Theology grad talks about re-envisioning Detroit through micro-grants
Fuller alumna Amy Kaherl (MA ’08) recently gave a talk for
TEDxRedding in Redding, California, about Detroit SOUP, a monthly dinner
funding micro-grants for creative projects in Detroit. Kaherl is the
facilitator of Detroit SOUP.
TED is a nonprofit initiative devoted to “ideas worth
spreading,” according to its mission—keeping the global community connected via
“riveting talks delivered by remarkable people” that are broadcast around the
world for free. The TEDxRedding event is one of many offshoots of TED, in which
free licenses are offered so that communities may organize local events
focusing on ideas worth spreading in their own cities.
In her talk, Kaherl described Detroit, Michigan, as a
“post-industrial society” made up of employees instead of entrepreneurs, and a
city now struggling under a 22 percent unemployment rate. However, Kaherl—who
was born in a suburb of Detroit—and others like her also believe that Detroit
is a “magical” city, waiting to be redeemed.
“Detroit SOUP is a hub for finding new and creative projects [that will] help
rebuild and re-envision Detroit,” she explains. Each month, participants in
Detroit SOUP pay five dollars to attend a gathering at which they dine on a
simple meal of soup and salad, as well as be given the opportunity to hear
proposals for different micro-projects. At the end of the evening, votes are
cast, and the chosen project receives close to $1,000 to help with the forward
movement of their idea.
Kaherl, who graduated with her Master of Arts in Theology in
2008, believes her education from Fuller helped equip her
to coordinate Detroit SOUP. “I’ve been able to take what I learned and
implement it in a non-church environment,” she shares, mentioning values such
as community building and resource sharing.
Detroit SOUP has recently received much media attention,
being featured in the New York Times, Dwell, French Glamour, the
Toronto Star, and on NPR.
Click here to watch Kaherl’s TED talk, and here to learn
more about Detroit SOUP.