Stone Soup unplugged

On June 26, Orlando code enforcement officers cited the Stone Soup Collective with numerous violations, the most important of which is noise.

That means the collective can't continue to have the punk and hardcore shows that have kept the nonprofit, volunteer-run organization afloat.

Last month, for instance, the venue had 27 nights of live music, with unknown local bands playing in a room no bigger than your average living room and then being asked to turn their profits back over to the collective.

But without that, the collective may not be able to meet its $855-a-month rent bill. And on its shoestring budget, it's unlikely the collective could afford another space where concerts are permitted.

If this is the Stone Soup's death knell, it would strike a blow to Orlando's activist community. Since it took over the space at 1020 S. Orange Ave. in 2000, the collective voluminous library, and weekly progressive and anarchist meetings have anchored local activists, who gather regularly to discuss social and economic justice issues.

In 1998, Stone Soup Collective emerged from a weekly youth liberation gathering at a Winter Park punk club called Suburbia. When the club shut down, the group began seeking its own community center, even as its meetings were held in the Rollins College courtyard or the Orlando Regional Medical Center's cafeteria.

In true socialist form, the collective's 250 memberships are based on a sliding scale, between $10 and $45 a year, hardly enough to pay the bills. That's where the music came in.

"It's looking pretty bleak," Bully says. "We're month to month."

Noise wasn't the city's only complaint. The collective was also cited for not having permits for signs, operating a business without a license and having cluttered windows.

"The mixture of leftist politics and loud punk rock are not exactly welcomed by the political community," Bully responds in an e-mail. "In late June a police officer came during a show and said something to the effect of you have very rich neighbors -- they're not the type of people you wanna piss off Ã? they can make things happen -- they can shut you down.' We received the citations less than a week later."

Officials with Orlando code enforcement could not be reached by press time, so it's unclear whether complaints from the Stone Soup's neighbors prompted the citations. Certainly, nearby residents wouldn't be thrilled by a place that blasted punk rock while catering to a young, activist and often anarchist crowd.

As for the Stone Soup Collective, it's future isn't clear. Nonmusical events are still on tap, though Bully has canceled the much-anticipated Buckwild Fest, which would have featured 21 Florida bands this weekend.

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