Amy Kaherl is Director of the community building project Detroit Soup. I was lucky enough to attend one of their gatherings this summer and was left completely inspired.
I spent a good portion of last summer traveling (more accurately, avoiding the final plunge into the workforce) and I made sure to stop in Detroit. I was curious after all the media surrounding it recently and I wanted to form my own opinions on the city . I was hosted by a friend of a friend who had just moved there to work for Teach For America and she had heard about SOUP through some teacher friends. So we went.
What an amazing, well executed and beautifully simple idea with an immediate impact: bring $5, listen to people pitch their community building projects, eat soup and discuss these projects, vote and the winner receives the money. I left SOUP and Detroit utterly buoyant and inspired. Long after returning home, the experience has stuck with me. I’ve since been in discussions with Paul Quinn College in South Dallas about starting a Soup project here. Any tips on getting it off the ground?
When I mention I was in Detroit recently, people give me a weird look. “Why” they say, or “not much left of that city.”
Why? Because the story of Detroit is the story of America. What’s left? A core of passionate and determined people who are making things happen.
Thank you and I hope to hear from you.
Watch Amy’s Tedx Talk about the project here and stay tuned for a Dallas spin off:
Some photos I took at the event.
RESPONSE from Amy Kaherl:
Thank you for your kind letter. Please excuse my delayed response as I have been traveling and finally getting to sit down with my computer and respond to emails!
I am so glad that you were able to experience SOUP! It really is a lovely evening of people gathering together. It’s not flashy but simple. To hear how you have been inspired by the experience is incredible! I am so happy that you left empowered and had something to share about Detroit that isn’t about the stuff that is negative or about blight. I love SOUP as it is a safe place that gathers people together to find solutions to problems that are ailing us. It’s like a new town hall minus people complaining and adding in the action component!
Thank you for sharing your experience with the: “Why” they say, or “not much left of that city.” When I hear people say that it makes me realize that what is ‘left’ is pure magic and we have the opportunity to turn what was left behind into something energetic, exciting, life breathing, growth giving, and community changing. But that’s just me. Thank you for wanting to see the city with your own eyes and pass judgement through your experience and not just what you heard!
It shares our process and gives access to a lot of the documents we use and how to get it going. We are also available to talk to after downloading the packet to answer any questions you might have. Remember we started with art and so we often approach building it with asking questions as artists and providing a safe space to explore, ask questions, challenge each other, and offer an opportunity to grow as a community.
Thanks for your letter. I hope that you feel like you can reach out once you get started in making your SOUP happen!
amy | Detroit SOUP