How It Works
Our Mission: A Community Center for Lambertville
"The mission of Soupçon Salon is to provide a space that unites people to build a more beautiful and equitable world. We connect people through art, music and creative expression, health and wellness, community organizations, social connections, mutual aid, and education."
Our mission statement is a fancy way of saying that we are focused on supporting each other and building relationships by sharing our space, our resources, our effort to help each other realize our visions and live our dreams. Building trusted relationships strengthens our collective ability to create positive change in our backyards and in our community. The Soupçon Salon Firehouse is our Community Center and where these relationships are built.
Why are we doing this?
"The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible."
-- Toni Cade Bambara
We are approaching Soupçon Salon as an antidote to the dominant paradigm, in which people are pitted against each other in competition. We believe that our liberation is rooted in a community where all people are valued equally. So instead of upholding a hierarchical model of operation, this collective is a collaborative and egalitarian experiment that you are invited to join. There are some core concepts and guiding values at the foundation of this project, some taken directly from adrienne marie brown’s Emergent Strategy.
- Capitalism has failed us.
- Liberation is rooted in community care.
- Making art is a pathway to fulfillment and freedom.
- Small is good, small is all. (The large is a reflection of the small.)
- Change is constant, be like water.
- There is always enough time for the right work. There is a conversation in the room that only these people at this moment can have. Find it.
- Never a failure, always a lesson.
- Trust the people. If you trust people, they become trustworthy.
- Move at the speed of trust.
- Critical connections over critical mass -- build the resilience by building the relationships.
- Less prep, more presence.
- What you pay attention to grows.
We are all tired of Capitalism. The pandemic has amplified its failings, and has more clearly revealed its related structures of inequity and colonial artifacts. But what is the best, fairest alternative? We will find out. Soupçon allows us to experiment with alternative ways of living and interacting. This is a social experiment that aims to prove that more compassionate societies are not only possible, but can thrive. This is not to say that we will get everything right, and we will most certainly need to adjust the dials along the way, but we are focused on solutions and results that unite people, not hollow theories and "-isms" that divide people.
We value collaboration, accountability, diversity, and joy. We work to uplift and center the most vulnerable among us. Consistent government failings and pandemic-imposed isolation have exacerbated the divisions among us. We want to see this end. There is no savior that will swoop in and make things better. We have only ourselves and we embark on this journey out of love for our families, our friends, and our community. We hope we will learn how to work together better, with more harmony.
Luckily, we do have some promising guides as we set out to create a better society. In 2020, Dean Spade published a book on practical organizing called Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (And The Next). Spade defines "mutual aid" as collective coordination to meet each other's needs, usually from an awareness that the systems we have in place are not going to meet them. We see examples of mutual aid in every single social movement, whether it's raising money for workers on strike, putting drinking water in the desert for migrants crossing the border, or coordinating letter-writing to prisoners. These are mutual aid projects. They directly meet people's survival needs, and are based on a shared understanding that the conditions in which we are made to live are unjust.
Today, many of us live in the most atomized societies in human history, which makes our lives less secure and undermines our ability to organize together to change unjust conditions on a larger scale. We are put into competition with each other for survival, and we are forced to rely on hostile systems for the things we need. In this context, mutual aid -- where we choose to help each other out, share things, and put time and resources into caring for the most vulnerable -- is a radical act. It's how we build solidarity and enable real positive change to take root and grow.
Why a Non-profit?
Soupçon Salon is a Nonprofit Corporation that falls under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). Many people instinctively pit mutual aid networks and nonprofits against each other, but we don't believe that every nonprofit is part of the "nonprofit industrial complex." Instead, we believe that there is a place for self-aware nonprofits to provide needed support to mutual aid groups and to collaborate in bringing about about real change. Where philanthropy builds ties between people and organizations, we seek to encourage relationships among people, and expand our community's capacity to give back and improve our collective lot.
Charity, aid, relief, and social services are terms that usually refer to rich people or the government making decisions about the provision of some kind of support for poor people -- that is, rich people or the government deciding who gets the help, and what strings are attached. You can be sure that help like that is not designed to get to the root causes of poverty and violence. It's designed to help improve the image of the elites who are funding it and put a tiny, inadequate bandage on the massive social wound that their greed creates. No, Soupçon is not a charity. Soupçon Salon is a place where we offer support and receive support, where we work out our differences, and where we can learn to thrive as a community.
Although the terms are interchangeable, we specifically call people in our society partners, not members, for two reasons. The word “member” sounds both too exclusive and too passive. Soupçon is inclusive and partners are expected to be active participants in the creating the society they want to see. In other words, partners are expected to get their hands dirty once in a while. Working toward utopia is hard work, but we can do it together.
Partners pay yearly dues of $120 ($10/month) to join, and can sign up on the website or by visiting the firehouse and finding a QR code for joining. The dues are used to make sure operations go smoothly, to pay the rent, and to maintain equipment and property. In the future, they may also be used to fund projects and additional partner benefits.
Partners currently receive many benefits:
Not that we see it as a "benefit," since inclusivity should simply be the way things are. But it's important to note that we design our society with a commitment to including all. We work together to dismantle internalized systems of oppression and keep each other accountable. We support and center our most vulnerable and our most oppressed members of the community and society at large.
Access to and Use of The Space
Partners are able to gain access and host meetings and events at our space. We are currently moving, so stay tuned for updates about our new space. All are welcome. The music is local. The projects are fresh. The upstairs lounge is a relaxing sanctuary with wi-fi and air conditioning ready for work, organizing, or socializing. Partners may also reserve the Firehouse as rehearsal space.
Partners may use the co-working space on the second floor of the Firehouse, complete with wi-fi and printers. Co-working hours are Monday through Friday, unless otherwise specified.
Soupçon seeks to offer direct assistance to those experiencing life difficulties. In a time when many people don't have other places to turn, Soupçon will listen to community needs. We will work to meet those needs and support the well-being of our community.
Exclusive Events and Partner Discounts
In an effort to encourage partnership, we host exclusive events that are only open to Partners. Other events are provided at a discount to partners.
Artists and Craftspeople Showcases
The walls are meant for local art. How that will be done will be up to those who get involved in shaping the gallery.
A big part of working together is teaching other people how to do things. Partners are encouraged to host a class on anything useful, creative, or empowering. This could be how to practice yoga, build websites, knit hats, figure drawing in watercolor, or make baskets out of materials from the path along the canal, or whatever! Let's share our skills!
If you have ever performed in this space, you know there is magic. We intend to hold weekly, curated events at Soupçon Salon in the model of the original event, and we would love all the local musicians to have a chance to shine in front of their neighbors. These events may be recorded and live-streamed to RadioFreeLambertville.com. Attendees are encouraged to contribute a tip to the performer.
We have a PA and a space large enough for a 3-4 piece band or 4 musicians if we want to reach the maximum capacity of 35. And of course, there is always open mic night.
Guidance and Leadership
We're all in this experiment together. We need to meet to make decisions and resolve issues. We need to adapt as new partners come in with fresh ideas and as conditions inevitably change. How do we do this without hierarchy?
Partner meetings take place in person once a month, with an option for remote participation. All partners have a say in our path forward, and decisions are made via consensus. As the group becomes larger, we will create teams that work on short or long-term projects and report back or submit proposals to the larger group. Decisions are transparent and made in accordance with the process defined by the group.
The first team we must create is a "Board of Directors," which is required by the IRS. The Soupçon Board of Directors make operational or administrative decisions to keep the organization running. In contrast to more passive and hierarchical organizations, the Soupçon Board of Directors does not have the power to make certain decisions without the larger group's approval. It will be up to the society to decide which decisions require consensus among the larger group.
How Can I Help?
We have no shortage of work to make this happen. No one partner should be taking on a majority of the work. Come out to our monthly partners meeting and get involved! At the very least, subscribe to our mailing list below if you are interested in learning more and possibly being involved in this creative act. Soupçon is a space for all of us to grow together.