“When we say ‘food apartheid’ the real conversation can begin.” Illustration: Daniel Chang Christensen

SOUPer KC will create intentional community-based initiatives through resource development, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun.

SOUPer KC is a microgranting dinner celebrating creative projects in Kansas City. For $5 participants receive soup, salad and bread, engaged table discussion centered around the night’s theme/topics….and a vote. Attendees will hear four presentations on topics ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice and social entrepreneurship, to education and technology. Each presenter has four minutes to share their idea and then will field four questions from the diners. Everyone eats, connects, shares resources, and votes on what project they think should win. When the night nears to a close SOUPer KC counts the ballots and whoever has the most votes takes home the money from the door.

By hosting community dinners and celebrating creative projects in KC’s urban core, SOUPer KC seeks to center voice and power to creatives of color by developing opportunities in jobs, civic engagement and communal arts, establishing new relationships & networks, promoting civic action & social change, fostering critical dialogue and instilling neighborhood pride. These objectives are all embedded in a structure that provides a deep understanding of the power of community, voice and vote–which organizers Cecilia-Ananya Belser-Patton and Paris Patton call the ‘pillars of democracy’.

Through key partnerships with community leaders and urban core restaurateurs, they will host collaborative events that are safe and brave spaces. SOUPer KC will use these hubs to convene a variety of creative communities, as well as forums for critical, accessible discussions on the intersections of race, class, gender, sexual presentation and other -isms.

Such intentional community centered in food and fellowship is intended combat the food apartheid that KC’s urban core faces, similar to that of the South Central section of Los Angeles and Baltimore, Maryland. The organizers wish to stress the ways in which disinvestment in community is what leads to the need for reinvestment/gentrification efforts. They believe that centering creativity and the democratic process can model and explore what continued investment in communities of color might be, in the hope that reinvestment by the dominant culture won’t be needed to stimulate civic and neighborhood strength.

SOUPer KC will begin in the summer of 2018 with monthly dinners, hosted in different urban core locations, such as the Troost Corridor, Ivanhoe, 18th & Vine, Northeast and Westside communities. The organizers have developed relationships with local organizations who want to partner around community dinners: Uzazi Village, 18th & Vine District, Urban Cafe, Troost Collective and Artists of Color Coalition. The events will be marketed through online access, community fellowship, word of mouth, and traditional media.

Cecilia-Ananya Belser-Patton is the Founder and Culture Curator of Just Systems, a capacity building consulting firm that specializes in Restorative Practices, including Diversity, Inclusion & Equity development, restorative and social justice frameworks and implementation, and curriculum development. She is committed to equity, cultural proficiency, urban education, student, familial & community empowerment, and is active in her community fighting oppression on all fronts. An educator, organizer and professional development facilitator, she is also a professional thespian.

An active member of The Cultural Competency Collective of Kansas City, as well as a member of its’ Leadership Team & Planning Council, Cecilia-Ananya is also a citizen volunteer of SURJ-KC, NAACP, Communities Creating Opportunity & MORE2. She is President of Uzazi Village’s Council of Elders, and is a board member of Mid America Black Archives, The Diversity and Inclusion Chair of Women In Technology and Friends of Art Leadership Council at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

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