Our second Maker Faire Detroit is right around the corner, taking place on July 30 and 31 at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. To give you a taste of some of the awesome makers presenting at the Faire, we’re doing a series of interviews, starting today with Amy Kaherl of Detroit SOUP.
1. Tell us about Detroit SOUP: what it is, how it got started, and how you’ll be presenting it at Maker Faire.
SOUP started in February 2010 by Kate Daughdrill and Jessica Hernandez. It is a micro-granting dinner for funding creative projects in Detroit. Community members attend the dinner, paying $5 for soup, salad, bread, pie, and the ability to vote on a creative proposal. These projects have the aim of making the Detroit community stronger.
Detroit SOUP will be presented by Jessica Hernandez and myself, sharing the process of SOUP, hearing stories of who has been funded, and how you can SOUP in your own community!
2. How has SOUP impacted the Detroit community?
We’ve been able to have about 15 dinners throughout the last year and a half, granting anywhere between $100-$800 (depending on the attendance). Many projects tackle both social justice and art, making impacts within different neighborhoods around Detroit. Three other soup dinners have started since the beginning of Detroit SOUP.
Something I love the most about SOUP is the connections people are making, even when the groups don’t win the soup (money) pot. Dinner attendees are offering physical space, financial contributions, access to resources, and to other creative people in the community. We even know a couple who are getting married because of SOUP. It’s the people who gather each month who make the biggest impact and tie together makers, thinkers, and dreamers.
3. How did you hear about Maker Faire and why did you decide to participate?
Friends from OmniCorpsDetroit are also participants in Maker Faire and speak very highly of the event. Detroit SOUP is excited to share with others how to create soup dinners and encourage others to participate or create their own.
4. Tell us about yourself. What is your role in SOUP? How did you get started making things and who are your inspirations?
I have helped with SOUP since the beginning, helping behind the scenes, setting up, facilitating, and problem solving. I have been creative for quite some time, facilitating events, DJing, throwing parties, and being a creative producer. I am inspired by other artists in the community like Kate Daughdrill, Dan Demaggio, Mike Han, Vanessa Miller, Jessica Decker, and Erin Ellis. Other inspirations come from the work of national artists like Mike Mills and Miranda July.
5. Is your project strictly a hobby or a budding business? Does it relate to your day job?
This project is something I volunteer with, but something I see growing into something bigger and hopefully into a job. My day job is managing a mental health and a nutrition grant (separate grants) with Macomb County schools. Living and playing in Detroit has become such a wonderful adventure, and everyone you meet allows the opportunity to challenge you and make you a better artist, creative, and collaborator.
6. What new idea (in or outside of your field) has excited you most recently?
I love projects that really engage in using your imagination. The July SOUP proposal granted a project in Highland Park called “Building a Bridge to the Garbage King.” The objectives are to build a tree house-like structure in a neighborhood with tires, pallets, and discarded materials in the shape of a dragon, and write a children’s book alongside of the project.
7. What is your motto?
Shenanigans, tom-foolery, and all around good times.
8. What advice would you give to the young makers out there just getting started?
It’s exciting to have a project that embraces and empowers others in the community. Take chances, try things out, fail, grow, and don’t expect perfection. I try to make things simple and not try so hard. We are all in this together, so it’s easier to make friends than enemies.
9. What do you love most about Detroit?
I love the freedom, possibilities, and the amazing community of people who challenge you and help you re-imagine how Detroit will change.
NOTE: First and third photos by Vanessa Miller, and second photo by Kate Daughdrill.
Thanks Amy! For all the information you need to attend the Faire, visit the Maker Faire Detroit site.