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  • a collaborative situation

  • a public dinner

  • a platform for connection

  • a safe space

  • a democratic experiment in micro-funding

  • a relational hub bringing together various creative communities

  • a forum for a critical but accessible discussion

  • an opportunity to support creative people in Detroit


I get asked a lot about the beginning of SOUP. It was a bunch of people trying to figure something out. We didn’t plan, think, or be conscious of others around us. The beginning was an experiment... this guide is 5 years of experimentation. This is SO important. The list above is the heart and the soul and the why and the how come and the reason why we continue to do this dinner many years after its origins.



  • social enterprise startup competition

  • tech startup pitch contest

  • artist pitch competition

  • food competition


Basically, what I am trying to say is that we use the tool of democracy as it aids in communal understanding. It is NOT your job to make a value judgment on the likelihood that these projects will take off or not. It is also NOT your job to feel like people will use and abuse the money. Maybe they will buy some food or put some gas in their car. Maybe that IS what they needed to get their idea moving forward. Your job is to create the opportunity to have people share and connect. The community holds them accountable for following up on what happens with the idea.

SOUP is not a TV show. It is not to embarrass, exploit, or profit. It is a community dinner that is built to uplift, empower, and find stories of amazing individuals who are thinking critically about their community/neighborhood/city. The ideas, like the humans that present them, are flawed and imperfect. The ideas, like the people, are in motion and in process.

You are building an environment. Your job is to create the safe space where the projects and ideas can pitch. This built environment is where people (strangers) feel like they can collide in conversation, asking what they will vote for, or what projects they were connecting with and why. In that type of environment, you begin, as the organizers, not to interfere with what is happening in the room.

The journey of SOUP is fun! You can’t do this alone, and although we present it as easy (and it is), don’t get caught up with rules and governing laws. This will break the spirit of the project. The following pages we are for guiding your thoughts through our journey. Make this yours.

So, let’s begin this journey...

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