Pie It Forward goes to Flint

A few weeks ago I sent out a flurry of emails and tweets to various organizations and people in Flint. I had just had yet another negative interaction with someone who felt the city of Flint was too dangerous. Too dangerous for what? Too dangerous to live in? Too dangerous to give away pie in? I have no idea.  I personally don’t believe that anywhere is too dangerous for pie, and my closing remarks were something like “If I wasn’t so committed to maintaining a family friendly image, I would give pie away in the nude just to prove you wrong.”

 

Long story short, there will NOT be any nude pie giveaways (food safety regulations and so forth). But there WILL be pie in Flint! I met with three lovely people today who all were brought together by the power of Twitter to hear my story. Sue of Diplomat, and Lorraine and Dallas of Carriage Town Ministries, invited me up for lunch so I could talk about the possibility of giving away pie in Flint.  We got along so well that Lorraine scheduled a Pie It Forward event for May 13th, where we will take over CTM’s industrial kitchen and bake for 100 people! Our biggest crowd ever!

 

Chris and I are both very excited to expand our reach within our home state, and to learn more about a city that has a lot of naysayers.  Obviously the naysayers have never met Sue or Lorraine or Dallas!

 

This will be a closed event, for the residents and staff of CTM, but it will pave the path for open events in the future.  If you know of a nice open area in Flint, a park or some other public setting, that is currently suffering from a lack of pie, please email us! pieitforwardoccupie@gmail.com

 

In the meantime, please go learn about our new friends over at Carriage Town Ministries. http://www.carriagetown.org/

Thank you Alpha House!

Saturday night’s event at Alpha House was a hit!  We got an email back from staff member Kathy, who quoted a resident who said our shepherds pies, lentil soup, and apple pies were the best meal they’d eaten at Alpha House!  I give credit to staff member Dan, who found vanilla ice cream to go with the apple pies.  Chris and I really enjoyed spending Saturday with the residents, staff, and interns, and we’re sure we’ll be back later in the pie season.

 

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There’s staff member Dan on the left, helping us show off a completed apple pie. Thanks again for having us, Alpha House!

 

You can help Alpha House in their mission to shelter and support families experiencing homelessness, too! Check out their website – http://alphahouse-ihn.org/

Second Event – Cooking with Alpha House

2014 is off to a great start! We’ve already booked our second event.  On March 29th, a Saturday, we’ll be making dinner for the residents and staff of Alpha House, a local shelter for families with children.  Please take a look at their website and learn more about the valuable work they do in Washtenaw County. http://alphahouse-ihn.org/

 

We have not forgotten about Liberty Plaza! I keep looking at the weather, and I was hoping we’d get out there this Wednesday, but it’s still just too cold. It’s very frustrating to sit outdoors for two hours while the food gets cold and no one comes by to eat it.  We will keep looking for indoor venues until Spring takes hold.

 

To that end, if any of our wonderful pie fans have suggestions of organizations in south-east Michigan, especially Flint and Detroit, we would love to hear about them.  Please email any leads to pieitforwardoccupie@gmail.com and thank you for helping us pie it forward!

Thank You Neutral Zone!

We had a fantastic time at tonight’s event at Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone!  We arrived at 2 pm and dove right into prepping the shepherds pies, apple pies, and vegan tomato lentil soup.  The teens and volunteers played trivia games that ended with one of the staff and one of the teens squaring off in a whipped cream pie showdown!  And most importantly, every slice of pie was eagerly gobbled up.

 

We were really impressed with the programs offered at the Neutral Zone. Art classes, recording studios, even a publishing house, they have it all.  And they seemed equally impressed with our mission, so hopefully there will be more delicious team ups in the future!

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Countdown to our Season Opener!

We’re less than 24 hours away from our first event of 2014, and we could not be more excited! We’ll be at Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone, a teen resource center, on Thursday afternoon, baking up shepherds pies and apple pies for approximately 40 teens and volunteers.  Chris and I just got back from picking up all of the ingredients at Costco and Meijer. I must admit, I’m already looking forward to fall, when we can buy apples right from the orchard again!

 

Here’s to a great 2014, pie fans! See you out there!

First Event of the Season!

Hooray for pie!  Hooray for spring!  I just got off the phone with the fine folks over at Neutral Zone, a teen resource center in Ann Arbor. We’re going to be baking with them on March 20th, a Thursday.  Since we’re guests in their space, I’m not quite sure who’s invited and who’s not, but it seems safe to say that if you’re a teen in the Ann Arbor area, you should stop on by!

 

Here is the Neutral Zone’s website – http://www.neutral-zone.org/

You’re On Fire

I have a simple philosophy for life – If I can help you, and I refuse to help you, I am now hurting you.

 

Here’s an example. You’re on fire and I have a bucket of water.  I happen to pass by and notice that you are on fire.  I say “Wow, I’m sorry you’re on fire, that looks terribly painful, but I might need this bucket of water later. I might catch on fire myself. I might get thirsty. I might see some flowers I want to water.” Now, by refusing to put out your fire, even though I clearly have the ability to do so, I am burning you. I am harming you.

 

This is why I don’t have a lot of patience for people who say things like “Oh of course I’d love to help the homeless … once I graduate and get a good job.”  Or “I’ll donate more when I get a promotion.”  That sentiment doesn’t hold up very well if you’re thinking about people being on fire.  Would you say that to someone you passed on the street? “Hey man, I’d love to throw this bucket of water on you but I’m about to be late to work, good luck though!”

 

And it turns out, I don’t much care about the origins of your fire. Maybe someone set you on fire. Maybe you stood too close to a fire.  Maybe you habitually bathe in kerosene and set yourself on fire.  Maybe you’ve been on fire many many times before.  It doesn’t matter to me.  I believe you have a fundamental human right to not be on fire.  And of course, if you are the kind of person who sets yourself on fire a lot, I wish you would stop, and maybe I will suggest that you go to a Firestarters Anonymous group, but that’s not a condition of me putting out your fire. It’s just a suggestion, and you’re under no obligation to take it.

 

One counter-argument I hear a lot is “Charity starts at home. Put on your own gas mask first.” And to that I say BS. I can admit that our lives are a bit unstable. Yes it’s true that we eat a lot of rice and eggs, but we have the ability to buy the rice and eggs in the first place, and cook them, privileges that many people go without.  Yes our housing situation is somewhat less than ideal, but we are housed. We sleep in relative safety, warmth, and comfort, while others sleep in tents or underneath bridges.

 

If we are on fire, it is a small fire, perhaps a small ember caught in the tread of my boot.  And while I try to dislodge this ember and stomp it out, it would be a gross misrepresentation of the truth for me to look at someone ablaze from head to toe and say “Sorry I can’t help you, I’m on fire too.”

 

Critics have told me that I’m allowing other people to take advantage of me, simply because I don’t ask to see proof of how bad the fire is before I give my bucket of water.  Do people lie and exaggerate? Probably some do. But maybe people lie because no one believed them the first time.  Maybe they lie because they’re tired of being told “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and fetch your own water.”  Maybe they lie because it’s painful and exhausting to BE ON FIRE and have people look at you like it’s your fault, to have people watch you with disgust in their eyes as you burn to death in front of them.

 

To torture this metaphor a little further, I have found that I am very flame-resistant. Through some accident of genetics and upbringing and geography, I don’t catch on fire very easily.  I’m no more or less deserving than anyone else – I didn’t earn my flame-resistance – I’m just lucky.  Oh sure, I might have that little ember caught in my boot tread I mentioned earlier, but experience has taught me that it’s very unlikely to blossom into a raging inferno.

 

But many other people are not so lucky. They are highly flammable. And as the lucky flame resistant person, the only way I can live with myself is to acknowledge that luck is un-earned and random, and try to put out as many fires as I can.  I try not to lord my flame-resistant status over others.

 

In an ideal world, no one would catch on fire in the first place. But in this world, I hope I can inspire people who have buckets of water to be a little more generous with them.  And I hope I can give comfort to those who have been on fire, or will be on fire again.  I want to say to them “I see you and your fire. I will not ignore you. I will not blame you. I will put your fire out.”

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