One thing I’ve learned about myself is that, probably because I grew up in a war, I tend to have an air-raid siren going off in my head. Sometimes it’s in the distance, other times not. Sometimes it fixates on the most trivial of things. We don’t always get to choose what’s in our heads. Maybe we don’t choose what we’re afraid of either.
A second, more slow-motion shock was the flood. A siren sounded before we left our Airbnb. By noon we were barefoot with rolled up pant legs and joking about getting “the real Venice experience.” But that wasn’t the end of it. The following morning there were heavy rains and wind and a much longer siren that meant most of the city could flood.
That was back in July and I've been chewing on this ever since. I’m pretty sure I intended to answer his question by complaining about how busy I am, how many hats I need to wear. These things are true and I say them all the time. Saying I lost my voice instead provoked me to think about what’s happening to or in me. Beautiful Day works with marginalized people who, for the most part, are hidden and voiceless—most obviously because they don’t speak English and don’t yet understand much about American culture…
We are proud to presenting our first Granola for Good Award to IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) an organization that has been serving refugees in New Haven, Connecticut.
This award is the brainchild of our own board member Sandra Enos and it is made in memory of Anne Dombrofski, who many of you will remember was Beautiful Day’s first Director of Strategic Partnerships and before that the Director of Development at IRIS.
Multiple award-winning video takes you inside Beautiful Day (formerly Providence Granola Project) to hear directly from recent refugees on how making great food empowers them (and the larger community as well) by David H. Wells.
This one has a beautiful bird who neither sows or reaps or writes grants or makes granola or handles HR or IT. She’s openly vulnerable, glorious, somehow protecting or maybe just celebrating the lovers in their red refuge. (Egg? or nest? or—I know I read things into Chagall in part because he was a refugee. I’m taking it as that place of creative safety that so many refugees, and all of us who resonate with their experience, long for in our souls.)
It is with great pride that Keith and I share with you our ‘hot-off-the-press’ 2017 Annual Report. As you look through the pages, you will quickly notice that Beautiful Day has a lot to celebrate – yes, we are now five years old as a non-profit and stronger than ever.
First, a bit of background: I’m very new to Beautiful Day, joining the organization in late March after many (many) years in the for-profit world. Within my first few days with Beautiful Day, I had the opportunity to spend a shift in the kitchen, working with the trainees as they made our granola. I had no idea what to expect, but looked forward to the opportunity. I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you about that night.
As many of you know, these are dark days for refugee resettlement. The Trump administration has capped admissions at 45,000—a historically rock-bottom number—and even this number is misleadingly high. Resettlement agencies are already experiencing significant budget cuts, and several dozen will be closing in the coming months.
This is an easy recipe, not too sweet, that showcases the tartness of the apples and fully-ripened Anjou pears. Beautiful Day granolas make this especially easy to assemble. It is a dessert that showcases the fruit, the grains, the dried fruits, and nuts.
Thank you for being our customers and partners in mission. Thanks for making it possible to do things like hire Iman to do exactly what he is best at. We’d love your (tax-deductible) donation during this season so we can continue to train refugees (23 this year) and employ some like Iman.
Many of us gathered here are inspired by the metaphor that a community functions as a body: made up of individuals yet creating a whole. If this is true, then we can't really know who we are unless we are thankful for those—the other body parts—around us. A hand can’t ever be a foot; but it will be a happier, more humble, more curious, more effective and real hand when it begins to depend on that foot. So that’s the invitation. The warning is that if we ever participate in marginalizing other people—or start thinking we don’t need them—then we distort both our sense of ourselves and our sense of humanity.
Beautiful Day is thrilled to be the recipient of a grant of nearly $50,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation designated towards hiring our first marketing and sales manager. Any marketing/sales geniuses out there? Working for an innovative non-profit social-venture is both challenging and satisfying (and awfully fun).
I feel dark sometimes, but I don’t feel paranoid. Beautiful Day is a tiny outpost on the periphery of the refugee galaxy and the US resettlement system, so nobody is out to get us, but we’ll need to be vigilant. Our mission is going to be harder and harder to sustain if only because there will be fewer and fewer refugees arriving in the US, and thus in Providence. Meanwhile, the world population of refugees is growing rapidly.
She was talking about how some of the metaphors that working moms rely on like “a juggling act” serve them so poorly because who would ever want to live a life of constantly throwing the things you care most about in life up in the air and then trying to catch them again. The alternative she proposed was “composing a life," which right away made me wonder if I could ever approach my work as composing or maybe creating a big art-project.
What are the stakes if the United States turns its back on the refugees of the world? I expect a vicious cycle: increased generation of refugees, increasing retention of refugees in some of the world's poorest countries who are least equipped to care for them, increased hopelessness of these populations, increased turning to radical anti-western solutions, decreased exposure in our communities to refugees, decreased empathy and understanding..
On Thursday, March 30th among many of our friends, partners and supporters, Beautiful Day has unveiled its new brand... Our special gratitude goes to the United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse for joining us and speaking so passionately about the importance of diversity and inclusiveness.
When we first decided to re-brand I’ll confess I thought of re-branding as clothes shopping. Since our clothes were getting old, we needed to do what people do especially in our culture: get out to Old Navy or Macy’s and get some new ones. A new logo. Some new labels. A new web site. New colors.
It’s good thing to be alone and small in the presence of breaking waves and shifting dunes and the incredible beauty of a cold fog when some of your life work seems threatened. When I checked my phone, it told me I was walking in open ocean. For some reason that made me laugh out loud. The whole peninsula had shifted east since Google maps recorded it. I keep thinking about that now. I'm a little person.
Perhaps you will remember or have heard about our stony-ground early days as a start-up non profit. We were teaching hidden people to make granola (of all things). I was a volunteer, and we were all wondering whether a small business had a chance to serve our grander purpose.
This tragedy felt close to home at so many levels. Ohio State is my alma mater. That street where it happened is close to where I used to catch the bus. Interesting how we want people to feel safe in places we know. In fact, my brother-in-law was on campus that morning, so my wife and I were texting him while we listened to the news in the car in Boston.
K: My best guess is that on January 21, President Trump will issue an order to stop or pause parts of the US refugee resettlement program. No more Syrians. Possibly fewer from camps and countries that are majority Muslim. I’ve heard a few people wonder if the entire resettlement program could be paused. My own view is that the new administration will put a moratorium on Syrians, Somalis, and maybe designate certain countries or camps as off-limits. It’s kind of bleak.
K: What’s the rush? Can he do this?
K: From what I understand, absolutely, yes. He can't change the Refugee Act of 1980, but that law allows the president broad powers to determine or change the ceiling on the number of refugees that can legally be resettled in a given year.
A couple months ago, on our way home from visiting my parents in Switzerland, Kathy and I spent a few days in Paris and a morning at the Rodin museum. Next to Chagall, Rodin is my favorite artist. There are moments when I wonder if he might have benefited from a better sense of humor, but I love the way his sculptures reach past the anxious buzz of my mind and tell my soul how much people matter. Emotion matters, gestures matter, hands and feet matter, the interplay of bodies in space matter, the movement of a body—even in bronze and without a head (okay, he does have some sense of humor)—matter. Muscles matter. In a way that is message of Rodin for me: every muscle matters.
“For the first time in Olympics history, a team of refugee athletes will band together in Rio de Janeiro this August to represent the 20 million people in the world who have no one country to call home...At recent press conferences, it has become clear that the men and women who comprise the team are united in a simple, yet powerful message they hope to get across to the world:
Providence Granola Project Entrepreneur Assistant Paula Cunanan doesn’t like to go far without access to one of the world’s tastiest granola bars. That’s why when she traveled through Europe volunteering at organic farms, she took along a good supply. Then, picking up on an idea of PGP Director of Strategic Partnerships Anne Dombrofski, she decided to post “Where In the World” photos of her traveling granola bars on PGP’s Facebook and twitter pages.
"Sesame Workshop and the IRC will adapt existing Sesame products and content for regions where the two organizations already have a presence working with young children and their families. ... The partnership is aimed at the children who make up half of the record 60 million people currently displaced around the world, specifically the one-third of that population under the age of eight."
The mayor [of Goslar] has also said, "Anyone who tells me Germany is full up, or that we can’t afford them, I say think of our past, and of the future. Of course we can afford them – we’re a rich country, and we have a duty to help those in need.”