Over Bowls Of Soup, Donors Find Recipe For Change: Transcript

Thursday, February 09, 2012


Now to a burgeoning soup movement here in the U.S. It's based on a simple recipe. Bring a bunch of people together to eat soup. Ask each person for a modest donation, say $5. Listen to a few proposals about how people might use that money for a good cause. And then, finally, vote on the best proposal and give all the money to the winner.

These soup groups have bubble up around the country. In Philadelphia, an organization called PhilaSoup concentrates on education.

NPR's Linton Weeks takes us there for a bowl of tomato bisque.

LINTON WEEKS, BYLINE: On a recent Sunday night, about 45 members of the local education community gather at the University Barge Club boathouse on the banks of the Schuylkill River.



WEEKS: PhilaSoup was founded by two sisters, Nikka and Claire Landau, with the help of their friend Jason Tucker.

NIKKA LANDAU: Welcome everyone. Thanks for coming to soup tonight. I'm Nikka.

CLAIRE LANDAU: And I'm Claire. We want to try and do a little roll call. If you are here from a charter school.

CROWD: Here.

LANDAU: If you're here from a public school.

CROWD: Here.

WEEKS: Outside it is icy cold. Inside, the room is warmed by a gas fire and conversation. On the wall, a huge moose head, its antlers hung with Christmas lights.

LANDAU: We're hoping that PhilaSoup will be a monthly micro grant dinner that starts and ends with teachers, but is an access point to education for the whole city.

WEEKS: On the menu, four soups, all donated: lentil, tomato bisque, beef barley and ginger carrot. As people slurp their last spoonfuls, Claire Landau goes over the rules.

LANDAU: The way it's going to work is that we'll have three presenters from three different schools who are doing great projects that they would like you to fund tonight with our micro grant. They're going to have three minutes to present. And then, after the three minutes...

WEEKS: And then, as dessert is served, everyone will vote on the best proposal. To the winner will go about 225 bucks.

LANDAU: So, let's see. Who would like to go first?


WEEKS: Lacey Boland, a 7th grade English teacher, steps to the front. She talks pretty fast.

LACEY BOLAND: OK. So I'm going to start with a reading. This is a story from "Snow What: Snow White the Remix."

WEEKS: Lacey's students have written new versions of the old fairy tale and turned them into books.

BOLAND: (Reading) There's something wrong with her, the doctor sighed. The mother was in a daze. She let out a small mix between a scream and a gasp every time the...

WEEKS: A professional writer came in to help. Lacey wants some money to do it again.

BOLAND: It's impossible to underestimate the power that just him being in the room and working one on one with them and in a large group. And so I'm hoping to get funding to bring him in for at least one visit back to our classroom.


WEEKS: Next is Brian Kerner, an art teacher at Prep Charter High School.

BRIAN KERNER: I came up with an idea for a metals project because, well, metals are cool. So...

WEEKS: Brian wants to buy art supplies so his students can make medieval shields that reflect meaningful parts of their lives. He's teaching them about symbolism in art.

The last presenter is Alyssa Boyle, the energetic principal at Camelot Excel North Academy. Her students wear uniforms. And Alyssa wants to reward those who have good attendance records by giving them black vests.

ALYSSA BOYLE: Any way to make their uniform a little more snazzy is always welcome. And then that will just sort of send a message out to the rest of the school that you can become eligible for these vests. And you can be proud of what you've accomplished. So that's why I'm here tonight. Thank you.


WEEKS: After the three proposals, a plate of cookies is passed around. Jason hands out small stones and tells everyone to vote for the project they like the best by putting their stone into milk jugs. There's a jug for each proposal.


WEEKS: Once the crowd has voted and left and the soup is put away, Jason and the Landau sisters do the tally.

LANDAU: Woo, they're getting stuck.

LANDAU: Oh, I think we have...

LANDAU: We have a winner.


WEEKS: And the winner is: Lacey Boland. "Fairy Tale Remixed."

Linton Weeks, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.


More in: