On Friday, April 7, 2017, the Farmville community came together to award three grants for the second annual Supporting Outstanding Urban Projects (SOUP) Event, put on by Farmville Downtown Partnership and hosted at the LCVA. Two months later, all three of these projects are already well underway. Carley Fetty’s Student Artist Mural Project was awarded a $2,000 grant while Dan Mossler’s Community Herb Garden and Abbey O’Connor and Will Stewart’s Farmville Coloring Book each received $1,000 grants.
“The energy from the event has translated into all three projects getting off the ground really quickly” says Jen Cox, secretary for Farmville Downtown Partnership Board of Directors and Longwood University Director of Local and Community Relations. The Community Herb Garden has been planted and is ready for the community to enjoy. The Student Artist Mural project debuted at the Heart of Virginia Festival on Saturday, May 6, 2017 and artists are currently being sought to draw the images in the coloring book.
Originating in Detroit, Michigan, SOUP events are community-based kickstarter projects that bring together financial supporters with up-and-coming ideas for their region. For Farmville, the goal is to fund projects that will improve or add to downtown Farmville in some way. This includes art, urban agriculture, social entrepreneurship, education, or technology.
With community members, families, and business owners coming to the LCVA on April 7, participants mingled with one another to the sounds of Joel Worford and his guitar. Cox remarked “We were thrilled with the diverse representation of the community coming out and supporting this event.”
This year, 14 applications were submitted. A committee of community representatives reviewed the applications and then chose five to present. These included a community herb garden, Farmville coloring book, interactive educational website for learning about points of interest in Farmville, Student Artist Mural, and an interactive public art project called Unity. Each applicant presented a four-minute pitch to SOUP attendees and then fielded questions.
“The presentations were thorough and really thought provoking,” says John Burton, Program Manager for Farmville Downtown Partnership. “All of them would have made really great projects to help grow our downtown area.”
With ballots in hand, attendees voted for the winners by putting their tickets in the boxes that represented the projects they wanted to see receive funding. After all of the tickets were counted, the top three received funding: Community Herb Garden, Farmville Coloring Book, and the Student Artist Mural.
The Farmville Downtown SOUP event is made possible in part by community supporters. Aramark provided the bread and chicken gumbo and tomato basil soups while Stars Under the Stars and Longwood University each served as supporters for this year’s event.