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Our Experience

What better way to inspire the spirit of giving back and support our local community than to attend an event embodying that very vision? This past weekend, Trademark Productions team members Ashley Remstad and Sarah Goodlaxson attended a monthly dinner held by Detroit SOUP. With the Trademark initiative “TM Cares” fresh in our minds, it was an event that couldn’t be missed.

Detroit SOUP is a $5 donation dinner served potluck style that acts as a platform for connection, collaboration, inspiration and discussion to support creative initiatives in Detroit. The dinner is a modest combination of soup (surprised?), salad and bread. With your donation, you receive the opportunity to hear from four presenters on their original ideas, ranging from urban agriculture, art, social justice, education and more. During the event, attendees converse, share resources and vote on the project they believe will most benefit the city of Detroit. To date, these events have raised over $83,000 of funds to directly finance community projects. Past SOUP winners have started nonprofits, local businesses, after school programs and park cleanups.

Who Were The Presenters?

Detroit Little Libraries

Detroit Little Libraries kicked off the night’s presentations. Little free libraries are built and planted throughout Detroit in an effort to promote reading and community. Individuals are welcome to take a free book from the library, read it and ideally replace it with a book of their own. Over 30 Little Free Libraries have already been planted around Detroit in front of homes, nonprofit organizations, faith-based institutions, small businesses and parks. Future plans include planting additional Detroit Little Libraries and including a selection of children’s books focusing on diversity.

Spiritual House Outreach

Founder James Jackson presented the vision to create a community outreach program teaching Detroit’s less fortunate the essentials of every day life. James himself went through Detroit’s public school system without learning to read or write until the age of 21. Through his own intimate understanding of Detroit hardship, he views The Spiritual House Outreach as an opportunity for personal transformation and a place for support and education. The Spiritual House Outreach hopes to provide a fitness room, computer lab, study hall area, barber shop and kitchen. Educational programs will address a myriad of needs including: nutritional guidance, reading, speaking, writing and computer skills. James also hopes to provide counseling to those in need.

Bike Detroit Log Cabin Farm

Having already restored 100km of Detroit bike paths, connecting over 40 parks, Bike Detroit is taking their efforts a step further. Located in Detroit’s Palmer Park (one of the first parks to receive a Little Free Library, consequently) a self-sustaining Log Cabin Farm hopes to generate revenue to fund additional park improvements from water entrapment issues to infrastructure. In order to complete the project, hurdles must be overcome, including: manpower, machinery, completing a compost-processing center and cultivating seeds. All Detroit residents are invited to take a ride through Palmer Park to see its beauty and positive transformation.

The Tricycle Collective

A round of applause is due for the night’s winner and final presenter: The Tricycle Collective. Founder Michele Oberholtzer works to help Detroit residents save their homes from foreclosure. In 2014, 10,000 still-occupied foreclosed homes went to auction with many residents facing eviction. The vacant homes themselves suffered vandalism, adding to the decay of Detroit neighborhoods. The Tricycle Collective’s 2015 goals include helping an additional 10 families buy back their homes. (Individuals whose foreclosed homes weren’t sold in auctions have the option to appeal in an effort to repurchase from the Detroit Land Bank.) Michele also looks to empower uneducated residents with actionable information to prevent foreclosure. By attending community gatherings and posting flyers in selected neighborhoods, she hopes to connect affected Detroit residents with the information they so desperately need.

The “Most Inspirational Award” Goes To…

Driving conditions were terrible; the weather was the worst it has been all winter, yet the Jam Handy building was packed with a crowd full of supporters. There was a specific sense of togetherness and an upbeat, positive energy that was impossible to ignore. To me, that was the most inspirational part of the entire event. –Ashley Remstad

It was an eclectic, supportive crowd. An energetic three-year-old dressed in pink pants and pink cowgirl boots ran around the main room screaming in delight early on. I sat next to a middle-school choir teacher from Tecumseh, Michigan. Behind me, a row of elderly ladies, one who even expressed the severity of her arthritis when inquiring about the accommodations available to people her age at Palmer Park.  We met a representative from Yoganic Flow, which offers free yoga in Detroit on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Seed Detroit brought food and spoke for a brief moment and a young man promoted UNMASK DETROIT– an event bringing together Detroit’s young professionals.

The presenters themselves were amazing, indeed. But the “Most Inspirational Award” goes to every person in attendance. A strong sense of community was felt by all, blanketed by the pride of being a Detroit (or Metro Detroit) resident. Each attendee is an active participant in the revitalization of Detroit; how many others can truly say the same?

Pictured (left) Ashley Remstad and Sarah Goodlaxson (right)

To attend the next Detroit Soup, visit:

Sources: Photo courtesy of Detroit Design Festival


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