Natick SOUP Serves Community Grants

Amy Mevorach
Issue Date: 
May, 2018
Article Body: 

Natick SOUP, a new organization based on the successful Detroit SOUP, will offer an opportunity for a local creative project to receive a grant of $2,500. The first event will be Saturday, May 19 from 5 to 8pm at Revolution Martial Fitness, 245 West Central Street. Over soup, salad, and bread, attendees learn about plans for four new or small projects that would benefit the Natick community. The projects presented are chosen in advance from entrees submitted before April 28. They may focus on art, agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurship, education, or technology, but they are not limited to any category. During dinner, community members will discuss and debate the different projects, then each person may vote for one to be funded. The presenter who receives the most votes will be awarded all the money collected at the event.
Sensei Paul Castagno of Revolution Martial Fitness learned about Detroit SOUP four or five years ago. “I thought it was such a cool idea.” After gestating the idea for a few years and moving Revolution Martial Fitness into a new studio on West Central Street, he felt this was the right time to initiate Natick SOUP. “I always wanted Revolution to be not just a martial arts studio but a community gathering space.”
This gathering is open to 100-120 people to connect with each other and enjoy a delicious meal. “People can discuss what’s happening in Natick and have a say in what’s going to happen,” said Castagno. “People have great ideas but may not have the capacity to make them happen. Here is an opportunity. We guarantee a minimum amount, funded through the ticket sales and through donation matching.” It is also a forum to promote ideas, network, and garner support, even if the project does not receive the grant. Winners will be invited to return to a future SOUP dinner to report their project’s progress.
The projects must affect Natick but are not limited to Natick, and presenters do not need to be Natick residents. The presentations will not use technology. “It means that people have to speak passionately about their project. We wanted to have an equal playing ground. Someone may have a great idea that they can’t put into a Powerpoint.”
The intention of the organization is to “empower residents, help create jobs, allow people to establish new relationships and network, promote action and change, foster critical dialogue, instill community pride, and provide a deeper understanding of democracy,” as stated on the Natick SOUP website. The capitalization, according to Castagno, is for emphasis. It is not an acronym.
“We have a number of projects to choose from,” Castagno said. “I’m optimistic that it will be well-received by the community and I’m hoping to do it once a year. If the desire is there, I could see it happening twice a year, in the spring and the fall, and expanding into other communities.” One possibility Castagno has considered is having a Youth SOUP, which could help high school students complete their community service requirements in a creative way.
Tickets go on sale May 1 and a $10 donation is requested. For more information, see