Fun Fact: SOUP isn’t native or exclusive to Columbus.
The SOUP concept started in Chicago as an unconventional way to collectively fund arts projects. While the original Sunday Soup may now be defunct, another group in Detroit picked up the idea and formed Detroit SOUP. They’ve had tremendous success since their first event — held on Super Bowl Sunday six years ago — and have taken the Detroit model of SOUP, often focused on social justice and community empowerment, further than anyone thought possible. Today, SOUPs across the globe have emulated themselves following the Detroit SOUP model. No matter what we call ourselves or how we run our events, SOUPs are all held together by the core idea of SOUP: building community by bringing people together to fund amazing local projects.
As luck would have it, two of our nearest SOUP neighbors, Toledo and Detroit, were hosting events within two weeks of each other and since we had some free Sundays (due to the lack of an event of our own), we decided to check them out.
Toledo SOUP, like Columbus, is based on the Detroit model. We were excited to be at Toledo’s first themed event after three years of operations, focusing on Social Welfare. While there, we connected with their team and talked about common SOUP trends, challenges, and victories. It’s amazing how similar yet different our events are, and how we were still all on the same page even though we’ve never met. Getting to take part in a SOUP event was a real treat for us. Listening to the presentations, chatting with our table mates about who we were voting for, and actually sitting down to eat soup was magical. We were super proud for the night’s winner, Toledo Streets Newspaper, and all they are doing for the homeless in Toledo.
Two weeks later, we headed to Detroit to check out their Citywide SOUP event which marked their 6th anniversary. We all know Detroit’s unique story, To understand the city better, half of the team went to Detroit for the weekend to explore the city. As we’ve mentioned before, every SOUP is different and tailored to the needs of their city. We feel that our version of SOUP is perfect for Columbus and Detroit’s version is perfect for them. While Detroit has had its hard times, it’s also a city full of hope and beauty. It’s a city on the verge of a renaissance, in part driven by the work of people like those at Detroit SOUP. The projects were all inspiring, emotional, and awesome, just like the city itself. The night’s winner, The Lawn Academy, was an inspiration to us and a reminder of the good that SOUP can do to build strong communities while helping those in need.
Going to Detroit also meant getting to chat with Amy Kaherl, executive director of Detroit SOUP, and their director of operations, Joanna Dueweke. Columbus SOUP got its start three years ago after skyping with Amy a few times to get her advice on executing the Detroit SOUP model in a new city. Catching up after all this time and talking about SOUP’s successes and growth was pretty inspiring. Also inspiring was the home of Detroit SOUP, The Jam Handy, an old film production building converted in to a creative event space. It was awesome to see just how different, yet similar our events actually are.
Seeing Detroit SOUP and Toledo SOUP make a difference in their communities makes us want to be better, do more, and make as much of an impact in our community as we can — together. We’re energized and so excited for Spring SOUP! We’re mixing things up, getting creative, and we can’t wait to see you for Art at the MAC on April 17!