A Brief & Partial History of Bread Uprising
Bread Uprising was an evolving project – embodying the idea of experimentation, because we were doing things in ways that we had not done before. This timeline will gives a general overview and a sense of how things evolved.
Nov. – Dec. | Noah & Tim start testing recipes and brainstorming in conversation with Tahz & Cristina of Tierra Negra Farms about doing a “food share” where households can sign up for a weekly supply of produce and bread. Tim & Noah hold a day of recipe testing at The Stone House in Mebane, NC. Our first large-scale baking: sandwich rolls for Southerners on New Ground organizing school in December. Offer bake days for Thanksgiving and December Holidays, where friends can order bread.
January | Noah & Tim create and send out “bread needs survey” to folks in their community asking: How much bread do you eat? What kinds? Where do you buy it? How much do you pay per loaf? How much would you like to pay per loaf? Overwhelming positive response from the community encourages them to do this! Complete legal & other bureaucratic paperwork to operate as a home-based bakery. Go to used restaurant supply auction to acquire a few basic supplies.
February 5th | Launch party. The bakery gets a name!
Feb – Apr | Season 1, 25 households subscribed. Begin writing a weekly ‘zine that goes out with the bread (read our very first zine here!)
April 25th | First Bakery Assembly held at the Terreiro de Arte e Cultura, where members & supporters begin a collective visioning process for the bakery. At the end of the assembly, a group of members volunteer to continue meeting monthly to draft and refine a vision statement for the bakery. That group becomes known as the Bread Team. Bakers prepared a Season 1 report.
May – Aug | Season 2, 30 households subscribed. Grain ‘N’ Greens, a food share in partnership with Tierra Negra Farms, provided 8 households with bread and produce during this time. Bread Team begins to meet monthly. Bread and storytelling workshop held as part of Combahee Survival Revival Week.
Aug – Nov | Season 3, 40 households subscribed. Major revisions of sign-up process, trying to move towards a collective process of meeting the needs of the bakers and bakery. Bakery and bakers’ needs are listed out and members sign up for specific needs. Reach out to Bread Uprising’s neighbors. We mostly stop using sugar because of concerns about ethical sourcing and kids’ health.
September 13th | Second Bakery Assembly held at SEEDS, where we officially agreed to an organizational structure (2) of the Bread Team and works teams that members can join, called “Muffins”. “Muffins” include Subscription (to handle membership re-susbcription process), Zine (to plan/edit the weekly zine), and Preserving (to gather seasonal local ingredients).
Nov 2010 – Feb 2011 | Season 4, 27 households subscribed. Bread Team decides not to try to add new members this season, and instead to devote time to studying and planning for the future. Study Sessions on Race, Class, Queerness and Bread run once/week to help us think about our membership structure and how to grow the bakery in an intentional way. We come up with new membership polices and the Bread Team comes up with an outreach plan for the next 3 seasons.
February | Our first birthday! Celebrated with a party at the bakery where members share their talents.
Feb – May | Season 5, 42 households subscribed. Major revisions of sign-up form and membership process. Current subscribers invited to invite new people in their social networks. New membership policy: membership prioritized for people who don’t have regular food access, commitment to maintain a radical majority (at least 60%) people of color households, and prioritize queer folks, working class/poor folks, and people with kids for membership. Begin writing zine and other materials in both Spanish and English because membership includes monolingual Spanish-speakers.
Jun – Aug | Season 6, 41 households subscribed. New members invited to join the bakery through organizational partnerships. Bread Team writes a vision statement (2) for the bakery! Latino Community Credit Union, of which we are a member, commissioners filmmaker Rodrigo Dorfman to create a short video documentary about Bread Uprising’s membership in the LCCU. Lead workshop on food sovereignty for the Grilled Cheese Bus/Youth Organizing Institute.
July 9th | First political education workshop – on food sovereignty.
Sep – Dec | Season 7, 41 households subscribed. Growing the bakery through neighborhood outreach. Member Javiera begins coming to bake days as a member-baker, and organizes our first full clean-up and delivery schedule. Bake for Green Space Initiative fundraiser. Zelda Lockhart approaches bakers about growing wheat on her land in Hillsborough, and we plant a trial crop.
November 6th | Fourth bakery assembly, held at the Traction/Pushback Network office. First bilingual assembly with simultaneous interpretation in Spanish and English.
Dec 2011 – Mar 2012 | Season 8, 36 households subscribed. Made some changes to our structure to create space for more member involvement, in part because of baker burnout. Pass out bread to marchers at the HK on J march in Raleigh. Bakers hold retreat and make some suggestions to make the bakery more sustainable. Bread Team decides to move towards expanding the bakery in the fall of 2012, with the goal of being able to pay the bakers consistently – important so that we can be more sustainable.
May | Fifth bakery assembly. Membership discusses what it would look like to expand the bakery this fall, and how to make it happen. Members contribute family recipes to a collective recipe card box.
Apr – Aug | Season 9, 40 households subscribed. Members who are teachers or otherwise in schools encouraged to grow the bakery by talking with students and other folks at the schools. We start a CSB season calendar that matches up better with school calendar and other holidays so bakers can have more relevant breaks. Javiera comes on officially as a baker. Bread Team, bakers, and members engage in planning for the fall expansion. Many bakery members are involved in the work of All of Us NC, challenging Amendment 1 and are featured in the documentary, All of Us NC: The Queer of Color fight against Amendment 1.
August | We launch a crowdfunding campaign on Indigogo, and raise just over $10,000 to fund expansion with a ton of community support!
Sep – Dec | Season 10, 40 households subscribed. Major focus of the bakers and Bread Team is on financial sustainability for the bakery. Begin to try out wholesale, catering, holiday bake days, festivals, selling at the Green Flea Market, and cakes. Go through hiring process for a Baker Apprentice and Mya comes on as fourth baker in November. Bakers get sick from over-work. Join the US Federation of Worker Co-operatives and hold several study sessions history and structure of co-operatives (co-ops reportback 1, 2, 3). We get lots of press coverage!
Jan – May | Season 11, 43 households subscribed. Lots of evaluation of the expansion from fall 2012, and decide to continue selling wholesale bread, with the goal of a sustainable business plan. Start renting kitchen from Bread & Butter Bakery in Chapel Hill one day/week, and baking regularly 3 days/week. Officially create an LLC structure with Tim, Javiera, and Noah as worker-owners, with the ultimate goal of using LLC structure to create a cooperative with member-owners as well. Challenging issues around gentrification and Bread Uprising’s role in partnering with gentrifying businesses sparked lots of discussion. Member Emily speaks on a panel at UNC!
May – Aug | Season 12, 43 households subscribed. Bakers shift to a structure with more time off, in order to compensate for lack of money/pay. Member Eli starts baking once/week as a volunteer to help make this possible. Vend at the Chapel Hill farmers market about once a week. Bakers and Bread Team make decision that the bakery needs to move out of Noah’s house by January, because there is not enough space. Bakers are burnt out.
Sep – Dec | Season 13, 44 households subscribed. All bakers back on payroll, and we have very little money. Hold a giant thanksgiving pie day where we bake hundreds of pies! Bakers attempt to address some challenging dynamics among team. Have several membership visioning sessions to come up with a business plan. We learn that if we want to have enough cash coming in to be financially sustainable, we’d have to expand production by 5 without increasing baker hours. We look at the options, and decide that we do not want to go through with that expansion at this point. Last zine of the last season!
January | Member assembly where the bakers share that they no longer want to continue baking. Membership decides to continue Bread Uprising as a member-driven organization, with members taking on three spheres of work: the “Cookbook” sphere to document Bread Uprising’s work thus far, the “Oven” sphere to convene member bakedays, continue to figure out how to feed each other, and host other community gatherings, and the “Game Plan” sphere to research possibly scaling back up to a commercial bakery in the future.
Feb – Dec | “Oven” sphere hosts several bake days for members to learn the Bread Uprising recipes. “Cookbook” sphere begins planning a multimedia archive website (which you are reading right now)! By the end of the year, the “cookbook” sphere seems to be the only group still meeting.
January | Hold assembly and decide to officially close Bread Uprising.