With Age, Comes Wisdom: Happy Birthday, Women’s Bean Project!

Happy 30th Birthday, Women’s Bean Project!

Throughout this year we will celebrate 30 years since Women’s Bean Project came to be. Anniversaries are funny things. We tend to use them to look back, marvel at what has changed, what’s the same and then forecast what’s to come. Anniversaries remind us of important events and what matters to us. They are a chance to reflect, come together, and honor a shared history. Anniversaries are such a big deal that they even have precious items associated with them.

Thirty Years is the Pearl Anniversary

Pearls are made when small grains of sand or grit are washed into an oyster shell. In its own defense, the oyster begins to form a protective coating around the irritant, resulting in a beautiful pearl. I’m struck by what an apt analogy pearl formation is for the women who come to the Bean Project. By the time the women arrive to work with us, they have experienced plenty of irritants and it is time to begin to form their protective coating and overcome their barriers to employment so they can move on to being beautiful, self-sufficient pearls.

Pearls symbolize wisdom acquired through experience. In our 30 years of experience as a human services social enterprise, we have certainly acquired a lot of knowledge, and hopefully some wisdom as well. As part of honoring our history, this year we will share our lessons learned over the past 30 years. Over the next several months we will share our Pearls: lessons learned on our 30 year journey, a retrospective on how Women’s Bean Project has learned, adapted and thrived since 1989.

Women’s Bean Project Began in 1989 with just $500 and a Determined Founder

In 1989 we were born out of an idea formed by Jossy Eyre, who was troubled by the hopelessness she saw in women struggling to break the cycle of chronic unemployment and poverty in which they were caught. From little research and a lot of determination, $500 of beans and two women wanting to work, Women’s Bean Project emerged. Our first product, Toni’s Ten Bean Soup, is still our best seller today, a testament to the foresight of our founder. This is just one of many stories that has shaped us, and we are looking forward to sharing them and engaging all of you in the myriad activities we have planned.

I am excited to celebrate this anniversary. It is hard to believe that I have been present for more than half of the Bean Project’s history and have learned along with the company. And yet, I admit to hoping that the work we do today is so effective and far-reaching that in 30 more years Women’s Bean Project will be unnecessary. In other words, we won’t be serving the next generation. Hopefully the lessons we’ve learned in the past 30 years will make this possible.

It is my honor to recognize the important role played in our history by the women we’ve served, all the staff members who have served them and the community that has helped to ensure the Bean Project can continue its work. Thank you for all you’ve done to help us reach this milestone. Happy birthday Women’s Bean Project!


Tamra Ryan, CEO, Women’s Bean Project

What Else Happened in 1989? Glad You Asked!

  • The Berlin Wall was dismantled
  • Tiananmen Square demonstrations and massacre took place
  • In Egypt, a 4,400-year-old mummy was found in the Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Microsoft introduced its Office suite of products
  • Nintendo introduced its GameBoy
  • The first GPD satellite launched into space
  • Taylor Swift was born, and so was the World Wide Web




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