Updates on the Pie Book

I’ve got 3 complete-ish chapters. My new goal is 5,000 words per week, or roughly one chapter per week. I hope to have a completed rough draft by the end of February. The book will contain our road trip stories, recipes, back stories, and much much more.

And … I need to commit to this. The potential rewards of writing and selling this book are so high. I don’t expect writing a book to make me a celebrity, but I could at least speak at local book stores and have a product to show for the last 2 years of work. I could actually get paid! I could have the money I need to open a pie cafe!

And so, this is my job now. I am committing to writing 3 or 4 days per week. If I happen to find a job that fits into my schedule, I’ll take it, but Chris is happy working nearly full time, and our lives are very small and inexpensive. We can live on his income for a little while.

If pie news happens, I will tell you about it here! It we can afford to do events, we will. If we get invited to do cool pie stuff, we’ll do it. But my top priority is going to be the book, for the next 4 months at least. Thank you, pie fans.

How is business planning like making pie?

You have to start with the crust.

I’ve been fighting it for two years because I’m a big believer in the power of the internet to work miracles. But it’s time to bring our pie dreams a little dose of reality, otherwise we’re just going to keep flailing around without making any progress.

I met with Tyler Weston today, a local Ypsilanti real estate agent. We talked about potential sites for a pie cafe. The good news is, there is LOTS of space in Ypsilanti for sale. There are closed bars and restaurants that would need some definite TLC to bring them up to code, but the space is there.

The bad news is, we’re not nearly ready to buy a building. In fact, Tyler says we shouldn’t even consider pulling the trigger unless we’ve got $100,000 in the bank and a solid plan for how to meet the monthly and yearly expenses on a building.

What we need -

$850 to file our paperwork with the IRS

$1000+ to pay off our legal fees

$unknown for a building, equipment, inspections, paint, chairs, tables, etc

$unknown to pay myself? I guess?

What we have -

A plastic box full of receipts from Costco

7 pie pans

600 or so stickers with our logo on them

So, we have a long way to go. And the reality is that we need money. And the reality is that, for the last year since we came home from the road trip, we’ve had a core group of 20 or so people who regularly donate money, and I love all 20 of you more than words can say, but that’s not going to get us noticeably closer to our goals. The reality is, I need to stop shaking the paypal button and I need to come up with a way to raise actual capital.

That’s a new word for me, capital. Raising $50 for pie supplies is raising money, raising $100,000 to purchase a building is raising capital.

Tyler had some ideas for us. Some local businesses in Ypsilanti might be willing to sell pies for us, on commission. I have a lot of emails to send and a lot of questions to ask. But it’s a start. It’s a lead. It’s a direction, which we sorely need.

Thanks for sticking with us, pie fans. Hope we have more happy news to report soon.

Greetings from Traverse City!

Hello pie fans! Chris and I are officially now Mr. and Mrs. Kovac! Here are some pictures from the last week.


Our first dance at our ceremony/reception at Charles Mears State Park in Pentwater, Michigan.


Shalosh posing with the card from my mother.


At a historic cabin near the Old Mission Lighthouse.


At Peninsula Cellars, a converted school house that is now a winery.

We have 4 more days of honey moon left, and we are enjoying being unplugged (for the most part). Our mission is never far from our thoughts, however. After the ceremony, when we realized we had a lot of left over, un-opened packages of food, we found a women’s shelter in Traverse City to donate them to. They received about 2 dozen bratwursts, 5 pounds of green beans, 5 pounds of carrots, a quarter of a watermelon, a pineapple, a Costco sized jug of mayonnaise, a Costco sized tub of sour cream, 3 boxes of graham crackers, 3 bags of marshmallows, and a dozen bars of chocolate.  Here’s their website – http://womensresourcecenter.org/

Many thanks to all of our pie fans, who have witnessed this journey! It was in Houston Texas, in July of 2013, that Chris proposed to me. We are so happy to still be so enthusiastic about each other and our mission in the world.

Bountiful Harvest Event Report

On Friday night, Chris and I drove up to Spicer’s Orchard in Fenton and bought an entire bushel of apples. We prepped the apples and pie crust and crumb top at my mother’s house in Brighton, but Chris had to leave by 9 pm because he had to work the next morning. So I assembled 12 pies alone, and didn’t get done until 1 am!




At 7:15 on Saturday morning, I loaded up our collapsible wagon and brought the pies over to St George Lutheran Church for the Bountiful Harvest breakfast. I was greeted by a half dozen or so volunteers, including Kathleen, who I met a few weeks ago at the bagel shop. I also met Yvonne, the director, for the first time in person.



Breakfast officially started at 8 am, and close to 100 people filtered in and out over the next 3 hours. After a hearty breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausage, many people came to top off their meal with a slice of apple pie. I kept telling people that since the pie had an oatmeal crumb top, that made it breakfast food! I sliced up 8 or 9 pies, and gave away 3 or 4 whole ones.



After breakfast, folks are escorted through the food pantry by helpful volunteers, who assist with carrying packages of fresh produce, canned goods, cereal, dried fruit, and even frozen meat! Bountiful Harvest also maintains a free thrift shop of clothes. Although it was the last thing I expected, I didn’t walk away empty handed – my gift was 2 pounds of dried Michigan cherries!



Here’s volunteer Kathleen with her friend Bob.


I made some contacts with folks from other local churches, so there is a possibility we will be doing similar events in the future. But for the next two weeks, we are going to take a break from pie stuff while we go get married and go on our honeymoon!  If you follow us on twitter @pieitforwardusa or on instagram @pieitforward you just might see a couple of wedding pictures, but we’re going to be pretty quiet for the next little while. Thank you again for following us on our strange and wonderful journey!

Last Event of September!

On Saturday, at 8 AM, I will be delivering a dozen+ apple pies to St George Lutheran Church in Brighton Michigan, for the weekly Bountiful Harvest breakfast. Chris will be helping me make the pies the night before, but he has to be at work on Saturday morning, so I will be flying solo for the first time in a long time.


And then! We’ll be taking off for two weeks. We are getting married on Lake Michigan, on Saturday the 27th, surrounded by a small group of friends and family. We have worked extremely hard for the past nine months to keep this wedding low key and low budget! We’ll be self catering the reception, and of course, that means pie! And then we’ll be camping in Traverse City for a week for our honeymoon.


We are not sure what is going to happen when we return in October. I need to keep working on the pie book.  We intend to keep working with Mercy House. We also are still way behind in finishing our 501c3 application process, since we need to raise $850 to file the paperwork at the federal level. I might be starting a side project with a friend, to bake and sell cookies through the mail in time for Christmas. Or I might have to get a “real” job. We’re not sure.
Stay tuned, pie fans, and thanks for sticking with us.

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.


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