Detroit Soup, despite the name, is only partly about eating. The event, where diners pay a $5 entry fee for soup and bread and the chance to hear pitches from community ventures has become a global hit with Soups happening all over the UK and Europe and as far from Detroit as Kathmandu. Nepal.
Diners hear four-minute pitches from creatives pledging to solve local community challenges, who then answer four questions from the audience. After an evening of food and chatting, the group vote on which project they think benefits the city the most. The winner goes home with the money raised to go forth and make their idea a reality.
We join in with their fifth birthday celebrations to see how community spirit – and some soup – is changing the world, one idea at a time.
Sit On It Detroit
Sit On It pitched their idea back in 2013 after deciding to do something about the lack of seating at bus stops.
They created benches out of reclaimed wood from abandoned houses and businesses within the city. There’s a little extra literary detail on top of offering support for aching legs – donated books are stored under benches for people to read while they wait for the bus.
See more here
Fender Bender Detroit
Fender Bender are clear about who they are. Self-described as a ‘women, queer, and trans, centered bicycle workspace rooted in justice principles’, they began in 2012 as a way of staking their claim in the local community.
Working with volunteer squad ‘The Riders and The Homies’, Fender Bender aim to make Detroit a cycle-friendly community through their bike shop offering bike repairs, community meetings and solidarity and support within the local LGBTQ community. Alongside bike maintenance, they put on anything from yoga bike rides, drag bingo and regular full moon bike rides, reclaiming the streets by day, and by moonlight.
See more here
Matrix Theatre Company
For Matrix Theatre Company, acting is about more than lights, stage exits and standing ovations. For them, theatre is ‘an instrument of transformation’.
The local company puts on shows that reflect community issues as a way of making sure that the intimate space is representative of local people.
The company are rallying against the theatre as an exclusive space and back in 2013 they pitched to Detroit Soup for their Teen Company wing. Teen Company is an area that supports high school students (aged 14-18) in Detroit as a way of tackling and de-centering issues like bullying and gang violence.
The students have since performed and written plays dealing with issues ranging from domestic abuse to immigration and toured them across Michigan.
Check them out here
Detroit Little Libraries
Imagine being able to walk down the street, open up a box and be met with a stack of alternative universes. This was the dream of DLM back in 2015 when they pitched their idea to create free-standing mini libraries around the city.
They planted books in areas that had little access to them, targeting parks, bus stops and community centres to quite literally bring books to the street. By using donated books, repurposed wood and newspaper racks, they’ve kept costs to zero, and encouraged Detroit locals to do the same. They even have a little street map where you can pin a spotted little library - or add one that you’ve built yourself.
See more here
Find out more about Detroit Soup here