There really isn’t a better way to spend a Thursday night, then eating good local food in the hands of good company, listening to unique community ideas and all for a great cause at Soup Ottawa. Lowertown Brewery graciously hosted the eighth edition of Soup Ottawa with the theme of the night being “Prototype”. I just recently learned about Soup Ottawa through a good friend and coworker of mine. He suggested that a few of us from the office all go together and see what up and coming in the city, so I happily accepted the invite.
Soup Ottawa has a few main ingredients (get it – ingredients? Ok – I will stop with the puns) to make every event successful:
- a local establishment hosts the event (past hosts have been Art-is-Bakery, The Hub, and Heart and Crown to name a few)
- a local chef or restaurant to provide the soup and bread
- submissions from local groups or initiatives who have submitted their ideas
- attendees who pay their $10 entrance fees
- volunteer organizers to make the event happen
We were all squished together at a mess hall table and lined up for our servings of the delicious butternut squash soup and artisan bread that was made in-house at Lowertown Brewery. Boy it was great and it seemed to also have a tasty pumpkin spice latte flavour to it. Over the course of an hour and a half, 6 groups presented their ideas. The winning team, based on attendee votes, got to take home the cash raised from the $10 entrance fees. These ideas included:
- From Field to Feast
- Housing Hackathon
- Alternative Community Housing
- New Works by the Windows Collective
- Blank Spaces
Two of the groups really peaked my interest which were the From Field to Feast and CleanKits. The common theme amongst all of the groups was that they all had to benefit the community in some way. From Field to Feast were trying to raise money to increase their production for their aquaponics program being run at Sir Guy Carleton Vocational High School. It is a cross departmental initiative that is a self-sustaining model of growing plants and vegetables from the waste of the fish they raise. CleanKits was trying to raise money to be able to supply more products to include in their hygiene kits that are distributed to local women’s shelters, group homes and homeless individuals.
Having good presentation skills and marketability is key at events like this. While all of the ideas all had some great merit, if they were not showcased well enough, then it lost people’s interests and really short changed their odds of winning the funds.
There are microfunding websites available out there like KickStarter and The Awesome Foundation, but there is something special and rewarding seeing live presentations by the people who are directly involved with the initiative. One of my table mates said, “Soup Ottawa is brilliant – combining local chefs, good people and a community initiative. It makes all other meals feel insignificant”. I couldn’t agree more. Since its inception, Soup Ottawa has raised more than $10000 for local groups. They hold the event seasonally (approximately 4 times a year). I will certainly be attending the next one. Make sure to secure your tickets early, as they were sold out days in advance. And if you have a great community initiative idea, consider applying to Soup Ottawa so that it can heard!