Slightly lopsided, with uneven cement grounding the stakes, it was still a rather perfect moment.
Perfect, because a man called Serugendo (coming from the Kinyarwanda word “urugendo”, meaning journey) was the one hammering our sign into the ground. He, with TWB guard, Steve, of course. Stick around TWB Headquarters for a while and you too will see – there’s a lot of hands, minds, and support in every nook and cranny.
In a lovely picture of irony, Meg and I stood back to admire the sign in front of us: “The Women’s Bakery.” After years of planning, learning, and dreaming – this idea of bread and empowerment was really happening. It has been a journey.
The weeks following the placement of our sign were full of interesting questions, calls, and chatter. Passersby were excited to understand more fully what we do – and it gave us an opportunity to explain. Our logo in our signature yellow-gold color was in a prominent place for all to see. The logo features a woman with outstretched arms, fingers held up, conveying the image of traditional Rwandan dance. This is a posture that represents the power of a cow with lengthy long-horns, and also alludes to celebration for harvest for the season of crops. When you see a dance like that, with dirt rising from the pounding of feet to earth, it’s an incredibly moving experience. It stirs a strength from within.
Because it is reminiscent of Rwandan dance, we received interesting inquiries about dancing lessons or performances that would be occurring at our office. These made us laugh and create another entry-point for what the symbol means and how it translates to what we do. We don’t teach dance, we would gently tell our friends, we teach women how to maintain a business, how to incorporate nutrition into her life, and how to bake bread. Rooted in empowerment, the woman in our logo channels all of these things.
And so, because we don’t teach dance, we are excited to share the real story behind the logo. The logo was crafted by Darsey Landoe, a graphic designer in Portland and friend of Markey.
Markey introduced me to so many people and experiences in Rwanda, and blew both my worldview and view of myself wide open. One thing that stood out to me was watching people dance at church one Sunday. Women, men, kids, all dancing and singing and banging a giant drum with an uninhibited enthusiasm. Not self-aware like Americans, but big, loud, clear, honest, true. Dancing for no one but themselves. That image is stamped hard in my memory. I want to live my life like they danced their dance that day.
When Markey asked me to do the logo for TWB, I thought back to that moment in Rwanda. Markey told me the dance the women did with their arms out was meant to literally represent cows, and metaphorically represent harvest. I didn’t want a cute logo with a loaf of bread. I wanted something with meaning. That was it.