I recently had the opportunity to participate in a DC Soup meet up. I read about DC Soup in a Washington Post article in April. The idea is to bring local educators together with community members and supporters of teachers for an evening of sharing and funding. The admission price is $10 plus either soup, wine or bread. The organizers are local teachers and supporters. They arrive at the host’s home with bowls, spoons, glasses, name tags and all the necessary equipment and information. Four teachers present on an upcoming project, take questions after their 3 minute presentation and while everyone goes off for a second bowl of soup, the voting happens. In the end, one teacher comes away with the “grant” which was a little over $300 on the evening I attended. Before the presentations, one of the organizers shared the history of DC Soup. The ides stemmed in Philadelphia. Initially designed for artists to share and fund work, local teachers said why couldn’t this work for teachers? She also shared that after each meeting, while one of the 4 teachers walks away with the cash, every other teacher who presented gained something towards their project thus fulfilling wishes for everyone who shares their projects.
The meeting I attended was the last of the school year. Teachers presented how they would use the “grant” to help fund summer professional development. The teacher who received the most votes teaches in a DC high school. She is a PE teacher and uses her time with her students to teach yoga and mindfulness. She will be using her grant money to fund a week seminar in upstate New York.
The combination of a home as the location for the a meeting, partnered with the comfort of soup and mixed in with sharing hopes and dreams that will enrich classrooms has success written all over it. Some of the participants are return customers- looking to connect, to support and to share with like minded people. Some are newbies welcomed with a warm smile and a glass of something chilled and delicious. It takes courage to stand in front of a group of strangers and share your passion- kids and learning. These teachers and community members are working together and their work changes classrooms and kids’ experiences.
As a teacher, there were times when I felt it was us, the educators, vs them- everyone else. DC Soup helps to break down the barriers- to allow teachers the opportunity to share their visions and allow community members the opportunity to give back in the form of $10. I asked what the magic number is of participants and she said she would love to see 50 next time- We just have to get the word out.
As I left, I wondered how and if this could work in the communities in which I work. These are public school teachers reaching out to community members, could this work in the private school system? What questions would arise should an event like this pop up in your community? Do our parents and community members want another solicitation? Does it make a difference if it is the teachers sharing a wish and not a lay leader making an ask?
I am looking forward to the fall when it starts up again- Inspirations and support coupled yummy soup is something I have a hard time passing up- If you are in the DC area, I would love to go with you!