Central Communities SOUP Winner – March 2014

Jeffery Jones is beaming at me. Positively beaming. It is rare that I see such a look of immediate and utter inclusion proffered towards anyone and he has shone it directly at me. In fairness, this look seems to be an extension of his enthusiasm that lights up the corners of this region that he feels so strongly about.

  Sitting down to an interview with Mr. Jones I felt a bit under-prepared. All I knew about his Detroit SOUP winning project Bounce Back Detroit was that it is a citywide four square tournament. You know, four square! Maybe not everyone is familiar with the game but for me it was a mainstay in my grade-school playground antics. It’s just simple addictive fun.

The genesis of Mr. Jones’ grand idea to organize a citywide foursquare tourney started out simply enough. You can see footage of Jeff and his family playing four square (very enthusiastically) on Kaboom.org where they tied with several other families for the nations “Most Playful Family.” “We’re old school,” said Jeff, “We would get out on the street and we would play four square! [People would ask] ‘What’s this game your playing?’  It’s four square! It’s easy! You just need chalk and a ball! That led into the idea of, ‘Lets see if we can get funding to do foursquare tournaments!”

This is where Central Communities SOUP came in. Not all that familiar with the Detroit Soup concept Mr. Jones came in with his pitch. “I came with my Power Point presentation and projector and the young woman was like ‘No, you don’t do any of that.’ That experience showed how real SOUP was in the Detroit context.”

Mr. Jones was brimming over with positivity when rhapsodizing about SOUP. He loves that, unlike so many other venues where the entrepreneur or activist gives an elevator pitch of some sort, the SOUP is oriented around people who might not otherwise have the spotlight.  “…Ya know, lets strip away all the obstacles and barriers that we historically put up for people [in organizing or entrepreneurship].” At SOUP the most important thing isn’t the thoroughness of their business plan but rather the depth of their passion. SOUP is about this wonderful city around us.

So, then it makes sense that with Mr. Jones’ decades long career in pursuit of helping Detroiter’s build their communities he found a natural ally with SOUP. You see, SOUP didn’t just allow him, his wife Doretha and kids to bring four square tourneys throughout the city, but to bring people in the city together. “People for so long have not been able to translate their passions into on the ground results in the neighborhood… SOUP is a great bridge for that!” He exclaimed.

Central Comunities SOUP has allowed Detroiters like Mr. Jeffery Jones and his family access to a lo-fi venue for them to own their passions. “That’s the thing about Detroit”, Mr. Jones said, “If the people don’t have a sense of ownership it won’t work.”

Catch up with Bounce Back Detroit on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/bounceback.detroit

– Dan Jones