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‘Eager to keep talking’: Complete strangers chat over bowls of soup at Culture Days in Regina

Two strangers who just met are having conversation about social topics over soup as part of a Culture Days event.
Two strangers who just met are having conversation about social topics over soup as part of a Culture Days event. File / Global News

Some people talk for 10 minutes, some for 45, and it’s usually over soup.

Regina’s Culture Days’ event, While Having Soup, matches complete strangers with each other, gives them a broad social topic and invites thought-provoking conversation over locally made soup.

“Every conversation is going to be different in shape, topic and in length,” explained Shaunna Dunn, artistic director of Common Weal Community Arts.

The event is a traveling piece of art by the Montreal artist collective ATSA (When Art Takes Action). Regina’s Common Weal Community Arts helped organize its placement within the three-day Culture Days events throughout the city.

Event organizer Shaunna Dunn said people tend to stay after their conversations and continue talking, sometimes for up to 45 minutes.
Event organizer Shaunna Dunn said people tend to stay after their conversations and continue talking, sometimes for up to 45 minutes.

“The goal of the project is really just about building community connection and all of the things that can come out of talking and sitting down face-to-face with somebody in our community,” she said.

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Willy Sy took part in the event during his trip to Regina. He’s from the Philippines and he said taking part in this event enriched his time here.

“Our topic was about listening and getting to know each other and working toward the improvement of everybody,” he said.

“It’s about getting to know more about your culture, and he got to know mine. It’s very informative.”

On the menu? Vegetarian locally-made split pea soup.
On the menu? Vegetarian locally-made split pea soup. File / Global News

The artists at ATSA travel to each community and pick locally focused topics ranging from “what does home mean to you?” to more challenging questions about prejudice or privilege.

“They’re really just an entry point, and those conversations develop and grow based on what each individual in the conversation brings to it,” explained Dunn. “Anything that’s present in our community or top-of-mind is going to find its way into those conversations.

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“You gain this sense of connection and community,” she said, adding, “We aren’t (usually) speaking face-to-face with each other, or we are, but only within our friends and family, or our streams of community, and this opens up something new that’s really invigorating and exciting.”

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Dunn said after the conversations, something interesting can happen.

“After people have finished the conversation, they’re really eager to keep talking. People are hanging around afterward talking to each other, participants, and the staff and sharing what they got out of that conversation.”

Each event is part of the overall project which continues on its international tour.

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“At the end of the conversation, people get their photograph taken with the person they had soup with. Those photos become part of a larger bank and get shared during the presentation of the project around the world.”

READ MORE: Over 200 artists’ work on display in Regina for Saskatchewan fine art fair

While Having Soup will be at Nuit Blanche in Regina on Sept. 29.

taylor.braat@globalnews.ca