By Gina Martinez
Queens community projects were able to network and compete for funding at Queens SOUP Saturday afternoon.
The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce held its second Queens SOUP event at the Flushing Meeting House, located at 137-16 Northern Blvd.
The event, inspired by Detroit SOUP, is a community potluck dinner that provides seed funding and promotion to help launch local projects that positively affect their community.
Queens SOUP attendees gave a $5 donation at the door and were able to have a potluck dinner with food donated from Dosa Hutt, New Asian Food and Danny’s Steakhouse & Oyster Bar.
Attendees ate, mingled and ultimately decided which of the four projects up for voting they felt had the most positive impact on the community. After a presentation from each project, ballots were counted and all the money collected at the door was awarded.
John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, said Queens SOUP is a unique networking event. He said regardless of whether a project wins or not, owners and their associates can connect with potential community partners and volunteers, raising their profile. He hopes the event will be an annual undertaking, depending on the amount of support from the community.
“We modeled this event after Detroit SOUP,” he said. “After the government became bankrupt, different people came together and said let’s not wait for government to solve our problems, let’s get together and come up with our own ideas and fund those ideas,” The city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July 2013.”
“So they developed these potluck dinners where they invited people to donate some money and share with their neighbors and listen to organizations’ innovative and creative ways to help community. We were inspired by that.”
The Flushing projects can focus on arts and culture, civil rights, small business assistance, children’s programing, neighborhood beautification, environmental remediation, and more. The community programs were able to apply online from February to March.
Summer Tinker Lab: Latimer House + Child Center ended up the winner with the most votes, earning $950 in funding. The program seeks to expand free access for low-income children to its two-week Tinker Lab class this August. Tinker Lab is an innovative hands-on STEM learning project focused on educating local youth about technology and the arts as well as teaching children how to code.
The other contenders were Flushing CSA’s Community Cook-Off and Food Festival, a public food festival highlighting the benefits of local organic produce; Plaza Plays, a six-month residency that connects playwrights to central public spaces within Queens’ neighborhoods; and Open the Door, a program that gives out disposable cameras to a diverse sampling of 50 Queens residents, to capture images of their own daily life.
Attendee and Flushing resident Jacqueline Colson was happy to be a part of the event.
“It’s so great,” she said. “It’s a good fund-raiser, and an opportunity to get together with people in the community and see what great projects are going on. I’m glad to be a part of it.”