Detroit SOUP was founded in the Mexicantown neighborhood of Detroit in February 2010 by Kate Daughdrill and Jessica Hernandez. The idea was taken from InCUBATE (a research group dedicated to exploring new approaches to arts administration and arts funding) who started the idea in neighborhood in Chicago. Now run by Amy Kaherl, SOUP just celebrated it’s 3 Year Anniversary!
a collaborative situation
a public dinner
a platform for connection
a theatrical environment
a democratic experiment in micro-funding
a relational hub bringing together various creative communities
a forum for critical but accessible discussion
an opportunity to support creative people in Detroit
At our first dinner proposals where not shared. A small group of people (no more than 40) gathered together for a meal and began to envision the idea of SOUP in a loft above the Mexicantown Bakery. By April we had our first winner (a Rust Belt Architecture photo book) and started getting traction, proposals, and community members to gather, interact, share not only a meal but who they are as people (passions, gifts, ideas, visions for the city, resources, values, etc.) at the dinner.
In year two we slowed down a bit, meeting every other month and realizing the project was making a large impact on the people, projects, and passions of Detroiters. We moved into the Corktown neighborhood and ran the dinner out of a warehouse. We choose this location because of the raw nature of the space. Raw spaces allow for raw ideas to find a home!
In just three short years we have grown! We average about 225 people at each dinner and have found a permanent home in the Jam Handy Building on E. Grand Blvd, just north of Midtown. The project has moved from funding artists to a wide variety of community members that need a little money to start their projects. The building has a rich history in the city. The Jam Handy Organization was started in 1932, locating it on East Grand Boulevard in order to be near his biggest client, General Motors and its 80 affiliated companies. Over the subsequent decades, Jam Handy (an interesting gentleman on his own accord) went on to produce over 25,000 instructional films on seemingly every conceivable subject, including more than 7,000 training films for the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. If you’re curious about what these films looked like (and you should be!) check out his archive.
While the Jam Handy Organization has long ceased to exist and its once sprawling network of buildings lining East Grand Boulevard has mostly disappeared from the landscape, its legacy lives on. Behind the scenes and around the world, numerous technical advancements that continue to shape the contemporary film industry owe their existence to the Jam Handy Organization. And now, here in Detroit, with the ongoing revival of the JH’s former headquarters and main film stage, another scene–and a whole different kind of Jam Handy production–is taking place.
We have witnessed Detroiters give back to Detroiters over $25,000 to get their ideas to the next level. Five of these groups are forming their own non-profits, and one has began a Michigan LC3 business. Parks have been cleaned, art has been created, collaborations have formed, and justice has been moved one step farther. Beyond the financial impact we have watched the invaluable resource of connecting. We are a witness and participant in human interaction. Sharing values and hope for the future of the city. We have witnessed a couple meeting and getting married, people have formed new relationships and partnerships, creative collaboration is happening after meeting at SOUP, new opportunities are forming, and people have a place to share passions and dreams in a safe space.
Detroit is changing. Slowly. And that’s important. We cannot afford to rush to change things. We need to be deliberate, and passionate, and kind. Detroit needs to consider our past while rising up a new generation of changemakers. We can not do it alone and we need one another. SOUP offers this opportunity. We hope that you can help be a part of this community dialogue and share your voice at SOUP.
SOUP has been a recipient of a large grant from the Knight Foundation to move the idea into neighborhoods around the city. We are slowly building partnerships around the city to build this idea into the fabric of the city. Hubbard Farms and Highland Park is starting a dinner and we hope to see the idea spread through the 138 square miles of Detroit! If you would like to connect with us on our journey please connect with firstname.lastname@example.org