It’s time to start the stone soup

Image courtesy of Roland on Flickr.Last week I went to the annual “Stone Soup” luncheon at my son’s preschool.  All of the students bring one item for the soup, they work together to prep the soup, and at lunchtime, the parents and students sit together to eat soup, cornbread and pumpkin pie.  The luncheon idea was generated from the Stone Soup folk tale.

“According to the story, some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers. The travelers fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire in the village square. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making “stone soup”, which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavor, which they are missing. The villager doesn’t mind parting with just a little bit of flour to help them out, so it gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup which hasn’t reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all.     ~~Wikipedia

There are groups of people all around us yet in many ways we have isolated ourselves.  Builders rarely put front porches on homes because many people come and go every day exiting in their car through the garage without ever saying hello to the neighbors.  We have become protective of our privacy.  When we go to the mall, we don’t want to look at anyone as we rush through.  We definitely don’t want to have to talk to those pushy salespeople trying to get you to take a survey or buy salt minerals in the center aisles of the mall.

On social networks, we are wary of strangers, as we should be, and many of the newer additions to the networks are typical examples of why we build a protective wall around our space.  SPAM, SPAM, SPAM.  They go in and sell us and ruin the environment for the rest of us, so we build higher walls, losing out on valuable opportunities to meet “the neighbors”.

So what does this have to do with Stone Soup?  At the beginning of the folk tale, the villagers are very wary of the newcomers.  They don’t want to share their food.  They don’t trust them.  They don’t trust their fellow villagers.  Yet their curiosity was aroused. 

If you are the lonely traveler, you are just going to have a pot of stones.  If you find a way to make small connections, the soup and the community will take on flavor.  Over time, more villagers and connections will happen.  The soup and the community gets richer.   You make the soup better, one ingredient at a time.   One connection at a time.  Each connection leads to more connections as the villagers come together.

Stone soup is not made by one person.  It is made by a community of people collaborating, sharing, and supporting each other to make a richer soup.

Whether your community is online or offline, some times is takes one person to bring the pot and the stone to start the soup.