turquoise Table is only the first step. Inspired to use it more, with a big nudge from the Love Where You Live campaign, they have started to make personal changes that embody intentional outreach.
Garland lives on a cul-de-sac in Cedar Park, and she’s joined some friends to start hosting Front Yard Fridays on her block. Her daughter, Leigh, has stepped out to meet her neighbors, and is now joining one for regular walks.
“I’m one of that bunch of people that knows they should be more welcoming toward their neighbors, and I’m a friendly person, but the constraints on my time and the lists that I have in my head 24-7 inhibits my being friendly,” Leigh said. “I’m in that small-step zone.”
But as the three chatted and listened to BJ’s ideas about putting out fliers for their office neighbors proposing a Friday potluck, it’s obvious those steps will soon bear fruit.
“I think the whole thing for us is reaching out, whether they be business neighbors or where we live,” Garland said. “We’re just really mindful of it.”