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The Providence Granola Project

My friend dudeshoes told me about a nonprofit that employed refugees to make granola. My first thought was, Yay! welcoming refugees! Followed by ... Making granola? It seemed sort of out of left field.

But then I asked myself, what kind of project would I imagine that would be better? I had some inarticulate sense that the project should highlight refugees' own cultures--but that's a tall order if you're bringing together people from many different countries. You want common ground. Granola is part of America's culinary heritage, so people can be learning something about their new home while simultaneously learning stuff relating to entrepreneurship in a friendly, fun way.

And granola is a good choice for marketing purposes: it's a food that sits in the overlap space of breakfast cereal and snack, ordinary daily item and small luxury. Unlike bread or cookies, it's got a long shelf life, so it makes a good item to ship. Oats, the base ingredient, aren't too expensive--unlike, say, chocolate.

I liked the name of the nonprofit, too: Beautiful Day. I went to the Granola Project page and ordered some bags. They were delicious! Full of enthusiasm, I ordered Christmas gifts for family members.

They sent me an end-of-year letter that came in this beautiful card:

All the people in the picture have stories. Devote, on the far right, is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and was on the run from militias for 17 years. Siyad, standing next to her, fled Somalia and spent 19 years in a refugee camp in Kenya. Vivian and Evon, the other two women, are Assyrian Christians from Iraq. And Kenneth Cooper, the executive director, was born in Vietnam during the war and lived in a different country each year of his childhood. He writes,

Customers and supporters [have taken] a personal stake in extending hospitality (sometimes even jobs) to refugees. And, in an interesting sort of reversal, making and selling granola became a way for our refugee employees to extend hospitality to you, their new community.

I really love this project now.


( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 21st, 2016 05:24 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful non-profit! Thanks for sharing the link. I'd like to order some granola for my kids.
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:16 am (UTC)
It is really delicious stuff--they will love it.
Jan. 21st, 2016 05:51 pm (UTC)
OK This is a bit weird.
I’ve been thinking about Providence, Rhode Island for the last two hours.
You may find out why in the next day.
This project sounds great.
How interesting if they made a collection of oral histories.
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:14 am (UTC)
Wow, you really do have synchronicity with your thoughts!

(And I agree about the oral histories)

Edited at 2016-01-22 12:15 am (UTC)
Jan. 21st, 2016 07:15 pm (UTC)
What an awesome endeavor! I wish much success to them (and am sorry I live overseas :P).
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:13 am (UTC)
I know! I wish I could send you some, but... food things are complicated.
(no subject) - mnfaure - Jan. 22nd, 2016 07:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 21st, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC)
That does it. I am going to sit right down and order the January flavor of the month, Amaretto Pear.
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:12 am (UTC)

I ordered some of the traditional, just now.
Jan. 21st, 2016 09:29 pm (UTC)
What a terrific project!
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:11 am (UTC)
It's really great--I like that it's small scale but seems really effective at that scale.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:07 am (UTC)
My pleasure--the more people know, the better! So happy dudeshoes told me about it.
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:25 am (UTC)
19 years. Conditions for refugees are appalling, aren't they?
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:37 am (UTC)
Yes they are.
Jan. 22nd, 2016 05:10 am (UTC)
What a great project. Makes a note to look them up.
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:04 pm (UTC)
If you do end up ordering something, you'll be very pleased with what you get!

Or at least: I've really enjoyed the basic granola. (I haven't tried the special flavors.)
Jan. 22nd, 2016 05:51 am (UTC)
That is really awesome. Thanks for writing about it!
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:04 pm (UTC)
My pleasure--thanks for reading! (I know how much of an effort it is to type right now!)
Jan. 22nd, 2016 05:52 am (UTC)
Hey, look what's finally out.

Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:05 pm (UTC)
Excellent--I like their album cover.
Jan. 22nd, 2016 07:03 am (UTC)
This is really lovely. *makes a note for granola shopping*
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:05 pm (UTC)
Jan. 22nd, 2016 08:52 am (UTC)
It's great to read about a project so positive in so many ways! Thank you!
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:05 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome ^_^
Jan. 22nd, 2016 11:41 am (UTC)
What a great project! I hope they go from strength to strength!
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:06 pm (UTC)
I do too; right now they seem to have a very good thing going.
Jan. 22nd, 2016 11:44 am (UTC)
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:06 pm (UTC)
Jan. 22nd, 2016 06:24 pm (UTC)
They have gluten-free bars! I just sent a six pack to my Mom... she's a New Englander in exile and will appreciate the celiac-friendly taste of home. Thanks for the tip, and it's wonderful to support such a lovely group.
Jan. 24th, 2016 03:58 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm so glad this post prompted orders, and i hope your mom enjoys the bars!
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( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

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