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Ferndale Soup Lets Dinner Guests Decide on Project for Microgrant

Inspired by Detroit Soup events, Paper Street President Andy Didorosi brings the program to Ferndale to support promising projects.

Interested in having dinner out for just $5 this weekend?

You’ll get soup, salad, bread and dessert — along with the chance to vote on and support a good cause — if you head over to on Sunday, where the first Ferndale Soup will take place.

Ferndale Soup will be a monthly dinner where guests listen to three people pitch a project idea that will benefit Ferndale or the surrounding area. Attendees vote for their favorite project, and the winner is awarded a microgrant — the total collected based on the $5 per-person admission collected at the door — to give the idea a boost.

“It’s an incredible environment,” said .

Meals are donated by "giving cooks and friendly people," he said. All of the $5 admission goes to the microgrant. "Every cent," Didorosi said.

Soup concept popular in Chicago, Detroit

Didorosi decided to bring the "Soup" event to Ferndale after he attended Detroit Soup events. The concept originated in Chicago, he said.

“It’s a really rare, totally democratic, pure thing,” he said. “Five dollars doesn’t really have much value to anyone,” he said, but with Detroit Soup events often raising up to $700 or $800, “that’s some serious cash that can do big things.”

Though only one project gets the microgrant, Didorosi said the people who don’t win often do just as well.

“They’ll be then hooked up with the community, and their cause will be more visible,” he said, adding that people who attend these events are often innovators and thinkers. “Those are the kind of people you want to know about your projects.”

Volunteer mowing gang to present Sunday

Birmingham resident Tom Nardone, a former Ferndale resident of 15 years, will present the Mower Gang project at Sunday's event.

The Mower Gang is a group of volunteers who show up with lawn mowers and weed-whackers to cut the grass at parks in Detroit that are no longer maintained. Led by “gang leader” Nardone, the group is self-funded and usually uses about 10 gallons of gasoline per park. A microgrant could help pay for gas and supplies.

“We just like to make sure kids have a place to play,” he said.

Nardone said he has attended "Soup" events in Detroit but has never presented a project. He said he enjoys the events because the people are nice, it always supports a great cause and, of course, “the soup is good,” he said.

“I’m happy Andy’s starting a Ferndale one because it’s closer to home,” he said.

Have a great project idea?

Ferndale Soup is still accepting project submissions through Saturday; visit ferndalesoup.com for more information.

This weekend's Ferndale Soup starts at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Paper Street Ferndale, 1511 Jarvis St. It is open to the public, and tickets for the dinner can be purchased at the door. Ferndale Soup will take place the third Sunday of every month, Didorosi said.

Linda Baker January 13, 2012 at 09:51 PM
what a great idea - hope this gets off the ground and prospers! Hope to be able to attend!

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