Next time you see someone on your social media claim that St. Cloud is going to pot, that all the “good” people are fleeing the area, or that we are turning into a town full of criminals, feel free to share the St. Cloud Soup Facebook page with them.  What is St. Cloud SOUP?

“St. Cloud SOUP is a new organization with the goal of giving out ‘microgrants’ to local community projects.

At a SOUP event, community members gather for a potluck dinner and are asked for $5 at the door. Before dinner, several presenters who have a project idea to improve the community give a quick speech to the gathering. The only requirements for a project is that it needs to improve the community and it has to be in the St. Cloud metro area.

When presentations are finished, everyone eats and then votes for the proposal they like best. The money collected at the door goes to the winning presenter.” – Dan DeBaun, WJON

This isn’t an new organization in town or something put on by a big non-profit in the area. This is put on by neighbors, for projects that are meaningful to the St. Cloud area. Neighbors helping neighbors.

Soups were originally started by artists in Chicago to fund one artist’s project. Detroit took this model and used it to fund neighborhood projects. The organizer of our St. Cloud Soup events, Sam Court, is a local educator who heard about this idea from some relatives in Wisconsin. He shared this idea with some neighbors over wine on his front porch. (Knowing your neighbors really can lead to positive change!) They are excited to host 3 or 4 of these Soups per year in St. Cloud.

The winner of our first St. Cloud Soup was the Pet Shelter at Anna Marie’s Alliance, a shelter for battered women and their children. Sandy Nadeau, Director of Development and Communication for Anna Marie’s, explained that this money would be used for veterinary care for the pets that come to the shelter with the families feeling domestic violence.

“We want a community that is free of violence”, explained Sandy. “We are the only pet safe home in Minnesota. Some women will not leave their abusers if they can not bring their pets.”

So, on a hot summer evening in August, about 40 people gathered at Lake George for no other reason but to hear what is going on in their community and support something with their time and money that is going to make their area better. There’s only one thing that can be said about that: #stcloudproud.