Celebrate MLK Day With P.I.E.

“Peace Includes Everyone” and everyone could use a treat right now

Whether savory or sweet, there’s something inherently communal about making and sharing pies. One homegrown organization has been organizing pie socials for more than 20 years in an attempt to facilitate neighborly conversations centered around food.

We caught up with the founder of Peace Through P.I.E. to get the backstory, and find out how to participate this weekend in advance of Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Austin Chronicle: In a nutshell, what is Peace Through P.I.E.? What's the backstory? Why pie?

Luanne Stovall, founder: During the MLK Holiday 23 years ago, I was watching a compelling documentary on the life of Dr. King, when I was swept by the urge to bake a Peace Pie. I chose Old Fashioned Buttermilk. After it cooled down, I wrote "I Have a Dream" on top. Suddenly, I was struck by the powerful link between annual holiday traditions and fundamental human values. So much more is folded into special dishes than the basic ingredients listed on the recipes. We experience peace from the inside out.

Breaking bread together provides food for the soul. This communal act helps us realize what matters most. Without our deeply symbolic foods, there would be no tantalizing aromas to anticipate, no sparkle, and no reason to gather at the table. But the relatively young MLK Holiday had yet to develop its unique culinary tradition. Fifty years ago, soon after the assassination of Dr. King, the campaign began for a federal holiday in his honor. It was not officially observed in all 50 states until 2000. My "I Have a Dream" pie became Peace Through P.I.E., a grassroots peace movement designed to help grow Dr. King's dream of beloved community. P.I.E. means Peace Includes Everyone.

In this time of tumultuous change, a hospitality-based peacemaking model is vital to our well-being. The heart of the movement is the realization that profound life meanings are woven into the food traditions that sustain us. The engine of Peace Through P.I.E. is hospitality, centered around the table and enacted to bring us together. As a recipe for peace, we can create welcome spaces to collectively work, listen, share, heal, love, and support each other. Savory or sweet Peace Pies deliver this community-building message and can represent culinary traditions from all over the world. Because peacemaking is a daily practice, we are cultivating Peace Through P.I.E. not only as January’s MLK Holiday food tradition, but as a year-round exercise in building community.

“Breaking bread together provides food for the soul. This communal act helps us realize what matters most. Without our deeply symbolic foods, there would be no tantalizing aromas to anticipate, no sparkle, and no reason to gather at the table.“ – Luanne Stovall, Founder

In 2009, the first public Peace Through P.I.E. Social took place at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church, located in Clarksville, an historic community in Austin, Texas, established in the 1870s by freed slaves. Since then, over 300 Peace Through P.I.E. Socials have been hosted in homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship across the country. On Saturday, January 13th, Sweet Home is celebrating its 10th Annual MLK Peace Through P.I.E. Social with rousing gospel music, two elementary school choirs, a pie auction benefit, and a festive banquet of Peace Pies served by high school culinary art students.

AC: Is it more important now than ever to join forces as a community, to volunteer, to give back? Why?

LS: The future is created from the choices we are making right now. For peace to exist we need the knowledge to create it, the opportunity to experience it, and the heart to share it. The spirit of P.I.E. beckons everyone to the table. We understand that peacemaking is a conscious choice and a life-long process, and a community-wide effort. Together, we can summon the wisdom to transform difficult challenges into new opportunities. We grow the MLK Holiday into an uplifting celebration of the human spirit. We, too, can Dream Big. It’s P.I.E. Time.

AC: How can people get involved?

LS: Anyone, anywhere can choose to host a Peace Through P.I.E. Social at home, at school, at work, or in the community. Peace Through P.I.E. Socials can be hosted to celebrate the MLK Holiday spirit of community or anytime of the year.

Peace Through P.I.E. partners with schools, businesses, community groups, nonprofit organizations to help sponsor our programs, provide resources for the organization, and grow the movement.

Here's some info on a few upcoming Peace Through P.I.E. events (all free and open to the public), but please see their website for more details and to RSVP.

Sat., Jan. 13, 1:30-4:30pm

10th Annual Sweet Home MLK Peace Through P.I.E. Social

Location: 1725 W. 11th

Program & Music (1:30-3pm) – Pease Elementary Bobcat Singers, Mathews Elementary Art & Choir, and music from gospel stars Sam Rives & Poplar Favorites

Pie Social & Pie Auction (3-4:30pm) – A beautiful banquet of “Peace Pies” by community pie bakers will be served in Fellowship Hall by Austin High School Culinary students with the requisite "à la mode" donated by Blue Bell Ice Cream. The event also includes a silent Pie auction with funds supporting renovations of the historic structure in (Clarksville) Austin, Texas.

Bring: A Peace Pie to share or a Pie for the silent auction. Let us know at shc@peacethroughpie.org

RSVP here

Sun., Jan. 14, noon-1pm

St. James Episcopal Church

Location: Fellowship Hall, 1941 Webberville Rd.

Join us to celebrate our 9th Annual Peace Through P.I.E. Social celebrating the MLK spirit of Beloved Community. Come share Peace Pies served by the Youth group and be part of our Peace Pie Auction benefiting the Youth Group and community needs. Celebrations will take place in Fellowship Hall, immediately following the 10:15 service.

Thu., Jan. 18, 4:45-6pm

2nd Annual Cedar Ridge Community P.I.E. Social (organized by chef Rob McDonald)

Location: 2801 Gattis School Rd., Round Rock

About: Students share their Peace Pies (ANY food from their home/family/heritage) and their P.I.E. Stories (provide meaningful insights about their lives).

Mon., Jan. 22, 6-7pm

Lamar Middle School P.I.E. Social

Location: Lamar Cafeteria, 6201 Wynona

About: Come share Peace Pies and commUnity with students, staff, and families, with song, dance, poetry and performances by our performing arts students. This is a No Place for Hate event.

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