Soup and Bread

New Year, Same Space, and Many Thanks


“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make then endure, give them space.” — Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

This quote from Calvino has stuck with me ever since a friend laid it down in a moment of crisis a few years ago. Is it the actual origin of the term “holding space?” I don’t know. But I do know that, in the midst of our ongoing inferno of the living, Soup & Bread has served, for me, as an enduring not-inferno: a space of hospitality and welcome, free of judgement, save maybe a little friendly competition, and open to all. Every year in April, I wonder if this should be the project’s natural end and then, by November, I can’t wait to fire up the crock pots all over again.

roomWe have been offering up soup for eleven years now and in that time our efforts have grown and shrunk, expanding to sites across the country, from Brooklyn to Seattle, and contracting to Forest Park and Wheaton. Friends and strangers have taken the idea and run with it as far as Oslo — where Sheila and I were lucky enough to go last January for a visit. But in that time we’ve always stayed tethered to our home in the back room of the Hideout.

Now, with the Hideout under existential threat, I wonder if this may truly be the end. I can’t say for sure what will happen in three months time, let alone by 2020. But for now, I want to hold fast against the fires of hunger and greed, and make space for soup to endure. And I want to thank every single person who has helped keep that space secure, and helped us raise more than $80,000 for local hunger relief.

Thank you Sheila, Eiren, and Amanda, for putting your excellent and tireless boots on the ground, every week. Thank you to the Hideout: Tim, Katie, Ick and Immer, and Sully, Amy, and Alice. Thank you to Greg and Craig at Publican Quality Bread. Thank you to every single soup cook and DJ, whom I cannot possibly all name. Thank you to all the organizers and volunteers at food pantries across Chicago, who inform and inspire us. And thank you to everyone who comes to share this cramped and ridiculous space with us every week.


For many years, my friend Karen Gerod at Swim Cafe was a stalwart supporter of Soup & Bread, ever-ready to donate a last-minute pot of soup in a pinch, and an eloquent advocate for the value of making and holding that space, no matter what. Karen died in 2014. Since then, her sister Debra has been beyond generous to Soup & Bread, supporting us with annual donations in her sister’s name. Thank you Debra. We hope that we can continue to do right by Karen’s memory.

And thank you to everyone else who donated to Soup & Bread’s (brief! modest!) 2018 fundraiser: Emily and Marc Antezana, Jennifer Fishman Berman, Janet Beveridge Bean, Gwen Bieliki, Jen Bivens, Ariel Bolles,  Jeannie Boutelle, Julia Cardis, Nancy Natow Cassidy, Aaron Cohen, Barrie Cole, Cinnamon Cooper, KellyAnn Corcoran, Catherine Cox, Jay Em, Lily Emerson, Thais Fletcher Alexander, Joe Germuska, Angelique Grandone,  Brandon Harrington, Katy Harrington, Janice Helming, David Jones, Gretchen Kalwinski, Nora O’Connor Kean, Perry Kim, Megan Larmer, David Levin, Robert Lloyd, Rebecca Lomax, Jillian Mattson, Simona Mkrtschjan, Jennifer Moniz, Kathleen Moniz, Eva Moon, Una Moon, Zina Murray, Jim Newberry, Rick Perlstein, Sean Phelan, Stephanie Reynolds, Lisa Richards Ryding, Andy Ross, Allison Scott, Brian Solem, Kristina Volkening Sonnenberg, John Szymanski, Victor Thompson, Cheryl Trykv, Brian Welsh, Liz Winchester, Kiki Yablon, Carrie Yury, Mandy Zaransky-Hurst, Amanda (for Judy) Zwald.

We could not do it without you. And we wouldn’t want to.

Soup & Bread starts January 2 at the Hideout. Hope to see you all making space for each other in the new year.



Posted: Monday Dec 31,2018 12:49 PM In Uncategorized

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