Event Reminder – Mercy House, 9/14

Chris and I will be at Mercy House on Stone School Road in Ann Arbor again this Sunday, with apple pies and with the Wagon House. If you like tiny houses and have never seen one in person, you should come to this event! It’s going to be all about tiny houses and how they can help the homeless! Dinner starts at 6 pm, hope to see you there.


Donations, as always, are appreciated and will help us continue our mission



And here’s Mercy House’s website


The Why of Pie

This is an article I’ve been meaning to write for a long time, but I’ve shied away from it because the subject matter is challenging, maybe depressing, and definitely angering to many people. I’ve gotten a lot of advice about running this blog and our social media pages that basically amounts to “Be upbeat! Be funny! Don’t talk about sad stuff!” But that’s not how you get the world to change. Upbeat and funny is a distraction, a fluff piece on a middle school dog show on the 6 o’clock news, while real news goes unreported.


In the original manifeasto, which is still available to read on this blog, I talk about the contributions of thousands or even millions of people I will never meet. Strangers from all over the country who bought a sweater or a movie ticket and paid a few cents of tax on those items contribute to the roads that the apples travel over, so that I can buy apples at my local grocery store and make a pie. I’ve always believed that it’s not my pie, it’s our pie. Just because I assemble it doesn’t give me the right to hoard it to myself.


That’s all well and good. I’ve gotten pretty far in the last two years with the simple idea that sharing is good and people like pie.


But there’s more. There are people in this country, and in our world, who are consistently denied pie. There are people who are told they don’t deserve pie, or they have to wait for the leftovers after more important people have taken the first pick. There are people who have been contributing to the system their whole lives, picking apples or building roads, who have never so much as tasted an apple pie.


And it’s not an accident that there are people who have less pie or no pie. There are deeply rooted structures in place that determine who gets pie and who does not. There are laws about it. There are insidious social cues that inform how people feel about pie, and how people feel about other people with no pie.


The biggest reason is racism, and the worst form of racism at work in the US today is anti-black racism.


Take a look at my story from the road trip, about picking a fight with a police officer in Oklahoma City – http://pieitforward.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/cops-and-comic-book-geeks-in-okc/


Now look at news stories about Mike Brown from Ferguson Missouri, who was murdered in broad day light by a police officer. My white skin protected me even as I was screaming at a cop, but Mike Brown’s blackness insured that the police officer would believe him to be guilty of something, anything, and could shoot to kill.


Did you know that during the whole road trip of 12,000 miles, we were only pulled over twice? Once was in the state of Washington, where a state trooper wanted to warn us about elk in the area. We had a headlight out, and he was concerned for our safety. The other time was in Washington DC, when an officer told us our side mirrors were too small, and to please purchase extenders for them. No tickets. No searches. Again, my white skin protected me.


And here’s a story about how Levar Burton, beloved host of Reading Rainbow and star of Star Trek the Next Generation, responds to getting pulled over, because he is black in America – http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/07/02/2245561/levar-burton-explains-how-he-prevents-violence-when-hes-racially-profiled/


When I was in high school, I got bullied a lot because I was a religious minority. I often flippantly referred to myself as “The Lone Jew” but humor was one of my coping mechanisms. When the school police liaison heard that ever day after school, I had to play a real-life version of “Frogger” as I dodged boys who were trying to run me over with their cars and trucks in the parking lot, he elected himself my personal bodyguard. He drove me home for weeks, while he dealt with the boys on school grounds. No doubt he did this partially because he liked me, but also because I was white and young – I was valuable.


Now read about how a police officer in Oklahoma City targeted older black women and raped them – http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/09/06/3564082/cop-who-allegedly-assaulted-7-black-women-released-from-jail/


There are more examples. Every day you can learn about them, if you’re listening to the right people.


It would be easy to keep Pie It Forward a fun, fluffy project about giving people pie. But that wouldn’t change anything. We want change. We want our project to inspire people to think about who’s labor they rely on and who gets the first slice of their own pies.


To put it another way, it’s been 54 years since the sit ins at the Greensboro lunch counters. And while black people may have won the right to sit at the lunch counter, white people have largely responded with disrespectful service, sub standard food, and by moving the entire lunch counter to an all white suburb where bus lines don’t run and cops pull over black people for looking suspicious.


As a white person, I have the option of sitting back and doing nothing, and continuing to live my fairly comfortable life, free from police harassment. As a white person, I can apply for food assistance and have people pat me on the back and say “Things will turn around soon.” As a white person, even when I’m poor and living in my car, people will come up to me and ask me for directions. My skin color has not been associated with crime, low levels of education, and fear. People who don’t know me will assume I am educated and peaceful unless I do something to change that perception, and even if I commit a violent crime, I will be described as “troubled but gifted.”


Black people, and other marginalized people in America, do not have the option of sitting back and doing nothing. Every day they are on display. Everywhere they go, their actions are judged. Even in death, they are not permitted to rest.


As white people, we can do better. We MUST do better.


One of our mottos here at Pie It Forward is “Kindness, generosity, equality.” What we mean by that is “Kindness TO the most overlooked members of society, generosity FROM the most comfortable members of society, equality FOR the most oppressed and the most in need.” We’re not here to be fluffy. We’re not here to give out platitudes or warm fuzzies. We’re here to feed peoples’ bodies and souls, and change the way the pie is distributed.

Events and Announcements

We’ve got 3 events coming up in the month of September!


September 7th, 6 pm, we’re bringing pies to Mercy House.


September 14th, 6 pm, we’re bringing pies to Mercy House AND we’re giving tours of the Wagon House again for their forum on tiny houses.


September 20th, 8 AM (not a typ0) we’re bringing pies to St. George’s Lutheran Church in Brighton Michigan, for the organization Bountiful Harvest. I met volunteer Kathleen today at a bagel shop. We got to talking, and when I asked if Bountiful Harvest would likes pies with breakfast, she put me in contact with Yvonne, the leader. Yvonne said yes!


Other big news – I got an email two days ago from a literary agent who wants to represent me as I finally write the pie book. Part travelogue, part memoir, part cookbook, this is a project that has already been growing in my brain for years, and now I have the direction and guidance I need to flesh it out.


And then! Chris and I will be out of range for almost two weeks! One of my childhood friends is getting married on September 21st, and our wedding is September 27th! We’re going to take the camper to Traverse City for a short honeymoon, and by October 5th, we’ll be back at home, ready for the next pie project.


As always, donations are greatly appreciated! From apples to fuel to legal fees and saving up so we can finally turn in our 501c3 application, every little bit helps.  Thank you pie fans! http://pieitforward.wordpress.com/donate/


Mercy House website – http://www.missiona2.org/mercy-house.html


I couldn’t find a website for Bountiful Harvest, but here’s their page with Volunteer Livingston – http://www.volunteerlivingston.com/org/10477747813.html

Mercy House, meet Tiny House

Chris and I took six apple pies and our beloved Wagon House to the folks at Mercy House for their weekly potluck dinner and meeting. At least 25 people climbed in and out of the Wagon House – not all at the same time of course! The pies were devoured, along with some very tasty fried chicken brought by other volunteers. We’ve been asked to bring the Wagon House back in two weeks as part of a seminar on the Tiny House phenomenon, and we’ll be there with bells on!


Just in case you’re not following us on twitter or instagram, here’s our financial report for today. We spent just under $45 on ingredients to bring pies to Mercy House, $30 on fuel for the truck to get to Mercy House, and $8 on emergency food for ourselves. We want all of our fans and donors to know exactly where the money goes. We want everyone to know that we take your donations very very seriously – they are to be used to further the pie mission as much as possible, and to be used on us only when absolutely necessary. Someday, it will be different. Someday, we will have steady funding and we will pay ourselves. But that day is not today.


Mercy House is a beautiful shade of purple

Mercy House is a beautiful shade of purple

The Wagon House enjoying some greenery

The Wagon House enjoying some greenery

Buffet table with our pies on the end

Buffet table with our pies on the end

Good news!

First item of good news – Chris was hired by Radio Shack! He’s now working part time, with the possibility of full time work after we get back from our wedding trip at the beginning of October. I’m still applying for work, but my search is less urgent now, and we both feel I can continue to work on Pie It Forward as my main focus.


Second item of good news – we’re going to be donating pies to Mercy House’s Sunday dinner. We’ve gone two weeks in a row now, and we were so astounded by what we’ve seen. It’s a true pot luck, with a local church providing the bulk of the meal and other contributions arriving as people see fit. This is what we had always envisioned when we were giving away pie on the sidewalk – we always asked people to bring a dish to pass, but it so rarely happened. There is a true sense of community there, and we hope to be a part of it.


I need to shake the virtual tip jar in your direction, pie fans. Chris won’t get his first paycheck from Radio Shack for two weeks, and the bulk of that money will be going towards our rent and food needs. Can you help us get the supplies we need to bring pie to Mercy House? If 10 people donated $5 we’d be able to buy enough apples, butter, crisco, and brown sugar to make at least 6 pies. Thank you, pie fans!




And please read more about Mercy House http://www.missiona2.org/mercy-house.html

Report from Blue Frog Books Event

That was the most fun we’ve had at an event in a LONG time! We were joined by local authors Linda Nicholas and Judy Powers, who co-authored the book “The Fairy Box,” a young adult novel featuring the fairy doors of Ann Arbor. We were joined by a small crowd who came to hear a live book reading and sample our home made apple pies. We shared a few of our own stories from the road trip, and made a few new friends, including local author Jeffrey Ruth and his lovely wife Victoria, who invited us to make pies in their home!


And of course none of this would have been possible without Rob, self described window washer and blame taker. We met Rob weeks ago and he helped coordinate the whole event via email. We had a phenomenal time, and we’re hoping to see Rob again at upcoming events in the area.  If you’re in the Howell area, we highly recommend Blue Frog Books!




And check out “The Fairy Box” book too! http://www.bluefrogbooksandmore.com/book/9781494208011



Church News

We got a disappointing phone call this morning from our contact at Calvary Lutheran in Flint. They’ve received an offer from an established church that wants to expand and strengthen their outreach into Calvary Lutheran’s neighborhood, so they’re going to most likely accept the offer from the existing church. Our contact told us that she lobbied for us but that more conservative voices prevailed. She wished us the best of luck and I thanked her for all the time she spent with us.


Logically, I can understand their decision, but I’m still crushed. When we toured the church two months ago, it took a lot of will power for me not to twirl through the hallways like Cinderella. My imagination was working over-time. I could see all the possibilities spread out in front of me. Now those dreams are back on the shelf, waiting.


We’re not stopping now, of course. We’ve still got our 501c3 application to turn in. We’ve got the event in Howell this Saturday. We’ll keep trucking along. But we wanted that kitchen and that fellowship hall so badly. We want our own pie cafe so we can start feeding large groups of people. Although we know in our minds that we’ve been doing lots of behind-the-scenes work, it still feels like we’ve been slacking. I miss the interaction of handing a slice of pie to a real, live human being.


If anyone out there happens to know of a restaurant-ready piece of property that’s looking for new occupants in Michigan, please email us! pieitforwardoccupie@gmail.com


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