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wheel media Blog Detroit Edition Detroit Edition

Detroit SOUP Transforms Communities into Thought Leaders

Detroit SOUP is many things: “a public dinner, a collaborative situation, a platform for connection…”

The microgranting dinner is pretty straightforward. For $5, you get soup, salad, bread, and a vote. As you eat a delicious meal, you listen to 4 program proposals, each of which benefits the community in a unique way. At the end, you vote on your favorite project. The one that receives the most vote receives funding to get their project off the ground. In effect, SOUP is a thought leader, enabling collaborative change.

We chatted with director Amy Kaherl to learn more about how SOUP unifies creative innovators and thinkers throughout Detroit.

What drew you to SOUP’s mission?

I studied theology and was really interested in how you create alternative, safe environments for conversation and dialogue.

How does SOUP contribute to your city?

We are finding people who want to make it better. It’s an offline way of crowdfunding.. It’s a way to get to meet people. We put stuff online after the dinner as a way to connect. We offer a way to find out ideas that are making the city better.

So the projects integrate an artistic element and a communally-beneficial aspect. Have you been inspired about the different projects people propose?

People are sharing ideas and projects that are very thoughtful, inspiring and diverse. I think that people know what we can do to connect and make it work.

What were a few of the most innovative projects?

We’ve had over 250 ideas submitted and over 45 winners. The Empowerment Plan (Sleeping Bag Coats Made By and For the Homeless) is really innovative, but the way the project leader is going about implementing it is really effective. RebelNow is hiring women from shelters to create jewelry from graffiti that has come off the walls.

What makes SOUP stand out?

SOUP is diverse: racially diverse, and culturally diverse. I challenge people to have a conversation, and i think that people really crave that. You can get into a really deep conversation about what the city needs, and when you offer people the opportunity to have a thoughtful conversation, it makes you feel like you’re all together on this one.

It’s simple – we don’t clutter it with a lot of stuff, we just allow ideas to be ideas.

Thanks for the great conversation, Amy! Detroit friends, why not head to the next SOUP dinner to enjoy thoughtful conversation and great ideas?

Image Credit: [Flickr / Ross]

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