By Jared Klassen (’11)
“Community” is one of Columbia’s favourite buzz-words. While it can be easy to throw the word around and risk robbing the term of its value, it is a popular word on campus for good reason: community is a chance to support, challenge, spur on, and demonstrate that you care for one another.
I recently started an initiative with a few friends here in Ottawa to show that this city is a caring community. “Soup Ottawa” invites people to share their ideas of how they want to make Ottawa a better place for the people
that live here. We’ve organized quarterly evening events as a platform for people from the community to showcase these ideas.
Everyone is welcome to attend the event to support, encourage, and even fund these initiatives: $10 at the door gets you a chance to interact with the 6 presenters and other creative people while enjoying a tasty bowl of soup (because we all know great ideas are best shared over a meal!). At the end of the evening, everyone votes – with their spoon – on which idea they liked the most. The project with the most votes is awarded 100% of the money collected at the door. Our first event in May had 97 people attend, so $970 was given to a group who wanted to start a street-art project for kids and teenagers in their neighbourhood to take pride in their community and make it beautiful.
The truth is, we’re all looking for a place to belong in one way or another. In an age where you may know more about your neighbours through Facebook and Twitter than face-to-face interactions, many people are trying to find more meaningful ways to get connected with the community that surrounds them. We found Soup Ottawa to be a practical way for people to get involved, show that they care, and directly support ideas that make their community a better place.
A sold out crowd in May 2013 ate Grounded soup at Hub Ottawa and raised $970 for a local charity.
For more information about Soup Ottawa visit soupottawa.ca
Originally from Abbotsford, Jared Klassen graduated in 2011 with a BA in Biblical Studies, Community Development Emphasis and was 2010/11 Student Council President. Jared has worked with several community development agencies including MB Mission and Mennonite Central Committee. He now works with non-profit agencies in Ottawa, Ontario.
Photo curtosey of soupottawa.ca
This piece originally appeared in the Columbia Contact Fall 2013. Sign up for the mailing list or view the most recent issue online.