Birmingham Soup

“What you’ve not been volunteering at a Soup Kitchen this evening?”….

Was my flat mates response after me and my friend Sam came back from an evening out at Birmingham Soup last thursday.

In fact it was us eating the soup, as a part of a community pot luck dinner. Birmingham Soup surprisingly to some is not a soup kitchen, but a community business project based on the successful Detroit Soup model.

“Detroit SOUP is a microgranting dinner celebrating and supporting creative projects in Detroit. For a donation $5 attendees receive soup, salad, bread and a vote and hear from four presentations ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and more. Each presenter has four minutes to share their idea and answer four questions from the audience. At the event, attendees eat, talk, share resources, enjoy art and vote on the project they think benefits the city the most. At the end of the night, we count the ballots and the winner goes home with all of the money raised to carry out their project. Winners come back to a future SOUP dinner to report their project’s progress.”

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Birmingham soup is much the same, I heard about it from my Dad who thought as a business student and someone who wants to work in development, I’d like to get involved. I’ve been trying to attend ever since I started University and finally last week I was able to go along with a friend who I dragged along.

The impact hub in Birmingham is the perfect building to host this event. Its quirky interior and open office space really fostered the innovative nature of the night. The night is meant to promote community collaboration, encourage greater connection between people in the city and push action and change through many different formats and outlets.

It definitely lived up to my expectations, everyone there were from hugely different walks of life and areas of Birmingham, many had been locals for years and some are new residents like myself and Sam. But we all were able to discuss 4 great projects and discuss these ideas that are all contributing to the life of the city in their own way. And then after the pitches we all enjoyed soup and bread round tables whilst we conducted a vote.

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This night certainly lived up to my expectations, it was uplifting to hear about little pockets of creativity in the city, and see the good people are doing in all sorts of different ways.

It’s not a new rant today that the news is mostly filled with depressing negativity that make you confront the bad in the world, but it was refreshing to spend the evening being shown and celebrating the good people are doing. Good that would never have been brought to my attention, perhaps widely overlooked. None of the projects were big or grand, just normal people trying to improve their communities with a variety of projects the best way they each knew how. Sam remarked how it was nice to escape the student bubble, and that added to the enjoyment. Its easy to get sucked into Uni life, we spend our whole lives around students it was good to get out of campus and meet people and discuss their projects and involvement in them.

It also deepened my affection toward my new home. The news would have Birmingham portrayed as a crime filled city, but the other night it was purely about community, and it made me proud to see how many people are invested and excited to improve where they live in little and big ways. I love that I live in a city that houses these little pockets of good, and that proactively celebrates and supports those creating them.

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