Food Against Fascism
For the past few weeks I've been planning, baking, and buying ingredients. I'm getting ready to do a pop up cookie cafe at Oslo Vegetarfestival and let me tell you, I am SO happy to be back in the kitchen doing what I love.
I started my baking project: Sally's Cookies last year as a fun way to do something which helps people. The point of the project is to donate the profits away to organisations which make the world a better place. Every time I sell a cookie, someone gets to eat something delicious, and they also get a good feeling from knowing that they have donated to an important cause. I see it as a non confrontational form of activism. it's a good way to inspire people and spread awareness.
As I'm getting ready to do it all again, I thought it might be cool to look back at my first event in July last year in which I raised money for an LGBTQ rights organisation; Skeiv Ungdom.
Bakes Against Hate
I was sitting in a coffee shop in Oslo one morning with my boyfriend, Nick. I had just read an article in Aftenposten about a group of neo nazis that were organising a march in Fredrikstad against what they call 'the homolobby'. The Norwegian police had given them permission to march in the city because of rules around 'free speech'. I thought about the negative impact this march will have and I was so upset.
Whilst I'm not gay myself, I'm very close to the LGBTQ community. When I was a teenager one of my friends had a very difficult experience coming out. They were afraid to be themselves, they were afraid of how they would be treated by their own family, friends and colleagues. They struggled with fear and shame for years and the trauma and bullying they experienced sadly seems to have had a lasting effect on their life. I often think of this old friend and of all the young people today who are afraid to be open about their sexuality. I think of everyone who has ever had the word 'faggot' or 'dyke' sneered at them. I think of all of the people who are scared to hold hands or kiss their partners in the street, and everyone who stays quiet about their marriage or relationship at work.
There is simply no excuse for homophobia or transphobia. It's completely unfair that LGBT people are made to experience such hate and discrimination and it's up to all of us to show them that we stand with them and that they are supported in their choice to love who they love, and be who they are.
I put my coffee down and told Nick 'I'm gonna do the opposite of what these Nazis are doing.' That was when the idea for Sally's Cookies was born. I decided that I was going to do a pop up cookie cafe and donate my profits to Skeiv Ungdom, one of the biggest LGBTQ rights organisations in Norway.
Kompass & Co
I then had a to do list as long as my arm! I made branding ideas, and sketched out my concept. I started thinking of recipes and buying equipment. I registered my website and set up Sally's Cookies as a not for profit organisation. I started to think about who I wanted to work with and then I met Sherry from Kompass & Co, a social organisation which organises environmentally focused projects to help get young people into work. They do everything from growing green rooms and roof gardens to street food and catering. We share their ethos that the most important thing we can do is help each other. I reached out to Sherry and we were both really excited about the project. I got to work with some amazing young people at Kompass & Co, I showed them my cookie recipe and we got to work baking together.
Countdown to the event
We did a little launch party and invited a bunch of friends to taste the cookies and hear about the project. We had a couple of sessions in a big kitchen in Skøyen, and we baked loads of cookies for the Pride parade. We made some batches of dough that went wrong and some that went oh so right! I was baking, and buying paper plates, and advertising the event on social media, and painting signs. It was a lot of work! Luckily I had a team of fantastic people who were by my side. Sherry was a rock, so calm and experienced, she knew exactly how to do this sort of thing and had loads of advice. Nick was there to help me with everything: baking, shopping, testing cookies (I think that was his fave way to help) and together with my friend Marte they helped me set up Sally's Cookies as a business. I had also organised the fantastic Tom Kuyken from Java to come by and make coffee, my friend Tine Katrine said she would do photography, and my friend Øystein had volunteered to DJ! On top of all that my colleagues at RiksTV and Knowit were all super supportive, sharing the event everywhere and inviting all of their friends. I could not have done the event without all of their help.
Finally the day was here. Sherry pulled up at my house in her cool food truck and we loaded up the van with boxes of cookies, decorations and supplies. We got to Youngstorget and started setting up. The youth from Kompass & Co showed up, and along with Nick, Sherry and my friend Christian, it didn't take long for us to decorate the cutest little food truck you have ever seen. People had started to form a long queue going right round Youngstorget, as Tom came with his coffee and Øystein got the party started with some music. I was pumping full of adrenaline. It was time to get this cookie cafe going!
The truck was open from 11am until 6pm. There were people buying cookies all day and we completely sold out, selling our last cookie at 5.50pm: perfect timing. Throughout the day I met some really awesome people. Some people came because they knew the Vegan Norway app and they wanted to say hello, chat about app stuff and eat some vegan cookies. Other people came because they were walking by and saw the truck and thought the project sounded really cool. Some people came to dance to the funky tunes, and some people came by to show support for the LGBTQ community. I was so happy to meet them and chat to them about their experiences and hear their thoughts on the planned neo nazi march.
Despite the fact that we were there to stick it to the nazis, there was no 'angry activist' kind of vibe at our food truck at all. The sun was shining, we were eating cookies, listening to music, and just having fun. Tine Katrine came by and took some lovely photos of the day, you can see all of them over on the Sally's Cookies facebook page.
At 6pm, we started packing up for the day. We washed every little crumb out of the van, cleared away our glittery signs, gave each other a hug, and said goodbye. I went home and collapsed on the sofa, absolutely exhausted. Later that week I sat down with the receipts, anxious to know if we had actually made any profit. I'm happy to tell you that after we paid all of our set up costs, and paid the Kompass & Co youth for their hard work, we had a nice stash of the profits left over to donate to Skeiv Ungdom! They were so happy that we raised money and awareness for LGBTQ rights, and even more inspired by the way we had gone about it.
Sally's Cookies at Oslo Vegetarfestival
Now, almost a year later, I'm back in the kitchen again. This time I am raising money and awareness for an animal sanctuary in Norway: Dale Store Gård. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks of baking, and preparing. So if you are an animal lover or just curious about these cookies that I have been going on about, you should come along to Oslo Vegetarfestival on the 26th - 27th May where you can visit Sally's Cookies yourself!