Baking for Change: How I channeled my frustration and raised $1,000 for women’s health
I have never been very active in politics. I attribute this to an equal mixture of lack of interest, lack of understanding, and honestly, pure laziness. And on November 8, 2016 when I was blindsided by the results of the election it became disturbingly clear that much of my “lack of interest” was actually more like a “lack of needing to be interested,” and this lackadaisical attitude fit nice and comfortably under an umbrella I carry around with me all the time also known as “privilege.” A privilege I have been taking advantage of my entire life. And that, my friends, is a much larger topic that I can’t begin to scratch the surface of solving in this humble prose, but nonetheless, this election was the catalyst to make me realize it was time I needed to be doing something more.
“We should go to DC and march inauguration weekend.” I said to my husband, expecting him to respond with something very rational like a, “yeah, you’re freaking crazy” kinda response only your one true love can give you. Instead, we sat on the couch together and booked airline tickets and a very overpriced hotel room. We had no confirmed childcare plans for our kids we wouldn’t be bringing, no idea what exactly any of this was going to look like, nor how we were going to get from point A to point B. But we were going. We were doing something.
Despite this very large (and expensive) gesture, it still didn’t seem like it was enough. I still needed to do something more with all the frustration and anger I was experiencing. So, with the help of my sister, Jessie, we came up with a plan. What better way to deal with our feelings than to eat them? AMIRIGHT?
We started a project called “Protest Pies.” The goal was to make 10 pies between the two of us and sell them for $20 a pie and make a $200 donation to Planned Parenthood. We chose Planned Parenthood for many reasons. In 2010, while getting her undergraduate degree in Public Health, Jessie interned for Planned Parenthood teaching sexual health to middle school students across Los Angeles County. Aside from being awarded the privilege of making an impression on such a special age group, Jessie says she loved the support she received both personally and professionally by the Planned Parenthood staff. She maintains relationships with her supervisors to this day. In Jessie’s words, that short internship was “one of the few positions I held where I went home every night feeling good about myself, my work, and my ability to create positive change.”
For both of us, Planned Parenthood is the exact opposite of the giant roundhouse kick to the uterus that was this election. Planned Parenthood is an organization that provides women with necessary and affordable health care services, preventive screenings, education, and affordable access to birth control. It is a place that fully supports a woman to be the one who makes her own decisions about her health, her body, and her future. It is a place that works tirelessly for the women and families of this country in the face of constant opposition from so many leaders in our government — leaders who do not understand or even seem to want to understand what it actually means to be a woman. And as I looked into the eyes of my daughter, who deserves to be afforded total and complete control over own reproductive rights when she grows up, the choice was clear: we had to support Planned Parenthood in our efforts.
We even came up with catchy names for our menu choices, including “This Is Bananas Cream Pie,” “Hill Yes Apple,” and our most popular flavor, “My Cherry, My Choice.” It was also something I could easily and reasonably do at home with the “help” of my young children who begrudgingly responded to each project with, “I bet this also isn’t a pie for us to eat, is it, Mom?” Nope, sorry kids. This is a pie of change! (Don’t worry, when all the pies were made and delivered, I baked our family our very own “My Cherry, My Choice,” of which my 3-year-old took one bite and told me she would rather have a store-bought cookie, which came as no surprise to anyone in our family.)
It was a lot of flour, butter and sugar, all of which I now realize I should have bought in bulk at the beginning of this whole thing. It was also a lot of work. But each time I sliced apples, macerated cherries or rolled out another crust, I felt like I was baking little bits of positivity into the universe. My pies made people smile, and laugh. They shared them with their friends and neighbors. They shared them with their conservative family members at the holidays. They connected me to people in my community and reconnected me with friends I hadn’t seen in years. And donation money aside, maybe bringing a little bit of joy and light into the darkness can start things moving in the right direction. And yes, I know what you are thinking: getting in there and really kneading that pie crust is a good way to work out some of the emotions this election has surfaced! And to you I say, “Are you crazy?!?! Never knead a pie crust, you fool!”
Before we knew it, our $200 turned into $1000. It was more than we ever anticipated, yet still feels so humble compared to the priceless services Planned Parenthood provides. When we announced the project there were a lot of suggestions about whose name we would be making the donation in. There was more than one request to make the donation in the name of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. I would be lying if I didn’t consider it. In my opinion, “Periods for Pence” was one of the most brilliant and genius moves by women I have ever seen. I have yet to find something that makes me more giddy than women calling and tweeting the then-governor directly to discuss their breast tenderness, vaginal dryness, or day two of period clotting.
But in the end I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t justify making a donation in his name simply to be snarky. Doing this, to me, would simply minimize the many people who genuinely supported my effort to make a difference and will hopefully continue to support and protect Planned Parenthood in the future. Unless Pence proves me wrong, I don’t think bogus donations in his name are going to do anything other than make him fight even harder to strip women of their rights.
But I think in the end, the reason for making the donation in the names of our supporters was inspired by the words of my forever hero, the incomparable Michelle Obama, when she so famously said, “When they go low, we go high.” If there is one thing this election made very clear, it’s that it’s much, much easier to go low. Low is an attention grabber; it’s juicy and salacious. It is a bully. And even though it appears the bully won this round, I still refuse to go low. I will continue to do my best to live by her words and I will go high. Or in this case, I will go “pie.”
(It was with great honor that on behalf of, Marissa DeLory, Katie Woodruff, Katherine Greenburg, Jennifer Graham, Elisa Mott Jones and Lewis Jones, Casey and Troy Souza, Craig Burdsall, Meghan Walsh, Allegra Hill and Gerry Doot, Justin Badger, Sean Alexander, Michelle Thakur, Brittaney and Ryan Meyer, Tina Phan, Matthew Grow, Elke O’Neil, Matt Palazzolo, Jillian Valdez, Fabienne Maurer, Nicole Hunter-Maes and James Maes, Brett Foreman and Corina Hernandez, Darren White and Robert Rankin, Colleen Trujillo, Bob and Joy Blair, and Andrea and Kevin Caldwell, we were able to donate $1,000 to Planned Parenthood.)