Pie-o-Neers for Peace

Peace Through Pie initiative going forward one school at a time

Mike Erickson (in white jacket) with students in his culinary class at Connally High School
Mike Erickson (in white jacket) with students in his culinary class at Connally High School (Photo by John Anderson)

When we first wrote about art instructor Luanne Stovall's Dream Pie social initiative in connection with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there was no way to know how, or even whether, an actual movement might take shape. After all, Stovall began with the humble concept of attaching a food tradition to the holiday, serving up pies whose round shape and diverse fillings signified inclusion to friends in her own apartment. After her move to Austin, Stovall was determined to expand her concept and co-hosted Austin's first Dream Pie Social at the historic Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in the Clarksville neighborhood in January of 2009. The Rev. Steve Manning welcomed guests to the church's fellowship hall, where school children recited Dr. King's immortal "I Have a Dream" speech. Guests were encouraged to share their personal pie memories at an oral history booth, and a silent auction of donated pies raised money for a much-needed handicapped access ramp for the old church. There have since been a couple of pie socials as part of the festivities after the MLK Day March, and Sweet Home Baptist Church continues to hold pie socials before the King holiday every January, as do some other churches (see calendar). Stovall's movement, however, has a somewhat new direction and focus since receiving official 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2012.

What was initially known as ServeaDream.org is now PeaceThroughPie.org, and Sto­vall reports that the focus is on "cultivating Pie-o-Neers for Peace, a program dedicated to schools and youth groups, aligned with the Anti-Defamation League's No Place for Hate pro­gram, providing curriculum to participating school campuses." Indeed, the new program kicked off in January 2012 when the Travis High School Institute of Hos­pi­tal­ity and Culinary Arts hosted a Pie-o-Neers for Peace pie social with the students from Connally High School's culinary program as their guests. This year, both culinary programs are hosting their own pie socials as activities that help their schools qualify as official "No Place for Hate" campuses, inviting their parents and fellow students to a community gathering around pie. Here's what we know about their plans.

John B. Connally High School

13212 N. Lamar
Friday, Jan. 18, 6-7pm

This social is a districtwide No Place for Hate activity, so chef instructor Mike Erick­son's students, Connally's nutrition students, and the kids who work in Connally's Cougars Catering spent more than a week making pies in anticipation of hosting 500 people at the school cafeteria. Students, teachers, parents, and members of the community are invited to bring pies and/or contribute pie recipes to a community cookbook that will raise funds for the culinary program. There will be musical entertainment and an oral history booth.

Connally High senior Jaleun Foster holds the <i>timpano</i> inspired by the Italian part of his heritage.
Connally High senior Jaleun Foster holds the timpano inspired by the Italian part of his heritage.

Because there are 30 different ethnic groups represented in Connally's student body, chef Erickson made sure his pie curriculum focused on all of the diverse dishes that can be considered pie – be that a classic banana cream pie, an empanada, a samosa, a pastelito, or a pizza. "Last year, one of our students whose parents are from Italy made a timpano and just knocked everyone out, [it] really expanded their ideas about what a pie can be. We're looking for more of that this year," Erickson told us.

Travis High School Institute of Hospitality & Culinary Arts

1211 E. Oltorf
Friday, Jan. 25, 3-4:15pm

Chef instructor Rob McDonald and nutrition teacher Leni Gillespie will be instructing their respective students in the art of pie making during the coming week, as the kids prepare pies to serve at a party for students and parents in the school cafeteria. Party decorations will include a giant "No Place for Hate" banner and a collage of pie wedges where students have signed the official Pie-o-Neer for Peace pledge that reads: "We come together to share pie and listen to each other's stories, hopes, and dreams. We learn to recognize and cultivate the ingredients of friendship, community, and peace. And together, we build more supportive and peaceful communities, one piece at a time."

Student musicians from the Guitar Club and the Mariachi Club will provide entertainment, and student videographers will document the event. Special guests, who will share information about diversity and community building through pie, include Bud Royer, owner of Royers Round Top Cafe; native Austinite and restaurateur Hoover Alexander of Hoover's Cooking; and Home Slice Pizza's senior kitchen manager, Phil Korshak.

Pie Social Calendar

Pie-o-Neers for Peace

Sweet Home Peace Through Pie Social

Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church
1725 W. 11th
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2-4pm

This historic church is the cornerstone of the Peace Through Pie movement, and they invite you to bring a pie and a pie story to share at their fifth annual event. There will be music and a program in the sanctuary, followed by pie in the fellowship hall and an Art of Peace exhibition by students from Mathews Elementary.

America's Sunday Supper and Peace Through Pie Social

Trinity United Methodist Church
4001 Speedway
Sunday, Jan. 20, 6-7:30pm

TUMC and community partners host their second annual Peace Through Pie social as part of America's Sunday Supper. They invite people of diverse backgrounds to share a meal and discuss issues that affect the community. This year's social will include focused conversation on the issue of immigration.

Pie Auction and MLK Day Social

St. James' Episcopal Church
1941 Webberville Rd.
Sunday, Jan. 20, 11:30am

The third annual social will begin immediately after the morning service and will feature live and silent auctions of pies made by St. James' Phenomenal Women's group to benefit the St. James' youth group and choir.

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