Connecting as a community over pie

February 22 2013 | Guest post by Mark Freeman
By: @joefoodieCC BY 2.0
I recently attended my first pie breakfast. I had never heard of one before, but I guess it's a thing. On a cold, winter, weekend morning everyone turns out and eats pie for breakfast. Usually, the event is a fundraiser for a local charity, school, or non-profit.

I have to admit, I kinda liked it.

Besides the obvious, eating pie for breakfast is delicious and makes us all feel a little naughty having our dessert first for our "most important meal of the day", but it was also a wonderful way to connect with neighbors and friends.

This particular breakfast was held at Hyde Park Elementary School as a fundraiser for the Partners In Education (PIE), a community group that supports the school. Half of the proceeds went to the organization for their other events, activities, and school support while the other half was donated to the Lamoille Valley Cancer Network in honor of Hyde Park alum Mackenzie Prattt who passed away from cancer a little more than two years ago.

However, the decadent desserts offered (in all fairness there were many quiches and other healthier pies as well) weren't what most moved me at this event. As I stood back, eating my third and forth slices of pie that morning, I watched the assembled pie-eaters. I watched as folks sat at the cafeteria tables in the school's gymnasium, and over a slice of pie, chatted. Caught up on what was new with each other, talked about the weather, local events, or what have you. I watched as folks smiled and laughed, others reached a caring hand and tenderly squeezed a forearm.

I watched my neighbors connect.

It's something I don't think we get the chance to do that often anymore. During this age of social media, many of us spend more time updating statuses or tweeting than we do sitting down and having a conversation. Even better, a conversation over a slice of pie. There is something inherently neighborly and folksy about ruminating over pie — something genuine.

I also thoroughly enjoyed that this event was held in our school's gym and cafeteria. As I watched moms and dads, grandparents, and children all eat and mingle I was reminded that our children do this five days a week. They sit and dine in this very room, meeting and eating with their peers. It's the not the first time, nor do I think it'll be the last that I think we can learn some enlightening lessons from our children.

However, it also reminded me that our school is the hub of our community. It is the heart that keeps the rest of our town and village alive. This was not just an event open to school families, but to the entire community. To anyone who would enjoy a piece of pie in the morning and enjoy the company and conversation with a community member.

More than anything else, our schools — our children — are the center of our towns, not just Hyde Park's. They are what gives us strength, what makes us rise in the morning, and what keep us up through the night. I cannot fathom a better example for us to teach them than by showing our children how much we value them and their education than by gathering on a cold, blustery, Saturday morning, to talk, laugh, and reconnect with each other.

And, if we can do it over a slice of pie, that much the better.

  1. Wonderful post!
    And a big Hello! from a fellow Vermonter!
    Your breakfast reminds me of several community gatherings held in the gym of our town school. We recently moved here from a town nearby and these events are such a wonderful way to interact with others in the community.

  2. Another thumbs up for the VT love. 🙂 I'm a transplant, and have found these kind of events to be a pretty sweet hallmark of the way of life in small-town Vermont. Such a nice way to bring communities together!

  3. I'd love to throw a pie breakfast in my community, which is a bit far from you lovely Vermonters… how does one pull together this kind of community-enriching event? Is it potluck pie and pay-what-you-can? I think you're so spot-on with the observation that we're somehow more and less connected when we don't have the conversation and can't reach out to squeeze a forearm, sticky with pie or not 😉

    Would love to know more…

  4. Community! That's the word I was looking for. Our mother just passed away at 87 years old. She had 12 children (all living!) and leaves behind nearly 200 direct descendants. I just finished drafting a long passionate letter to my siblings to encourage us to come together and recreate the culture of our family in our parents' memory and on our children's behalf. Community — that's the word I'm looking for. I think I'll suggest we all get together over a table laden with home-made pie. Thanks for the enticing suggestion.

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