Restructuring (Spring 2014 Letter to B.U. Community)

May 2014

Dear friends, family, supporters, comrades, and customers of Bread Uprising,

February marked our 4th birthday! You have done so much to support Bread Uprising over the past four and a half years, and our appreciation for that runs deep. We are writing to update our community on some big changes taking place at Bread Uprising.

In January and February, the current membership began to plan for Bread Uprising’s future. We have entered a new phase and are excited for the possibilities of where we might go next. Bread Uprising membership has held two assemblies so far to discuss our options for moving forward.

What we know:

  • Our organizational structure is shifting from one where a paid baker team held a lot of the work, supported by members, to one where members holds a lot of the work collectively.
  • At this time, we are not baking regularly. We have suspended our subscription and wholesale baking for the time being. We have begun holding small bake days in various homes. See below for some pictures from our community bake days earlier this year.
  • Our physical space is in transition. The last day of baking at Noah’s house was in December.
  • We have organized ourselves into three “spheres” of work as we move forward.
    • Community Gatherings  (“The Oven”) – This sphere is planning and organizing gatherings such as community meals/potlucks, teaching & learning from each other how to bake bread and other yummies, hosting food justice discussions, and more.
    • Institutional Memory (“The Cookbook”) – This sphere is documenting various aspects of the bakery, such as recipes, the subscription program, the re-subscription process, study groups, and more. This documentation could help us with future work or could help others replicate the Bread Uprising model.
    • Timeline/Space/Fund/Logistics (“The Game Plan”) –  This sphere will plan a timeline, research potential kitchen space, explore fundraising options, and work towards baking bread collectively to meet the needs of our community.

How we got to this point:

As you know, we have always been a community project that is membership-based and mission-driven. Our missionis tobake nourishing, thoughtfully sourced food that is accessible and affordable to support our community, provide jobs with dignity, build alternatives to capitalism, and grow collective power. As of December we had four baker-members and 45 household-members who receive bread and make decisions about bakery happenings.

Throughout our four-year existence, we have often found it difficult to balance financial stability with key elements of our mission, such as providing living wage jobs. We have never been able to pay a living wage to bakers, and our bakers who are worker-owners usually earned the equivalent of less than minimum wage. In the fall of 2012, we launched a campaign to expand with the goal of being able to pay a living wage to bakers. We grew from 3 to 4 bakers, started doing markets, festivals, special order cakes, and catering, and began to sell bread wholesale. The expansion has been an amazing experience in many ways, challenging and at times exhausting, and we have learned a lot.

In November and December, our membership engaged in a business planning process. Our goal was to draw from our experiences to create a viable business plan that would be in line with our mission, including paying a living wage to bakers. We determined that this is in large part a matter of scale, and among other things would require expanding our operation to five times our current scope without adding a significant amount of staff time. In 2013 we brought in about $40,000, so we would need to bring in $200,000 for the expansion. After reflection, the bakers determined they did not want to carry out this plan at this time for a variety of reasons, including capacity and burnout, as well as different priorities for baking, political work, and time. At that point, the bakers decided to take a break from all operations in order to give the full membership time to make decisions about next steps.

We continue to believe so strongly in Bread Uprising’s mission and vision, and we continue to learn from what we have done and allow our work to shift and change – something that has often been one of Bread Uprising’s strengths. We continue to be a community-driven project – in fact, in these past few months we have made a shift back to being member-based, away from being baker-focused. Thanks for all of your support over the years. We will keep folks updated as we move forward.

The Bread Uprising email address (breaduprising@resist.ca) is still being checked by bakery members, and you are welcome to contact us there.

In gratitude and solidarity and on behalf of Bread Uprising members,

The Bakers:

Javiera Caballero
Mya Hunter
Noah Rubin-Blose
Tim Stallmann

Members of The Cookbook Sphere:

Mariana Aldridge
Beth Bruch
Thaddaeus Edwards
Francesca Hyatt
Anthony Maglione

From left to right: Beth, Kriti, and Tim kneading dough.

From left to right: Beth, Kriti, and Tim kneading dough.

 

Jes mixing flour for the dough.

Jes mixing flour for the dough.