Four years ago, Kristin Schell ordered two picnic tables for a party. She was a reliable hostess in her Austin community, a thrower of book clubs, barbecues, and neighborhood Bible studies. Schell had read Romans 12:13—“Take every opportunity to open your life and home to others” (The Voice)—and took Paul’s words seriously. But all the planning and prepping was driving the mother of four crazy, and entertaining never seemed to yield the depth of community she craved. Surely, “every opportunity” didn’t mean always. So what did the verse mean?

When the Lowe’s delivery men arrived with the tables, they dropped one in Schell’s front yard. Before she had a chance to redirect them, Schell had an unorthodox thought: What if she left the table there, right next to the street, and made a point to show up? With a splash of paint—specifically, Sherwin-Williams Nifty Turquoise—Schell christened her creation. As she sat outside every morning praying, she began to meet people she had lived next to for years. “I started learning the difference between entertaining and hospitality,” Schell says. “Entertainment… you can’t do all the time, you can’t do that at every opportunity. Hospitality is a way of life. It’s not what we’re doing; it’s who we are.”

Since Schell started her experiment in front yard living in 2013, thousands of Turquoise Tables have sprouted up across the country, serving as an invitation to slow down and connect simply. This month, as she celebrates the release of her book, The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard, we asked Schell about why hospitality matters ...

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