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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.


Comments

( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
queenoftheskies
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.
asakiyume
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:16 am (UTC)
It is really delicious stuff--they will love it.
oiktirmos
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.
asakiyume
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)
mnfaure
Jan. 21st, 2016 07:15 pm (UTC)
What an awesome endeavor! I wish much success to them (and am sorry I live overseas :P).
asakiyume
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:13 am (UTC)
I know! I wish I could send you some, but... food things are complicated.
mnfaure
Jan. 22nd, 2016 07:34 am (UTC)
Very complicated. But I appreciate your caring thoughts. :D
dudeshoes
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.
asakiyume
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:12 am (UTC)
:-)

I ordered some of the traditional, just now.
sartorias
Jan. 21st, 2016 09:29 pm (UTC)
What a terrific project!
asakiyume
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)
asakiyume
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:07 am (UTC)
My pleasure--the more people know, the better! So happy dudeshoes told me about it.
yamamanama
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:25 am (UTC)
19 years. Conditions for refugees are appalling, aren't they?
asakiyume
Jan. 22nd, 2016 12:37 am (UTC)
Yes they are.
zyzyly
Jan. 22nd, 2016 05:10 am (UTC)
What a great project. Makes a note to look them up.
asakiyume
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.)
stormdog
Jan. 22nd, 2016 05:51 am (UTC)
That is really awesome. Thanks for writing about it!
asakiyume
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!)
yamamanama
Jan. 22nd, 2016 05:52 am (UTC)
Hey, look what's finally out.

http://atlaslab.bandcamp.com/
asakiyume
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:05 pm (UTC)
Excellent--I like their album cover.
browngirl
Jan. 22nd, 2016 07:03 am (UTC)
This is really lovely. *makes a note for granola shopping*
asakiyume
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:05 pm (UTC)
Enjoy!
heliopausa
Jan. 22nd, 2016 08:52 am (UTC)
It's great to read about a project so positive in so many ways! Thank you!
asakiyume
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:05 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome ^_^
azdak
Jan. 22nd, 2016 11:41 am (UTC)
What a great project! I hope they go from strength to strength!
asakiyume
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:06 pm (UTC)
I do too; right now they seem to have a very good thing going.
wuweibaby
Jan. 22nd, 2016 11:44 am (UTC)
*lovelovelove*
asakiyume
Jan. 22nd, 2016 03:06 pm (UTC)
:-)
thewronghands
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.
asakiyume
Jan. 24th, 2016 03:58 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm so glad this post prompted orders, and i hope your mom enjoys the bars!
Anne Dombrofski
Jan. 27th, 2016 04:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
We at the PGP are so grateful you've spread the word about making granola to hire refugees, and that you've shared granola around with friends and family. And thank you to everyone who went ahead and ordered some granola based on this amazing endorsement. Clearly, we couldn't have said it better ourselves! We hope you all enjoyed a little taste of refugee hospitality. The more you order, the more the granola they get to make, preparing for their first US jobs.
Our only regret is that we can't tell who dudeshoes is. If you don't mind telling us, please email me at: anned@beautifuldayri.org. We'd also love to share this post with our 1,000 monthly e-news readers. Thanks again!
asakiyume
Jan. 27th, 2016 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you!
Please do share the post! That would make me very happy :-)

And I'll email you with dudeshoes's identity. She's a big fan too.
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

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