Yaba Yaba

what? another blog? you must be joking.

free soul food, or the Atheist food kitchen

with 2 comments

Clay Shirky asks:

Would it be possible to run an atheist soup kitchen? (This isn’t an entirely idle question…)


A soup kitchen needs some fixed assets (space, pots, plates), and a reliable supply of three resources:

  • Perishable goods, aka groceries.
  • Manpower
  • Modest finances to cover operating costs.

Let’s assume we have an intitial investment to cover fixed costs (from municipalities, foundations, etc.). The main challenge is sustaining a flow of resources over time. So –

Now, for some administrative health:

  • Use a wiki (such as wikia or google sites) to share organisational knowledge among kitchens.
  • Maintain a public facing blog, with at least 2 posts a day: one informational, one opinion.
  • Use google app engine to construct and manage your operations database.
  • Use ZohoCRM to manage supply chains.
  • List locations of your soup kitchens on http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter

And some PR:

  • Get the right people to blog about you.
  • Get some good viral videos out there on youtube.
  • Publish a constant flow of heart-warming stories of champion volonteers and some heart-breaking stories of your clients.

Most important:

Make a habit of innovation. Make your core service 5% more eficient each year, and use the residue to develop new services.

By the way, here in the civilised world we have an atheist soup kitchen, its called a welfare state. Not as streamlined, not as sexy, but it does keep people from freezing in the streets.

2 Responses

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  1. seems doable..are you following up with it?


    December 4, 2008 at 1:58 am

  2. Hey Douglaskev,

    I forgot to mention the critical ingredient: a devoted, relentless, unyielding entrepreneur. That’s probably rule 1 for any initiative, business or social – if you’re not up for putting the next three years of your life on the table, don’t waste people’s time and money.

    I’m not in a position to make that commitment right now. I’m doing my bit elsewhere. Not that I don’t think this is a worthy project, its just not my project.

    Clay asked a question, and I answered. I’m happy for anyone to steal my ideas. I’m happy to give some free advice. A bit of credit would be nice, some link love, but I won’t make an issue of it. That’s about as much as I can offer at the moment.

    Btw, Kudos for your blog.


    December 4, 2008 at 2:32 am

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