Membership Process

In this packet you should find what you need to become an organizational member / space-user at Stone Soup, or as we call it, become a “COOK”:
1. New COOK process
2. COOK Responsibilities
3. About Stone Soup

  • Important Logistics
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Values
  • History
  • The story of Stone Soup
  • How we run our meetings

4. Description of each current COOK
5. Stone Soup membership process
6. COOKs application

COOK Packet – How to become an organizational member of Stone Soup (PDF doc)
(or here for .doc)

New COOK Questionnaire (.rtf doc)
New COOK Questionnaire (Word .doc)

Stone Soup Chart 2015


a) Get a TOUR of the space (contact us to schedule a time to see the space:

b) Read the above packet and fill out the Application Form, which can be dropped off at Stone Soup, mailed to 4 King Street, Worcester, MA 01610, emailed to or brought to a general meeting, which are 2nd Tuesdays of each month at 6pm.

c) Come to a GENERAL MEETING to present your interest in a space. Remember to bring the application form if you haven’t gotten it to us. This will be a chance to ask us questions and we will ask you questions to make sure you fit the overall vision of the space. Expect 5-20 minutes of the meeting to discuss your membership. You are encouraged to stay and see how we run our meetings, then we might put it on the agenda for the next meeting or ask you to leave before the last agenda item so we can discuss your application in your absence.

d) The Wooden Spoon committee will be in touch with you after that meeting with more questions or to set up a plan for you to get an orientation, move in/set up mailbox, etc.

2. Responsibilities of COOKs
– Have a representative at wooden spoon meetings (6 times a year).
– Have a representative at general meetings (12 times a year).
– If possible, identify a consistent liaison to each wooden spoon and general assembly (to maintain organizational consistency and train people in these skills, as well as for communication purposes)
– Participate in at least one committee (finance, outreach, or building usually meet monthly).
– Each COOK has one chore as decided upon during COOK approval process (chores can change yearly or by special circumstance).
– Participate in at least one fundraising activity per year (this can include grant writing, organizing events, selling tickets, staffing a table, helping with a mailing, etc.).
– Sign a lease agreement if applicable.


Important Logistical Issues about Stone Soup:
Stone Soup is more than just a place to rent an office or studio or kitchen space, it is a collective project that depends on the collaboration of the many who are involved.
Each COOK at Stone Soup has as least one individual who is a member and regularly attends Stone Soup meetings (this individual can change or rotate if needed but consistency is appreciated).
Stone Soup meetings are held on the second Tuesdays of each month at 6pm and are run through a consensus process (more info below).
COOKs have priority in booking use of community rooms or kitchen, which is done by writing the event on the online calendar. If the event will take up more than 2 spaces, or repeats for more than 3 months, it must be brought to a general meeting for approval.
COOKs can sponsor others who want to use the space and are then responsible for what goes on for that event including opening / closing the building and ensuring that it is cleaned up or repaired if damaged.
Stone Soup encourages recycling and composting.
Although there is limited off-street parking at Stone Soup, there is a good amount of on-street parking.

The mission of Stone Soup is to build grassroots power by connecting and enriching groups and individuals in our communities who are working for social justice in Worcester, MA. We are building community and economies based in cooperation and creativity while resisting oppression and gentrification.

Our Vision is to collectively own a building in which artists, activists and community members can create a space that meets and honors the needs of the community. We envision office space for non-profits and small businesses, studio space for artists, venue space for musical and theatrical shows, an art gallery, a cooking space for Food Not Bombs and community dinners, a place for The HX library, a place for groups to have meetings, affordable housing for artists and community members, as well as a home for projects such as Earn-A-Bike and youth activism. Another part of our vision is a community center that really belongs to and meets the needs of the neighborhood in which we are located.

We are committed to empowering members to actively participate in the ownership and decision making process of this community space. We will strive to:
• Maintain mutual respect for all members
• Work together for the common good
• Operate through consensus-based decision-making
• Be supportive of people outside of mainstream society
• Share resources
• Be a focal point for positive energy in the community

Worcester’s artist and activist communities have been a vibrant source of creativity for many years. Since 1979, when the Grove Street Gallery opened, the city has experienced the benefits of having a strong connection to the arts. The Grove Street Gallery lasted 15 years, offering classes, studio space, events, musicians, film festivals, sculpture, and political theater. Grove Street Gallery was squeezed out of its space by the increase in rents.

The Worcester Artist Group began in 1985 with performance art, lots of theatrical events, and studio space for all types of artists. WAG has been through a number of incarnations and forced moves caused by increases in rent and restrictions on performances.

In 2003 “The Spacement” was formed in the basement of the Heywood Building right below where “The Space” once held shows and events, to provide a space for Food-Not-Bombs, a free lending library, Worcester Global Action Network, the Worcester Independent Media Center, film screenings and performances. “The Spacement” was forced to close in 2004.

Around this time many activists and community members were experiencing a need for easily accessible meeting and office space within the city. Groups such as Worcester Global Action Network and Worcester Indymedia Center started talking with artists and other community groups to figure out how to meet these needs.

Out of the Heywood evictions, the WAG dislocations, and need for a community space, disheartened (but not disillusioned) members of these vibrant groups have formed Stone Soup … a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing a permanent space for arts, activism and community projects.

March 29th, 2009 there was a devastating electrical fire while no one was in the building, dispersing the physical locations of the COOKs but not their energy. The fifteen member groups banded together to take on the insurance company, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and complete of a deep energy retrofit rebuild. The building was re-opened in March of 2014.

The story of Stone Soup:
Once upon a time not so long ago, there was a village where food was very hard to get. People jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a wise old artist came into the village and began asking questions as if she planned to stay for the night.

“There’s not a bite to eat in the whole province,” said the mayor. “Better keep moving on.”

“Oh, I have everything I need,” she said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.” She pulled a cauldron from her wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, she drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.

By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square. As the wise old artist sniffed the “broth” and licked her lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism. “Ahh,” the wise old artist said to herself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with rice that’s hard to beat.”

Soon a merchant approached hesitantly, holding some rice he’d retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. “Wonderful!” cried the wise old artist. “But you know, I once had stone soup with rice and onions as well, and it was fit for a king.”

The village librarian managed to find some onions . . . and so it went, through potatoes, corn, carrots, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all. The villagers offered the wise old artist a great deal of money for the magic stone, but she refused to sell and traveled on the next day. Moral: with imagination and cooperation you can enrich the whole village.

How we run our meetings:

In making decisions, we strive for consensus (all in agreement). If a consensus cannot be reached in 2 attempts at pure consensus, the decision is brought to a supermajority vote of three quarters of the membership.

Working groups make decisions that pertain to their sphere of activity, including task-oriented or everyday decisions. Working groups are accountable to the general membership and actively report actions and decisions to the general meetings. Working groups include Outreach and Membership, Building and Renovations, and Fundraising and Finance.

Agenda items are collected from a previous meeting and between meetings. A tentative agenda is presented and then anyone can add items or suggest a different order.

The facilitator has usually volunteered at a previous meeting, and asks people at the start of the meeting to volunteer for the remaining roles.
The facilitator’s job is to support everyone to do their best thinking, to encourage full participation, and to foster inclusive solutions.
The initial jobs of the facilitator are to: initiate introductions from the group, collect agenda items, and start on time. The facilitator is expected to be neutral on issues talked about at the meeting. The facilitator guides the process of the meeting. This role rotates.
The notetaker is responsible for writing down the agenda and taking notes on decisions made and all pertinent discussion. The notes will be kept in central location (currently on google drive) and need to be typed and sent to the main membership email list (currently within 24 hours.
The timekeeper is responsible for keeping the group accountable to the time limits set for each agenda item and the meeting. They are expected to continuously update the group on remaining time.
Everyone: Self-Facilitation
All present should work to assure that the meeting runs as smoothly as possible by being aware of their own participation. Everyone at the meeting is responsible for respecting others viewpoints: by raising his or her hand and waiting to be acknowledged by the facilitator before speaking; being concise; sticking to the agenda item; being honest about their viewpoints, feelings and ideas; actively listening to others comments and; not dominating the conversation.

Some files above are in PDF format (Get Acrobat Reader Free). Some are in .doc or .rtf … to read these, get Libre Office for free.