On Saturday August 23rd, we will be giving away free apple pie at Blue Frog Books in Howell, Michigan, at 3 pm. We met the owner, Rob, a few weeks ago and we really connected over our shared passion for connecting the community and promoting local solutions. Check out his store’s site http://www.bluefrogbooksandmore.com/ and go say hi!
We just received a very exciting letter from the free church folks in Flint – they received our Letter of Intent and would like to keep us in the running to be the new residents/owners/care takers of their building! Woo-hoo! We advance to the next round, which will be meetings with Elders at the church, exact date and time to be determined.
However, before that meeting takes place, we’d like to really WOW them with a pie event of their own. That’s not bribery, right? That’s a demonstration!
On the boring paperwork side of things, Chris and I are still hammering away at the 501c3 application. We also opened a business checking account with Lake Trust Credit Union, and we finally have official Pie It Forward debit cards to use! We need to switch over the paypal account, but in the meantime, we are able to accept donations in the form of checks made out to “Pie It Forward.” Please email email@example.com to get our address if you’d like to send a snail mail donation!
One year ago today, Chris and I, along with Scott, our hitch hiker, were semi-stranded on a cattle ranch with no internet access just outside of Austin, Texas. A friend of a friend had a connection and wrangled us a place to stay, but we were never exactly welcomed there. We were tolerated.
I found out why after we left – our hosts heard me talking about Occupy Austin and had decided we were a bunch of lazy moochers. Rather than ask us questions about our pie mission or try to get to know us better, they opted to treat us with mild disdain. Determined not to show up to our planned Austin event without the pies we promised, we stuck it out, feeling on edge the entire time.
I think back to those days a lot. I remember meeting people all over the country who found something really suspicious about happiness and generosity and sharing. Generally speaking, they were white men over the age of 50, and if they offered any auto-biographical summary, it always included the word “independent.”
Often I would flounder as I tried to convince these people of the need to recognize the contributions of others, especially the ones that make a functioning civilization possible for millions. I don’t think I ever converted anyone.
And yet. People keep reading this blog. People keep finding us on twitter and facebook. People keep booking us for events, emailing us about new opportunities, and sending us donations. For every one bitter old white guy who ever told me he pulled himself up by his bootstraps and didn’t owe anything to anyone, I heard 10 stories from folks who were helped by a stranger in their darkest hour.
I believe that random acts of kindness can turn someone’s day around, and I believe that sustained, coordinated acts of kindness can turn a society around.
Today, like most days, I’ll be thinking about all the ways we’re inter-connected and interdependent on people we may only have passing contact with or may never meet at all. When Chris and I head out to watch fireworks tonight, we’ll be benefiting from the labor of road construction crews and utility line workers. The fireworks on display tonight were developed and manufactured in China, transported across thousands of miles of ocean on cargo ships, further dispersed by semi truck, and eventually purchased and detonated by a fire department in rural Michigan. Without those factory workers, sailors, dock workers, truck drivers, and fire fighters, we’d have no 4th of July show.
With any luck, by this time next year, we’ll be celebrating in a space of our own, whether it’s in Flint or Ann Arbor or somewhere else. I would love to see “Interdependence Day” become a widespread celebration. We can still have fireworks, but maybe before the show we’ll put on a free BBQ, or help re-roof a neighbor’s house. And maybe, in time, looking for the ways we’re interdependent, and celebrating them, will become the norm and not the exception.
If you follow us on twitter or instagram, you might have heard about some exciting news yesterday – yesterday morning I woke up to an email from Lorraine at Carriage Town Ministries, letting me (and many other people) know that there’s a church in Flint in need of new occupants. Basically, the congregation has aged or moved away and the Elders are looking to transfer the building into the hands of another non-profit.
In other words, a free building. With a kitchen.
I called the number in the email, and the woman who answered the phone told me we should take a look at the building and if we liked it, we could make an appointment to see the inside. So Chris and I drove up to Flint and found the church. We walked around the grounds, took pictures, and peered through windows. We called back, left our number, and got an call from a church member about 10 minutes later. Some Elders are going to show us around the interior on Wednesday morning at 10 am.
Pie fans … this is big. That is, it could be. Nothing is promised or guaranteed. Nothing is certain. But there’s a chance here, a BIG chance, the biggest, most beautiful chance we’ve ever seen in nearly two years of giving away free pie. And so, in the spirit of optimism, I wanted to share some of the hopes and dreams and ideas Chris and I have been discussing for the last 24 hours.
First of all, with a kitchen, we could finally open a donation-model cafe. There might already be a social area/fellowship hall for tables and chairs.
There’s probably a pastor’s office which could be the new Pie HQ. I could have a desk, like an actual adult! We could have all of our pie paperwork in one place. We could even have pie charts.
There’s probably a library – every church or synagogue I’ve ever been to has one. We could add a few computers for people in the neighborhood to use. We could host computer repair or literacy courses. People could come and use our computers to look for jobs or work on homework.
If there’s an extra room or a hallway someplace, I’d want to fill it with washing machines and dryers, so anyone who’s in need could come and do a free load of laundry. Laundromats are expensive!
There’s a lot outside which looks like it was a community garden at one point. We could revive it and grow pie ingredients, or just grow an assortment of fruits and veggies to be given away free.
And then … well it looks like there’s a basement full of classrooms. And what we would really, REALLY love, is if we could convert one classroom into a sort of bedroom/apartment and just live on site. We have a few others friends who are in uncertain places with their lives and also looking for housing. We’d love to bring them with us. And then, we’d have a full live-in staff for Pie It Forward! Maybe we could even keep our doors open around the clock.
These are big dreams. Please hold a good thought for us and follow along as we try to make these dreams come true!
(PS – if you haven’t seen the pictures, head over to http://instagram.com/pieitforward#)
Starting next week, Chris and I are going to dive head first into all the paperwork necessary for us to get a booth at Ann Arbor’s Wednesday night farmer’s market. We’ll be selling whole pies and slices in order to raise funds to pay our lawyer’s bill and eventually open our donation model cafe, probably in Ypsilanti. Any donations we receive through paypal will also be used to pay down our legal fees and save for the cafe.
We’re very sad to be leaving Liberty Plaza but we had to face the reality that we were running on empty. By selling pies in the short term, we can raise money for the long term and get to our goal of serving food to one and all for whatever price the customer can afford. We are very grateful to all our regulars in Liberty Plaza who cheered us on, encouraged us, and complimented our pies. We hope we’ll see them all again either at the farmer’s market or at the cafe.
We are suspending our Liberty Plaza events for the foreseeable future. Chris and I have spent the last several days going over ideas, failures, successes, and of course the looming reality that we are almost out of money.
We have two new ideas. The first is to complete our application for the Wednesday night farmer’s market in Kerrytown, Ann Arbor, where we would be able to sell certain kinds of pies under Cottage Food laws. By doing this, we might stand a chance of raising enough money to keep a roof over our heads and eventually open our own cafe. Maybe we could even sell Pie It Forward merch, like t shirts or pot holders.
The second idea is to launch a 10 week pie giveaway right in our own neighborhood, to promote kindness. We would love to see a ripple effect of friends and neighbors truly pie-ing it forward, and where better to start than close to home?
Everything is dependent on the agreement of our 3rd member of our board. Stay tuned pie fans.
After much arguing and much consulting of different weather prediction sites, we’ve decided to cancel the weekly event for tomorrow. The storm heading our way covers the entire state of Iowa on the radar map. Sorry pie fans! Hopefully we’ll be back on 6/11.