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.
Stone Soup is a volunteer run organization that brings together various Worcester leadership development and organizing groups doing social, environmental and economic justice work in the city of Worcester MA. Since moving to 4 King Street in 2006, Stone Soup has become an integral and positive part of the King Street neighborhood in Main South, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Worcester. However, an electrical fire made the building uninhabitable in March of 2009. Even though the fire has produced financial and logistical hardships for the grassroots organizations, most remain integrally connected with Stone Soup activities despite being temporarily dispersed throughout the city.
Prior to the fire, roughly 200 youth, mostly from the immediate neighborhood, and hundreds of adults have participated in activities at Stone Soup. Several neighbors have voluntarily told Stone Soup that the organization has made the neighborhood felt safe enough to let their children play outside, when before they felt the area was unsafe.
In December 2010, Stone Soup became the owner of the building. Previously the building had been owned by two individual members of Stone Soup. This purchase was the intention of the group from it’s beginning and a portion of the insurance settlement was used to make the dream of community owned building a reality. All members, both on the individual and organizational level, are co-owners and collaborators in defining the space. While there are other buildings in Worcester where organizations can rent offices, Stone Soup is unique in the space it offers. Each member group contributes what they can in monthly dues to keep the building running. Stone Soup members make decisions about the shared space and collective projects in a general meeting once a month, and build community in monthly potlucks. It is not just ownership of the building that gives the organization a sense of sustainability, although that is important; it is also ownership of the decision-making process that makes the collective work.
The years since the fire have demonstrated this community’s drive to continue to work together for social justice. Stone Soup has facilitated screenings and discussions of socially conscious films, worked with a coalition fighting anti-immigrant, anti-democratic sentiment in Worcester, and sponsored trainings for interpreters. Stone Soup has continued to organize the King St. Block Party, an annual event which brings together hundreds of neighbors and community members.
In addition to office spaces for organizations and work space for artists, the building boasted two community meeting rooms, a band practice room, an arts and crafts area, a free resource and lending library, a community kitchen, and a computer/internet lab. While there are other buildings in Worcester where organizations can rent offices, Stone Soup is a unique space. Previously separated, Stone Soup has brought together important social justice organizations under one roof providing for increased collaboration and sharing of vital resources. All the organizations are co-owners and collaborate in shaping the mission of the space.
Prior to the fire, fourteen groups used the space on a regular basis for meetings and events, while many others hosted activities there. Below is the list of the anchor organizations. These organizations have committed to returning the rebuilt space.
- Worcester Earn-a-Bike: http://worcesterearnabike.org/
Volunteer organization whose mission is to teach affordable bike repair to neighborhood youth and community members. EAB provides free bicycles to those who participate and have built strong connections with local youth and Worcester’s refuge population.
- EPOCA – Ex-prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement http://exprisoners.org/
Led by ex-prisoners and current prisoners, along with allies, friends and family. EPOCA played a central role in winning statewide CORI reform, and secured the nation’s most effective city ordinance dealing with criminal records.
- Stone Soup Graphics Shop
A collaboration of local artists that provide public space for youth and adults in artistic activities and includes a silk-screening studio, a printmaking shop, and an accessible art gallery
- Worcester Immigrant Coalition http://worcesterimmigrantcoalition.org/
Immigrant led leadership development organization that has organized local activities addressing immigration rights, such as Mayday rallies organized, attended and participated by Stone Soup and Carpenters Local 107 members.
- Worcester Roots Project/Toxic Soil Busters http://www.worcesterroots.org/
Youth and adult organizers focus on economic, social and environmental justice issues, such as their youth led educational and direct action project that tackles lead contaminated soil in Main South and Piedmont neighborhoods.
- American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) of Central Massachusetts https://www.aclum.org/central
A private, voluntary, nonpartisan organization, it works daily in the courts, in legislatures, and in communities to defend and preserve our country’s basic civic values–the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
- Stand Up for Kids Worcester http://www.standupforkids.org/worcester/default.aspx
Volunteers continuously strive to provide life-saving and outreach services to homeless, street kids and at-risk youth.
- Food Not Bombs Worcester https://www.facebook.com/pages/Worcester-Food-Not-Bombs/136476856386711
Free community meals; performing the acts of peace and opposing the acts of war.
- East African Community Outreach