Bread Houses Network - Inclusive community bakeries
Sofia and other cities
Type of Information
Bread Houses Network Program
Nadia Nikova (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
The Bread Houses Network - BHN is an organisation that has created various innovative methods of community learning mixing bakery with several art forms, which have proven to be innovative forms of art therapy for trauma, career guidance, team building, Emotional Intelligence Education, etc. Many of its "Bread Therapy" activities are attended by migrants and refugees.
The Bread Houses Network is part of the International Council for Cultural Centers, uniting more than 50 countries from 5 continents.
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
Initially part of cultural center Chitalishte in Gabrovo, the Bread House became an independent social enterprise in 2014, when it grew into a community bakery where people engage with art. The Bulgarian initiative by anthropologist Nadezhda Grigorova has quickly expanded to the rest of the world to become an international Bread House Network.
BHN’s therapy methods aim to help people transform their communities and imagine solutions for social issues, by seeing problems through the entertaining but analytical tools of theater and story-telling while baking bread.
In Bread Houses, people of all ages and backgrounds come together to bake bread in traditional fire ovens and to experience bread not only as a food, but also as an instrument of art, therapy, education and political dialogue. The network organises artistic community baking events for intercultural dialogue with migrants and refugees, school children, as well as people with disability or special needs.
How does it work
Among the numerous projects and programmes set up by the Network, one particularly highlights the contribution of refugees, as during Ovens for Peace activities, refugees share their bread-making traditions with locals.
BHN methods are summarised in a non-competitive educational game called "Bakers Without Borders" which uses bread as a universal symbol of sharing and can serve as a model for social entrepreneurship, creativity, curiosity toward foreign cultures or lifelong learning. It includes three board games:
- Play Theater of Crumbs, where participants make objects and figurines out of dough or draw stories in the flower. It is suited for educational activities or teambuilding.
- Build a Bread House is a cooperative strategic game that inspires people to become social entrepreneurs.
- Become Bakers without Borders invites to travel around the world. Choices participants make create lyrics for a song that should be played with tableware. This "Kitchen Music" is a tool to practice spontaneity.
The Game can be purchased to be played privately and profits are used to organise activities in community Bread Houses where people with different backgrounds, including those with disability or trauma come together.
Since its inception, more than 20 Bulgarian cities and more than 15 countries have been inspired by the model and have developed local initiatives which are part of the Bread Houses Network or are currently doing so. The network and its initiator have often been covered in the media and highlighted in conferences worldwide.
The Bakers Without Borders game is on of 10 global grassroots projects selected for the Intercultural Innovation Award 2016 by United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and BMW AG. It was awarded for enhancing intercultural awareness and migrant integration.
The Bread Houses Network has been evaluated for this award but also studied in several academic publications.
Who will benefit?
Beneficiaries are all participants who not only learn how to make bread but also gain intercultural competences, work on teamwork skills or practice creativity. Groups include migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, among others.