Stone Soup is a coalition of community groups, grassroots activists, and artists who came together in 2006 to serve a disadvantaged neighborhood in central Massachusetts through a variety of projects and activities – most notably the establishment of a community center that functions as a neighborhood anchor and safe haven for children and adults. Over a dozen groups maintained offices and used the space on a regular basis and many others hosted events there, including a community bicycle repair and advocacy group, a prisoner solidarity group, a community art studio and gallery; an immigrant coalition, an environmental justice organization, and the local chapter of the ACLU. All members are co-owners and collaborators in defining the space. In their words, “It is not just ownership of the building that gives the organization a sense of sustainability; it is also ownership of the decision-making process that makes the collective work.”
When an electrical fire in 2009 rendered their building uninhabitable, the collective remained intact and engaged in a slow but steady capital campaign to rehabilitate and expand the building. As general contractor they chose Youth Build Boston, a nonprofit that provides jobs and training in the building trades to young adults, and the local carpenters’ union provided substantial in-kind goods and services. Several other community-focused organizations also participated in creating a long-lasting, energy efficient, and economically sustainable community-owned building. An Equity Trust loan in 2013 provided the final piece of financing needed to complete the project.