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Baker without Borders prepares a community meal in a homeless encampment in Minnesota

Adam Majewski, a baker and a community activist from Minneapolis, USA  is an active Baker without Borders member since 2017. He believes that “Those who are most in need of things like help with food and basic necessities, deserve the best and finest just as much as all other human beings on this planet we call home.” This is why in October last year, Adam organized and delivered a community meal in a homeless encampment in the Twin Cities. In his passionate story about the event, Adam shares his thoughts on individual and community responsibility towards those who are left behind.

We publish the original story of Adam. Find out more about his inspiring initiatives and ideas at https://themajesticchef.wordpress.com

Crumbassador: A Wall Of Our Forgotten Brothers and Sister, and Bakers Without Boarders-TC: Doing Our Best To Help!

By Adam Majewski

Minneapolis, Minnesota, as a member of the Bakers Without Boarders Crumbassador team, and a career Chef, food is and for the most part, has been a big part of my life for a long time, I find it to be an important part of everyone’s daily life. I’m not a big fan of bringing up the topic of politics in my work, in order to separate my professional life, from my own personal opinion. I how ever have found that in some cases politics have to be spoken about on a level which coincides with some specific topics. In the era of trump, politics have finally here in Minneapolis and St. Paul made poverty and Homelessness more and more visible which is always a sad reminder that poverty and homelessness even still exists in this country, but I feel that it is much-needed in order to hopefully wake people up to the fact, we as a society have allowed our problems as a community of supposed like-minded individuals to go on for way to long, and has created a society which benefits the few at the expense of the many. People in this day and age are so wrapped up in their own life’s problems that we forget, in order for society, no matter how big or small to function, that we are all in this journey called life together and that we need to continually help raise up our fellow humans to the same level of our own achievements, or everything else crumbles at our feet.

With that said, here in Minnesota at least, from my experience there have been a lot of people who have been left behind and forgotten about. The largest group of which have been Native Americans who have suffered the most from not being treated the same or even as equals with respect and dignity. Over this past summer, an encampment of homeless, both individuals and families, has sprung up, along the the Hiawatha and Cedar ave corridor of the East Phillips neighborhood. The growing emergency to provide access of basic necessities to these deserving individuals ranging from food, clothing, and clean water and housing for those most in need, children, the elderly and those most valnurable by no fault of their own who all are living here.

Now this past friday October 26, 2018, I organized and delivered my first community meal delivery as a Crumbassador for the Bakers Without Boarders Initiative here in the Twin Cities, to the Homeless Encampment where Cedar and Hiawatha meet. In the past I’ve spoken a lot about people coming together as a community to support those most in need, and have finally started my own path to being more community oriented and active with supporting those most in need of support. As I was prepping food, I became very anxietious with wanting to do a good job and provide them with the best meal i can which to be honest I felt it really was not my own best work and could have not better, mainly due to the rice being cooked through was a bit over cooked on the top layer do to poor container choice for cooking.

How ever the chicken was perfect, but after getting to the site, setting up and starting to serve, my mind went blank, after which I had the biggest realization of my life, a sense of, This Is What I’m Suppose To Be Doing. How ever next time and everytime after that I need to keep improving and serving better and better food. Why? Because those who are most in need of things like help with food and basic necessities, deserve the best and finest just as much as all other human beings on this planet we call home. In fact they probably disserve it more, and I am one of the many bakers, food professionals, fellow human beings who care to take responsibility in providing our services, our leadership skills, as well our skills in our respective careers, at no charge or cost of any kind to them. People out there will ask why? They will not understand! And the only answer I can give is, because, there is no reason at all not to.

We as a group, have lived in a society for to long, which allows us to, think, act, and continue our lives as if we individually don’t need to do anything, because the person sitting right next to us will do it. The problem in this thinking is that no one is putting in to the equation that the person sitting next to every other person is thinking the same exact thing about themselves not needing to help, while also thinking that you will do it. This needs to change, no doubt about it, and until we all take responsibility for not just ourselves but one another, which does include myself doing the same, there will always be poverty and hunger.

what I would have to say, I took most out of my first experience making a full effort to be a positive part of society, is that I need to be more involved helping others, as well it is what makes me the most happy, to make sure others are receiving a good home cooked meal from the heart.

What I hope is next as a Bakers Without Boarders Crumbassador here in the TC, is continue working with those at the Hiawatha Encampment providing meals and food when we are able to raise enough money to do so, through donations, community focused events and community focused sports to bring EVERYONE together from the poor and homeless all the way up the social ladder, no matter what it takes to create positive change both in our local community and hopefully around the world.

 

The BHN model part of three international platforms on good practice exchange

Recently the Bread Houses Network models and methods were chosen to be presented on three international platforms aiming at spreading good practices in the field of social change as well as establishing partnerships. You can find us at:

RACCOMBAT – a platform aiming at presenting and sharing “tools and mechanisms to prevent and combat racism and xenophobia against non-nationals throughout their whole integration in society”. The BHN model will be also presented in a printed material, describing three main good practices identified during in the frame of RACCOMBAT project. The brochure will be published in English, German, Romanian, French, Greek and Bulgarian and spread among 3500 stakeholders in Europe.

URBiNAT Natural Based Solutions catalogue – a platform which “integrates territorial and technological solutions, comprising products and infrastructures, but also participatory and social and economic solutions, comprising processes and services, putting in dialogue the physical structure and the social dimension of the public space.” As part of the URBiNAT project, the BHN model will serve as an inspiration for local communities in Portugal, France, Denmark, Belgium, Slovenia, Italy, Iran and China for the development of their local natural based solutions.

International Agora’s Project  – online platform under construction for cross-border sharing of know-how and projects. The aim is to research partnership for Social and Solidarity Economy companies (technical, commercial, financial) in one or more countries; exchange and/or transfer of know-how between projects; fertilize, incubate and develop social and solidarity economy projects, initiatives or start-ups in different countries. The BHN role will be of a potential partner.

Bread Houses Network presented in a food podcast

In December 2018 the BHN team was joined for two weeks by Jana and Sylvia – two energetic students from the University of St Andrews, UK travelling through Europe to visit and work with different food-related projects having a positive environmental or social impact.

They created a great video  telling what is a Bread House and recorded an interview with Zdrava and Sandra from the Sofia Bread House. The interview became part of Jana and Sylvia’s Travelling Foodcast – a podcast on inspiring food-related projects aiming at positive change!

The two students also supported our team in the organization and holding of bread making events and participated very actively in workshops with refugees, Roma children, people with disabilities and other groups. As part of their stay in Sofia they discovered other social initiatives related to bread, but also organized a networking event for local activist “Food as a tool for change” at which they presented the initiatives and NGO’s they visited during their travels.

 

 

 

FedEx supported the Bread Houses Network core team

In September 2018 the BHN team had the great opportunity to participate in the first FedEx Global Leadership Corps program in Bulgaria, aiming at supporting civil society organizations. The project was implemented in partnership with the international organization PYXERA Global and engaged four more Bulgarian NGO’s: Humans in the LoopJA Bulgaria, Citizens and Trust for Social Achievement.

Within the program three experienced FedEx experts worked with the BHN team for a month: Noki Martin (financial exert from FedEx Services), Wes Milligan (communication expert from FedEx Freight) and Sarah Subick (organizational development expert from FedEx Express). Their goal was to strengthen the BHN team by examining its business plan and by helping to build up the professional capacity of the organization. Based on interviews, observed events, SWOT analysis, RACI analysis, review of all available written material, financial material, and web presence, the FedEx team submitted recommendations for improvements in the existing work processed but also for introduction of new work activities within the organization.

 

Bread connected the Danube countries in Ulm

Between 12th and 15th July Zdrava Vodenicharova from the Sofia Bread House visited Ulm, Germany and took part in series of events part of the project Tastes of Danube – Bread Connects. On July, 13th the conference “Intangible cultural heritage in the Danube Region – a national asset or a contribution to European identity?” brought together more than 100 representatives from 13 countries in the Danube. Apart from lectures about cultural heritage as a contribution to European identity, partner groups of the project reported their experiences with the method “Bread making as a social event” of Bread Houses Network in which they were trained and certificated in October 2017 in the Sofia Bread House. In the evening, the Danube-Networkers celebrated their 10-year anniversary at Haus der Begegnung in Ulm. On July 14th Zdrava visited the old, but still very active community oven in Seissen village where together with other participants and the mayor Barbara Rüd baked traditional breads. The afternoon was spent in the unique Museum of Bread Culture in Ulm.

The highlight was the Danube Bridge Breakfast on 15th July located at the historical bridge Herdbrücke which connects the two parts of the city. Citizens from Ulm and Neu-Ulm and the surroundings, as well as people from different Danube countries were invited to the event to taste small snacks and to talk about everyday life, cultures, interests and experiences. The activity on the connecting bridge illustrated the uniqueness of the Danube neighbor countries as well as the goal of the organizers to live in a peaceful and solidary Europe united in diversity. Most sincere thanks to Carmen Stadelhofer and her team!

Theatre of Crumbs with social activists in Budapest

Between 4th and 7th July Sandra from the Bread Houses Network participated in the seminar “Experiencing a fairer and more caring society” organized by All Together in Dignity – Fourth World – an international non-governmental organization and a movement of solidarity among and in collaboration with the most excluded families around the world . The event brought together more than 30 people from Romania, Macedonia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, France and United Kingdom. All participants are working in organizations or participate in informal initiatives aiming at supporting, including and working in cooperation with people living in extreme poverty. During the three days of presentations, discussions and workshops the participants were aiming at finding out how a fairer and more caring society can be built, based on the thinking and experience of people from the most vulnerable groups.

During the event took place two bread makings based on the “Theatre of Crumbs” method developed by the Bread Houses network. The participants presented that part of their work and those initiatives that in their opinion contribute the most to building a fairer society. They also shared the challenges they meet in their day-to-day social work as well as what helps them overcome them and what motivates them to continue despite all difficulties. Once again the bread making proved to be a great tool for fostering discussion and for including even the shyest participants in the exchange of points of views and personal experiences.

 

Solidarity Bread at the Solidarity Fest

For the second year, the Sofia Bread House took part in the Solidarity Fest which took place on 23 and 24 June in front of the Sofia History Museum. The event was organized by Caritas-Sofia in cooperation with Multi Kulti Collective and CVS-Bulgaria.  The goal of the festival is „to emphasize the importance of solidarity in the widest sense – between different groups of people, between cultures, generations, between man and nature.”

This is why the Sofia Bread House took part with an event from the „Solidarity Bread” series, which is being organized since September 2017 together with the initiative Solidarity Kitchen of the Food, not bombs – Sofia citizen movement. As it was raining on the day of the event – 23 June, the bread making was located in the Sofia Bread House and not in front of the Sofia History Museum. Same as every month, activists and volunteers, among which unprivileged people made bread together. On the next day the breads became part of the free lunch for people from vulnerable groups, organized by the „Solidarity Kitchen” in the Solidarity Club on 51 Georg Washington St. The bread making was based on the „Theatre of Crumbs” method and gave the chance to everyone to express their vision of solidarity.

We want to thank the photographer Lora Dimitrova for the powerful pictures from the event! Take a look at the whole album here.

            

A new bread house in Prevala village

In June, in Prevala village, about 130 km from the capital of Bulgaria, a new Bread House was opened! It’s located in the old community bakery in the village, equipped with a wooden oven.

The Bread House will be combined with a manufactory for natural jams and syrops, which employs women from the local community called „Sinevka”. Maya Kirilova from the nearby town Chiprovtsi is the founder and owner of the enterprise and the new space for community bread makings.  In 2015 Maya and a friend of hers opened a small workshop in the old village bakery, which was renovated thanks to the help of the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme.

The new Bread House is aiming at reviving the bread traditions in the village – by the organization of community bread makings and the production of artisan bread. Soon, the new social center will have a hall with weaving looms where will be organized workshops for passing on the traditions.

In May, the team of the new Bread House underwent training in the main methods of the Bread Houses Network. As a part of it, a community bread making was organized with ladies from the local folklore dances club and the village. The topic of the event was „What does bread mean for me?” and the participants shared their childhood memories and what were the bread related traditions in their families.

With the Bread House in Prevala, the Bread Houses in Bulgaria become nine. The rest of them are located in Sofia (2), Plovdiv, Zlataritsa, Gabrovo (2) Lobosh village and Svilengrad.

We took part in the Days of Good Deeds!

On the sunny Saturday of May 26, the Bread Houses Network joined Tulip Foundation’s initiative Days of Good Deeds organized in the last week of May and aiming at demonstrating the importance of volunteering, as well as the role and the power of volunteers.

We took part with the Solidary Bread event, which is organized in the Sofia Bread House every month since September 2018. The initiative is carried out in partnership with the self-organized activists movement Food, Not War – Sofia, which organizes Solidarity Kitchen for disadvantaged people every Sunday. The Solidary Bread events involve a large number of volunteers – together they prepare bread which on the next day becomes part of the Solidarity Kitchen’s free lunch distributed at the Solidarity Club on 51 Georg Washington St. The event involves both activists and people from disadvantaged groups. Every bread making is devoted to different topics related to the cause of solidarity towards disadvantaged people – issues such as poverty, peace, active citizenship and others are discussed. Thus, besides taking part in bread making, the volunteers have the opportunity to express their opinions and to unite around new ideas for cooperation.

On May 26, within the Days of Good Deeds, the bread making was called “Colorful and Solidary Bread” and three types of bread were made: with olives, greens (nettles, rumex and spinach) and dried tomatoes. The products were provided thanks to the support of the Tulip Foundation. The volunteers got creative both in combining the different ingredients and by drawing in flour.  The theme was dedicated to the “colorfulness” of our society and to the question of how we manage in accepting and appreciating it.

We would like to thank to the Tulip Foundation for the possibility to take part in the initiative and for their support, as well as to all volunteers who took part and shared their time and creativity!

Social Еnterpreneurship Training in Summer 2018

The Bread Houses Network Team and the Sofia Bread House have the pleasure to invite social activists, social enterpreneurs and all interested in community events and development of social businesses, to take part in a Social Еnterpreneurship Training in Summer 2018.

Here you can find an invitation and a short presentation of the training.

We, the International Council for Cultural Centers and Bread Houses Network have been awarded for our innovative methods in social entrepreneurship by the global United Nations Intercultural Innovations Award 2016. Our unique social business model – bakery and cultural center in one has been widely recognized globally, with more than 40 people from 6 continents trained to implement our services and products in addition to developing their own innovative ideas.

Don’t miss this opportunity 🙂