Twelve hours bumper to bumper that crawled like a dazed snake, I crept out of New Orleans to Lafayette. I rode it safe from Katrina.

I’ve settled here never much looking back, all ready for peaceful obscurity in a decent city.

I’ve enjoyed over 5,000 morning breakfasts since then, many at T Coon’s Diner. I was not long before a discovered a table of men and women, regulars there for coffee.

They include engineers, lawyers, fishermen, builders, doctors, priests, businesspeople, professors, all civic-minded, experienced and well-traveled, highly respected in their fields. And all weathered with wisdom. I discovered them at this table here. No doubt others exist elsewhere.

They gather good-spirited and in friendship. The table like a magnet draws people over who offer friendly, brief hellos and thanks to its sitting members for all they do. At more than a casual glance or event sitting with them for a while, one would not know what they are actually doing there. It’s more than passing a good time, debating, philosophizing or contemplating solving the world’s problems.

Those at this table demonstrate something much more precious and valuable in their gatherings. They care about this city and this state. They care about the citizens living in it: The poor who are hungry, those who have flooded out, failing school systems, dredging and drainage problems, identifying money wasted on self-serving building projects, keeping our drinking water clear from poisonous chemicals — which they have actually done.

They collect data systematically on their own time at their own expense. They compile and share it with government institutions, like the Army Corps of Engineers, chamber of commerce and city and parish councils.

They recommend specific solutions not readily apparent to the so-called experts. None at the table seek to enrich one another or themselves. They plan. They assign one another specific tasks. They act.

There are special people out there and everywhere improving life in community. A few from ours: Karen Haile, Jeimiah Supple, Harold Schoeffler, Dave Dixon, John Blanchard, Bob Hammack and many others. Amen.

A.J. STAHL

furniture designer

Lafayette