A Bowl Full of Hope

Soup-delivery project brings together three disadvantaged groups often ignored in Turkey’s largest city

“There’s one!” Hearing this cry from within their ranks on a recent late-winter night, the small convoy of cyclists pulled over to the side of the busy boulevard and sprang into action. A keen-eyed member of the group had spotted a florid pink-and-purple blanket inside a brick archway—a tell-tale sign that someone was sleeping rough on Istanbul’s streets.

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Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is ranked #6 on The 2014 GOOD City Index.

Istanbul’s position at the crossroads of two continents is increasingly precarious, with violent conflicts erupting in Syria and Iraq to the south and Russia and the Ukraine to the north. Domestically, electoral victories in 2014 by the country’s longtime ruling party demoralized those energized by last year’s mass anti-government protests. But neither strife nor political stagnation seems to prevent forward-looking initiatives from cropping up all around Istanbul. Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation recently opened its latest Studio-X outpost in the central Tophane neighborhood, promising to serve as a laboratory for urban solutions in the fast-developing city. Meanwhile, homegrown initiative Gastronomika has drawn thousands to innovative culinary events as part of its quest to shape a Turkish food movement along the lines of the new Nordic cuisine, while ATÖLYE Istanbul, Turkey’s first maker space, is busy preparing for the country’s inaugural Mini Maker Faire, to be held this month—all proof that amid growing instability in the region, this ancient city still has plenty to give.

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