Radical Soup: a recipe for discussion
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Radical Soup is a collection of leftists who combine their love of community discussion and vegetarian soup. It’s a mashup of scholars, activists, students and professionals, who aim to stir up discussion about the problems of the world and how to solve them.
Susana Contreras, one of the organizers and co-founder, said that Radical Soup started as a group of friends who wanted to create a safe space for discussion and turned into a gathering of roundtable discussions, soup lovers and keynote speakers about a variety of topics.
“Personally, the reason I wanted Radical Soup to exist is because I felt that sometimes college campuses, where I participated in many leftist groups and discussions, are not accessible unless you are a student, or involved with the university in some way,” said Contreras.
While the organization does not have any specific political ideology, they are explicitly anti-capitalist and focus on finding the root causes of problems in the world.
Gabriel Solis, a UTEP student getting his master’s degree in history, is one of the organizers and also a co-founder.
“One of the reasons we use radical is the main definition of radical, which is to get to the root of something,” Solis said. “So we want to look at the root causes, the material root causes of things. Why is there racism in this country, why is there sexism in this country, why is it this city is trying to dispossess a Mexican-American neighborhood right now?”
The next gathering that Radical Soup will host will be about the building of a new arena near Union Plaza that will dispossess the residents of that community on Saturday, Nov 12. At Rock House Café & Gallery the organization will let Las Failias Y Madres de la Plaza Union, a group of women who live in the Union Plaza area, as well as Paso de Sur, an organization that successfully fought against similar plans by the city, but in the Segundo Barrio in 2006, talk about what is going on and what people can do about it.
“This event, ‘The Fight Against Dispossession in Union Plaza,’ is in direct response to City Council’s recent vote to demolish the Union Plaza neighborhood in order to spend $180 million to bring a boring arena to El Paso,” said Contreras. “It will bring together residents from the neighborhood set to be destroyed (which total over 150 residents) as well provide a brief history on displacement in El Paso.”
The topics chosen are a mix of topical and educational, with keynote speakers at every gathering. One of the last events that Radical Soup presented was an educational introduction to socialism as well as an overview of a local democratic socialist party. The event was inspired by the rise of Bernie Sanders in the presidential election and with his rise the increase in curiosity about socialism.
“We have a core collective group of five people, then we invite someone to present on that topic, and we open that to discussion and we have a roundtable talk afterward,” Solis said. “We get somewhere between 25 to 50 people every month for our talks.”
“We talk about various issues, we talk about black and Chicano solidarity, we talk about the border wall and the history of the border wall, we talked about the maquiladora issue,” Solis said. “Last winter, there were a lot of worker rebellions in the city of Juárez so we discussed what was going on there.”
Radical Soup also promoted a student-led “Take a Knee” protest during the national anthem at UTEP’s homecoming game. The event was a protest against police brutality and violence that is directed against black, Latino and indigenous communities.
“That all touched our hearts. We thought it was a great idea, so we decided to help promote it as much as we could,” said Solis.
After coming back from Vietnam, Solis grew to love the way soup can bring people together and made sure that when the collective was trying to get Radical Soup started that it included free soup at every event. Radical Soup makes sure that the soup is always vegetarian so anybody can eat, and Solis says the favorite so far seems to be vegetarian posole, which always seems to run out.
“We believe that soup is revolutionary, and that the power to come together and share a meal can lead to revolutionary action,” Contreras said. “We do not call ourselves an activist group, but rather hope to serve as an open space for dialogue from which activism can occur.”
Radical Soup meets every last Friday of the month at different locations. For more information, visit their Facebook page or at radicalsoup915.com.