The Impact of the Individual

Photo By: Ina Warren
Black Mountain Center for the Arts – Photo By: Ina Warren

My mantra has always been “the impact of the individual, the impact of the individual…” I have had great teachers in my life that made sure I realized that we indeed make a difference – but it’s up to us to choose if it’s a positive or negative one.

This all started with Gary Nabhan and his wonderful, heartwarming idea for Make Way for Monarchs to sponsor a “Day of Action and Contemplation” in honor of Rachel Carson on the 50th anniversary of her death on 4-14-14.

For one of my ‘actions’, I presented a Saturday afternoon public lecture at the US Forest Service Visitor Center, the Cradle Of Forestry in America, near Asheville NC.

We had a standing-room-only crowd and all were interested in monarchs, milkweeds and habitat restoration. I had permission to screen the film “A Sense of Wonder” (with Kaiulani Lee) about the last years of Ms. Carson’s life and it was shown at the close of the monarch program. It turned out to be both an educational day and a very moving one as well.

In the audience were two delightful ladies: Libba Tracy and Nina Veteto. Libba is an artist living in Black Mountain, NC. She was compelled to create a venue to help raise awareness of the plight of the monarchs’ decline she had just learned about. Nina is the founder of the new pro-active WNC non-profit called Monarch Rescue.

Libba chose the Black Mountain Center for the Arts as the venue and went straight to work planning an art show for the fall. It would also feature a public monarch program on opening night (9/18) and outreach programs for three local elementary schools for that week.

Nina tackled the huge task of teaching both the students and their teachers about the monarchs’ life cycle and of their complete dependence on milkweed as host plants and nectar flowers as adults. She lined up a few monarchs (that were “rarer-than-hen’s teeth”) to tag and release at the very visible public event. And what fun helping 250 youngsters to migrate across the streets in a small mountain town – with the help from community traffic managers too!

I was honored to give the keynote address which included, if I might say so, the loveliest, most spirited group to ever sing monarch lyrics to the tune of “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Needless to say, we could be heard singing out in the streets. 🙂

The short video below was just released and will give you a flavor of the students’ migration, their garden plantings and tagged monarch releases. But hold on to your heartstrings when you read the short poems that were written by the students. You may want to reach for a tissue first.



The event was widely advertised in the Asheville media and the three-week long art show was well attended. Beauty-full, creative expressions from thoughtful artists using multiple platform media that included photography, sculpture, oils and watercolors, fabric, batik, paper, stained glass and more.

There is more hope in the air this week for the future of monarchs thanks to the initiatives set in motion from the USFWS announcements on Feb. 9. Let’s keep the momentum going.

So how can we begin to conceive what an impact a one-hour program in your community might have–unless you try. Unless. Why not consider sponsoring a monarch conservation lecture in your neighborhood this spring? Below are several websites to may help link you with a possible presenter or help you in creating one yourself.

We must remain serious about fixing their habitat that we broke.

The impact of the individual…
The impact of the individual…
The impact of the individual…

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Read the students short poems:

Click here to read the poems
Click on the icon above


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