Cape Town’s first Community SOUP night!

Since fire was created, there has been SOUP.

Warm, healthy, available in all types and sizes – soup is probably one of the most common and versatile meals we have. And sharing a meal is probably one of the most simple activities to encourage social interaction and create a shared experience. Together these form the basis of a new way to increase public engagement and support for Community-based Design.

Introducing: the first Community SOUP night in Cape Town!

Held this August, as part of the Open Design Festival 2017.

*To see a summary of all our Live Experiences from the festival, check out this beautiful photo essay.*


Open Design Festival 2017 – Community SOUP night – Tuesday 22 August!

So what’s it all about?

Community SOUP night was our way of trying to shake up some of the stale practices and damaging associations that have become common in the eyes of the public when it comes to ways to make a difference. Namely: “I can’t make a difference”, “people are only in it to get their name in the headlines”, “so few people are doing anything”, and “you need a lot of money to make a difference”…

…The reality is actually that members of our local Community are finding inspiring ways to do what they can to contribute to greater good in many, many different projects all across Cape Town.

However operating on a small scale often means that channels for raising awareness and funding are in short supply for these projects and activities. And it can be difficult to continue without ongoing support.

So although Designers of Change love to innovate and direct our energy to issues that are neglected; one of our other big missions is to collaborate with and provide a platform for people and organisations that are already doing great work in the Mother City. This supports our belief that working together as a Community has vital benefits over exclusively Private entity or Government run projects. That is after all why our guiding question as Designers of Change is:

“How far can community-based design go in answering the challenges that Cape Town faces?”


Thanks to all the Cape Town locals who contributed their work for display. It helped to create a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere which encouraged engagement between SOUPers, and added a bit of magic to the night.


How does it work?

Community SOUP night is a simple concept, that allows for wonderfully interactive experiences:

  1. Identify local Community members who are running great projects, where even a few extra resources/volunteers/funds would make a huge difference.
  2. Encourage them to present what they do in the most engaging way possible – presentations, props, games, displays, videos, photos, guest speakers, etc
  3. Host an event that focuses on celebrating their work with a broad audience – including good music, live entertainment, hands-on things to do.
  4. Welcome people from all over to come and enjoy sharing a meal together (SOUP!), have a good time, and create new connections / raise awareness.

Basically making it easy for anyone to go beyond just talking, and actually take action to help out a project however they can if they appreciate it!


What happened?

Well! 75 Harrington Street was transformed into a space that showcased the socially conscious artistic talents of local creatives. It hosted a wide range of guests who all enjoyed sharing soup and meeting each other. And it allowed project leaders to demonstrate their projects, and request additional support in a way that each guest was able to assist:

Thanks to 75 Harrington Street and Our Workshop for hosting the event and displaying some of the wonderful Community creations made here. This display included innvoative ways to upcycle used hair braids, and discarded plastic containers.


Thanks also to the CCDI – now CDI (Craft and Design Institute) for setting up a display which helped people to understand more about Design and Build projects in Cape Town – in particular this one where local Community members helped out and learnt knew skills in Langa


Local photographer North McKnight displayed some of his favorite black and white originals shot on film


We love this student’s pieces which address a variety of issues from multiple angles: challenging the status quo of Education systems, voicing the effects of family ties and pressures, as well as inequality throughout society! Happy to support everyone who shares Designers of Change attempts to contribute as best as we can to broadening Learning and connections between all ages and backgrounds, and giving voice to the things that we feel but are hard to say


Students from Inscape contributed a number of pieces with a socially conscious theme


Live entertainment on the night was provided by Eladius aka Swahili Fire. Playing us tunes, laying his own flows to beats, and even a couple of freestyles! Glad he’s found a way to keep spreading his love for HipHop at UCT radio!

Eladius put his performer’s fee towards stock for his small business: “so it was performing ‘n benefit for me”

He would love more gigs in Philippi and Gugulethu if anyone has contacts!


Casey Broom and Chris Hartzenburg were first to present on the night. Sharing video, photos and spinach(!), as well as the methods behind the Solar and Aquaponics project in Belhar. Great work – glad we could help spread the word!

“Thanks again for the opportunity…

We gained a better idea of how to communicate effectively in new environments and with a different audience type to what we are used to. We also gained some contacts which may come in handy in the future… Our cash donation will be used for furthering the communication and exposure of our efforts and innovations”

“We would like to reiterate the call for any cash donations to help us maintain and repair the Belhar Multi-Purpose Community Centre. Anyone who has skills in communication design who would like to help us spread awareness of our project through design or social media channels would also be of great value.” – Casey


Next up was Gabriella Swanepoel, Graphic Design at CPUT, who shared the stories and physical creations which came from her work with the homeless community in Brooklyn. She would love to have more Designers host sessions with the group!

“The Soup night has made me aware that there are designers out there designing for change. It has allowed me to network and gain volunteers, as well as raise funds for art supplies for our creative workshops!”

“The people of Brooklyn want to engage with local designers and collaborate on projects! Come and get involved and share your creative skills with the marginalized!” – Gabriella

Gabriella has more photos of the project on Facebook.


Frances Taylor of Communitree spreading the seeds of their work which aims to increase greenery within the urban spaces of Cape Town. They would love more volunteers to come on board to help out!

“For me the event was a validation of the work we have been working on for a long time but have not had much of it visible. Having people receive the project positively was amazing and gave us a shot of confidence to push and grow. The community we serve gained a number of volunteers, some money and great connections to people with a lot of knowledge and insight.

The cash we received will be spent on a few bags of seed and ‘mother’ plants that we will propagate and plant out in public spaces when the next rainy season comes around.

At the moment we are recruiting volunteers to sign up for a home nursery. A home nursery is where volunteers grow the seeds and the plants we give them into strong adult plants that are then planted out in public spaces, for the enjoyment of people and the local birds and bees. A space as small as a windowsill is enough for a home nursery, so anyone can join.” – Frances

go to to find out more!


So overall our guests had a great time, and our Community project leaders benefitted from:

– gaining presentation practice
– refining their message
– engaging with a new audience
– coming up with interactive elements to make their work stand out
– getting volunteer interest
– sharing the project through our social media
– video/photo content creation
– and of course, some cash donations


Thanks to everyone who provided display pieces and to the SOUP night attendees. You all made this possible. And as you can see from our presenters’ comments above, each one of you played a part in a number of positive outcomes for the projects!



*We are working on putting together a short video to give a feel for the night. So keep a look out for that, coming soon.

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