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Comfort Food for the Soul

Trish Brigham's creative P.I.E. pins fund donations to progressive institutions

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They were all sitting around the lunch table, feeling blue. It was the day after Donald J. Trump had been elected president of the United States of America. Trish Brigham was eating what she always eats for a midday meal: pie. This one was a slice of blueberry, topped off with fruit and yogurt. A colleague at the retail shop where she works started talking about lapel pins and how they’re becoming a must-have accessory in the fashion world. Trish took another bite of pie. The clouds parted. “It just came to me,’’ she says. “Pie and pin.”

A nonprofit with a social justice mission was born – Progress Includes Everyone, or P.I.E. “Be American. Love P.I.E.,” is the all-female group’s slogan. The pins are adorable. They are emblazoned with an illustration of a pie, and there’s a little heart sign above the “I.” They cost $8 apiece and come with a recipe card that offers as ingredients these wise words: a heap of open mindedness; a spoonful of kindness; a dash of tolerance; a smidge of patience; and a pinch of respect. Translation: Qualities our new president does not possess.

So far, Trish and her co-workers have sold about 800 pins, mostly through word of mouth and their website, TheProgressPie.com, a feast for the eyes, what with all those photos of freshly baked pies with their crispy crusts. The women hope to sell more pins, and my hunch is they will. Their idea is clever and affordable and provides those of us opposed to Trump’s views an opportunity to protest in a subtle way on a daily basis. Lapel pins go with everything.

Trump is inspiring closet activists to step into the public arena, guns blazing. They’re making posters, protesting at State Houses, speaking out on social media and conveying their concerns to lawmakers. A revolution is stirring.

Trish lives in the great state of Maine, where she works as the finance and human resources manager of a shop in Portland called K Colette. She’s excited about the project and feels in her small way that she’s speaking out about what she sees as a very troubled administration. She says she fears that Trump will start messing with topics and issues that she treasures: women’s rights; human rights; environmental protection; and immigration laws.

With that in mind, all profits from pin sales are donated to four groups: Planned Parenthood; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the International Refugee Assistance Project; and the American Civil Liberties Union. Writing checks for these groups, she says, makes her feel like she’s doing something positive “at a time in our country when there’s a lot of divisiveness.”

The recipe card that comes with her pin is more succinct: “For a future that is peaceful, hopeful and healthy blend open mindedness, kindness, tolerance, patience and respect for one another and our environment. Be prepared for challenges. Be prepared to feel empowered. Work together and learn from each other for change that is sustainable and inclusive. To progress, we need everyone.” Amen.

Trish even wore a pin – on her pink hat – to the Women’s March in Washington, DC a few months ago. The pins were a hit. She gave away lots of them in hopes of starting a movement. “People love them,” she says. I certainly do. It’s also worth mentioning that the pins are made in the USA at a small manufacturing company in Vermont, another great state.

If you’re in Portland, stop by K Colette to check out the product. You can also buy pins through TheProgressPie.com and by emailing Brigham at PBrigham@Maine.RR.com. Trish has no idea where this project will take her, or how far it will go, but she’s sleeping a bit easier knowing that she’s doing something, anything, to voice her discontent.

“We’re small, but we want to keep going,’’ she says. “We’ve got to get the message out in this country that we have to work together. It’s going to be a challenge, but we have no other option.’’

Elizabeth Rau can be reached at ERau1@verizon.net.