Saturday, September 19, 2015

Duluth Soup -- Creative Fundraising Helps Address Community Needs

This week I got invited to Duluth Soup, a fundraising event that took place at Clyde Iron Works this past Thursday evening. I didn't really know much about it except that five dollars would get me a bowl of soup and a salad, and a vote. The soups were being provided by the New Scenic Cafe & The Amazing Grace, so how could you go wrong. There were also salads and other delights presented by Pizza Luce, 3rd Street Bakery, Lake Superior Bakehouse and the Rambler Foodtruck. I just didn't know what the vote part was about.

A relatively long line was being patiently processed when I arrive close to the six o'clock starting time. I paid my five spot and was handed a ballot. Upon entering I saw the entire room filled with tables and chairs, a small stage set up below the big screen. Inside the door there was a table with flyers about the program along with miniature handbills describing the various groups that would be presenting, four in all. On the perimeter of the room tables had been set up for artist displays along with presentations by these same four groups.

Lake Superior Flow Art
As it turns out, Duluth Soup is modeled after a Detroit Soup fundraising system, of the people, by the people and for the people. Essentially, before we ate the four teams presented their proposals. Using the ballots that had been distributed as we entered, we cast our votes on a ranked ballot system, 1, 2, 3, 4.

What's cool is that you got to engage the various presenters both before and after. Thus the event not only raised money for these various philanthropic efforts, it also raised awareness for the same.

Proposal 1 was titled Let It Grow. The presentation by the Junior League of Duluth was quite excellent, and I wondered if the best idea would win or the best presenters. They explained that they were raising money for a deep-winter greenhouse to be built on an underutilized lot near Denfeld High School adjacent to a food-damaged lot upon which a community garden nd edible forest would grow. The floor was open for questions after the timed presentation and the presenters indeed fielded many questions.

Proposal 2 had the clever title Hart and Soul. They desired to promote an annual music festival in Lake Nebagamon in memory of Alex Hart, who took his own life. It's aim was suicide awareness.

Proposal 3 was a very cool outline of the Tragic Tale of the Timber Beast by Lincoln Park Haunted Happenings. For Halloween they are transforming the Harrison Community Center into an abandoned north woods logging camp to bring families a ghost story that deals with the issue of bullying. This proposal looked interesting as a written paragraph, but was brought to life in a very intriguing manner by the presenters. I thought, "Well, that's pretty neat."

Proposal 4 featured Lake Superior Flow Art, a collaboration of individuals whose mission is to give back to the Twin Ports by fundraising, teaching and performing. They shared how they craft and sell hula hoops and other items to raise money for the Duluth homeless.

After the presentations, everyone lined up for soup.

During the course of the evening there was musical accompaniment by Keir of Lay Low & Bender, Chase Down Blue & the Clover Street Cronies. After the meal there would be a presentation by last year's winner as well as Fair Vote MN, a group advocating a ranked choice voting system for Minnesota with the aim of raising awareness about voting systems.

Thank you to Clyde Iron for hosting this event and to all the volunteers who made it happen.

Next time you hear, "Soup's on!" check it out.

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