From Detroit to London, Athens to Kyoto, SOUP is warming hearts and communities around the world. With its roots in anti-neoliberal capitalism, the SOUP concept is a recipe for community resilience: a grassroots model that, through community meals, funds small-to-medium creative projects that benefit the city as a whole. Following its success in cities around world, in 2015, SOUP finally arrived in Perth – brought and co-founded by Curtin alumnus Alex Frankcombe.
“While visiting Detroit last year, I was invited to attend an event called Detroit SOUP – a monthly dinner for US$5 where four presenters pitch their idea to make the city a better place. The participants vote and the pitch with the greatest amount of votes takes home the money raised on the door,” says Frankcombe. “Returning to Perth, I could see the potential for such an idea through the success of online platforms like Pozible and Kickstarter.”
Inspired by the community-led activism and resiliency he experienced in Detroit, Frankcombe launched Perth SOUP with his partner in business and in life, Keeya-Lee Ayre.
“I wanted to build the capacity of everyday people in Perth to be able to improve their city,” says Frankcombe of the decision to bring the SOUP concept to the most isolated capital in the world. “Helping other passionate individuals or groups achieve positive change is a huge motivation for me personally and professionally.”
When not actively building a network of Perth SOUP supporters, Frankcombe works at a planning consultancy in stakeholder and community engagement. In 2011, he was awarded ‘Outstanding Achievement By A Young Planner’ at the Planning Institute of Australia’s WA Awards For Excellence.
“Social sciences and cities have always fascinated me,” says Frankcombe, who studied a bachelor degree in urban and regional planning at Curtin.
“The degree equipped me with the ability to understand other disciplines and tie them together into something that the public can understand,” he says.
This skill set combined with Frankcombe’s personal values and perspectives made him the ideal co-founder of Perth SOUP. The new Perth chapter has now funded several community projects, including skills-sharing organisation The Homelove Project and urban bee-keeping venture Smokin’ Honey.
Already, Perth SOUP has expanded from its CBD location, with neighbourhood SOUPs now in Victoria Park and Bunbury. And that’s just the beginning. Frankcombe’s vision is for neighbourhood SOUP’s set up across Perth, all contributing to creating resilient and strong communities.
Recently, this vision has been passed on a very committed group of young leaders in the city, the Perth Global Shapers Community, who are taking over the operational aspects of Perth SOUP as Frankcombe and his wife journey abroad to undertake new adventures.
In their absence, Frankcombe is confident that Perth SOUP will live on through the community and the organisation’s passionate board members.
“We leave knowing that big things are on the horizon and that the spirit of SOUP will continue to be nourished by its supporters,” he says.
If you’re community-minded, love soup and have $10 or an idea to share, why not come along to the next Perth SOUP event in December and have a say in your city.
Not in Perth? Find a SOUP event near you.
Name: Alex Frankcombe