Nourish: Seattle Organizers Document Their Histories Through Family Recipes

Photo credit: Cindy Arias

Nourish is a collection of short stories, photos and recipes submitted by 10 organizers within the Seattle community. These stories are compiled into a visually appealing coffee table book, highlighting the stories of these organizers through family recipes and food.

The team behind Nourish is made up of five seniors at the University of Washington, united by their appreciation for sharing food and dedication to social justice. The five entrepreneurship students are launching the Nourish project with the support of a course offered at the Foster School of Business called Creating a Company. This course tasks students to create and run a company between Autumn and Winter Quarters. A number of successful, local businesses have been launched through Creating a Company, including Sugar + Spoon and Joe Chocolate Co.

I recently spoke with the team behind Nourish, including their motivation for launching this project and what readers can expect…

Seattleite: Why did you choose Nourish as your avenue for sharing stories from Seattle organizers?

Josh Williams, COO: We set out at the beginning of this project with the goal of fostering stronger relationships between Seattle organizers and the Seattle community. After long discussions and brainstorming sessions we decided to pursue a book about the intersection of food and organizing. Our team recognized the inherent connection between food and community. We were inspired by our memories of when we go back home to visit our families and catch up over a shared dinner. When we go out on a date, we will get to know each other over a first meal. Or when we celebrate at weddings or mourn at funerals, we will do so with food. 

For stories as important as those that our organizers have shared, we wanted to provide recipes as a way for the audience to understand the organizers and better connect over the dishes which are important to them.

Seattleite: How did the Nourish team come together?

Dionica Sy, CEO: The Nourish team is united by an appreciation for sharing food and dedication to social justice. Initially brought together by the University of Washington’s Creating a Company course, it was important to all of us that our work create an impact beyond a 10% kickback to local organizations. We wanted to be a business by and for the community. 

As we all witnessed the uprisings for racial justice and the push for social change in 2020, we wanted to create an opportunity to highlight how movement has been a part of Seattle’s history, long before it was in the spotlight. As an organizer myself, I have witnessed the stories of our movements being distorted, or altogether muted in the media and in history books. Nourish is the opportunity for organizers to document their histories through their own lens.

BIPOC youth gather to discuss demands for the City of Kent at an event hosted by ForFortyTwo this summer.

Seattleite: How did you choose the 10 organizers to spotlight in Nourish?

Dionica Sy, CEO: Through my own organizing work, I’ve had the opportunity to connect and build relationships with many amazing organizers in the Seattle area. These are people such as Kalayo Pestaño of Queer the Land, Rell Be Free formerly with WA-BLOC, and JM Wong with COVID-19 Mutual Aid. Organizing is deeply relational work, so organizers often have a wide network of comrades and co-conspirators. In choosing those to highlight in Nourish, we prioritized having a mix of folks who come from different movement spaces and work in different topics. We have folks who work in racial justice, food sovereignty, anti-violence, anti-imperialism, and so much more. Through the book, we get to see how these people and spaces are intricately connected through food. We are proud of the team we have put together and are excited to be able to share all of their stories with you.

Seattleite: Can you share a bit more about why you see food as a central piece of the movement for liberation?

Dionica Sy, CEO: We know food holds the power to unite people and communities unlike anything else. Through Nourish, we will bridge the gap between community members and organizers by sharing stories of food, movement, struggle, and liberation. Together, we hold the strength to combat inequities and create a liberated future.

One of our organizers put it into words well that “food not only nourishes the physical body, but it nourishes the soul.” As food gives us nourishment, we are given the strength to nourish our communities and our movements. Each story in Nourish will demonstrate how food is vital to the fight for social justice.

Photo Credit: Cindy Arias

Seattleite: What kind of recipes can readers expect to see in Nourish?

Sandra Li, CTO: The recipes in Nourish are either family recipes or are tied to meaningful memories and histories in the lives of our organizers. You can expect a wide range of cultures represented, and many foods you may not have tried before. We strongly encourage you to get cooking on a rainy day and try them out! Tag us in a picture of your creation on Instagram (@NourishBookSea)—we’d love to see what you’ve made.

Seattleite: You mentioned that 100% of the proceeds from Nourish will go to local Seattle organizers. Can you share a bit more about this?

Alyssa Kearns, CFO: We are very proud to say that 100% of proceeds from Nourish are donated back to the community. The organizers featured in our book have given us the names of the organizations in Seattle that they are a part of such as; COVID-19 Mututal Aid, Queer the Land, Nurturing Roots and ForFortyTwo. We will evenly split the proceeds when they are donated to the various organizations.

Pre-orders for Nourish are now available, and customers can expect their copy to arrive by February 15th. Support Seattle organizers and pre-order your copy today!