Raising butterfly babies...

So when I'm not Copperworking, I've got this sort of side project called "Milkweed for Monarchs" happening through the generous support we received from the Project Impact Initiative back in the spring.  You may remember me going on about how cool this undertaking was and all the cool little community betterment projects that came out of it.  

Anyway, so we've been spending the summer harvesting wild milkweed seeds and growing them in our greenhouses, rescuing mature milkweed plants from the side of the French River highway expansion and finding homes for all of them all over town.  People have been generously stepping up and donating yard and garden space and creating little milkweed "waystations" for the struggling Monarch butterfly population.  This plant, in case you maybe didn't know, is the only food source for the Monarch and the only plant on which they lay their eggs and they are rapidly losing this habitat due to urban expansion etc.  

We have been so pleasantly surprised with how high the demand for these beautiful plants has been and we couldn't be happier!  Everyone wants milkweed it seems!  And even happier than us has been the Monarchs!  Soon after homing plants in host yards we began getting pictures of big, fat and happy Monarch caterpillars who seemed to have moved right in and started eating.  Yay!  

We even managed to salvage some caterpillars who weren't hanging out in the best of locations and we brought them inside and reared them by hand  -- a super fun thing to do with kids AND takes the baby caterpillars out of harm's way until they cocoon.  We snapped some pics of the whole cocoon to release process (it takes about 2 weeks) and thought we'd share them here because really, it's so awesome.

Fat and happy Monarch tucked away in his chrysalis.  See the gold beads around the seam??  Seriously cool.

Fat and happy Monarch tucked away in his chrysalis.  See the gold beads around the seam??  Seriously cool.

Freshly hatched, wings still squishy!  This is the coolest part because you can watch the Monarch filling its wings with fluid and watch them get fuller and fuller.  AWESOME!

Freshly hatched, wings still squishy!  This is the coolest part because you can watch the Monarch filling its wings with fluid and watch them get fuller and fuller.  AWESOME!

Almost all filled out!

Almost all filled out!

Getting ready to say goodbye!

Getting ready to say goodbye!

Take a rest!

Take a rest!

Resting up on some milkweed before hitting the skies!

Resting up on some milkweed before hitting the skies!

Small Projects, Big Impact

We’ve been writing a lot lately about spring cleanings and season changes and fresh starts and in the spirit of that I wanted to write about the culmination of a supremely cool local initiative announced this week.

You may have already heard about the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury’s “Project Impact” but if not here’s the deal in a nutshell.  Basically CLS had a small pool of money and invited the public to both contribute to the general pool of dollars as well as submit small projects for funding.  The projects had to be focused on community improvements, environmental initiatives and lifestyle improvements and could not exceed $500.  Once everything was submitted, the community voted for the projects they wanted and the most votes won.  Plain and simple.

Now obviously I like this idea for the simple fact that these projects are all centered around making things better, or prettier or more sustainable in our community but what I also loved was this whole idea of participatory funding & budgeting.  Community members deciding how to spend a pool of public money and even contributing to the pot if they so desired.  Putting the emphasis on the people to decide how to best spend money in their own neighbourhoods, making all of us accountable for these projects in a way that I don’t know this city has really ever done before.   Also, one of the coolest thing to come out of the voting results was not only how many people voted but also how many people voted for projects that were not even earmarked for their own neighbourhoods or even their districts.  People still saw the value of a mural in Capreol even if they live in Dowling.  We so often hear about how people don’t care what happens outside of their own corner of this city but obviously we do.  We want the city to be beautiful no matter what part of it we call home.    We want kids to have beautiful parks to play in even if we don’t have kids of our own.  People recognize that projects like these serve to benefit the city as a whole,  regardless of where they take place.  If a mural is painted in Capreol, maybe someone in the South End will see it and want one in their neighbourhood.  Plant a butterfly garden in Ryan Heights and the pollinators will spread that loveliness across the city.  Show school children how to create animal sanctuaries at school and they will bring that knowledge and desire home with them. 

Beauty follows beauty. 

This summer will see all these projects come to fruition and I can’t wait to pack up my daughter and visit each one of these new sights.  We’re even going to get our hands dirty and not only get our own Project Impact inatiative up and running (more info on that in the coming weeks) but also help out some of the other projects too.   Many of these folks need volunteers to get their project done so be sure and visit the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury page and see how you can get involved too.

I can’t help but think that a similar process should be put into place for the slush funds managed by each individual city councilor.  Allowing each ward to submit ideas on how to spend that money and then having members vote on those projects would create such a sense of community as well as ownership and accountability among the citizens.  Imagine the variety of things that could be accomplished?  This project was proof that you can make a small amount of money go a very, very long way.  Especially when you consider that a lot of the projects that didn’t get CLS funding are moving ahead anyway -- projects like the Little Free Library and the yarn bombing of Alexander Public School.  People put the time into submitting these projects for consideration and so folks are still finding ways to get them done even without this funding. How’s that for building community partnerships?

Here’s hoping we can find a way to offer Project Impact every year.  Our city can only be the better for it.

For a full list of all the projects that received funding please visit the Coaliton for a Liveable Sudbury website or visit their Facebook page.  The Project Impact Facebook page can be found here.

Here's some press that we got too!

Sudbury Star - Small Projects Look to Make Big Impact in Sudbury

Northern Life - Group Funds Small Projects That Make a Big Impact

Sudbury Media Co-op -- Nine Community Projects Receive Funding



Spring Is In the Air: Time for A Home Office Reorganization

I own a little duplex. I live on one side and I rent out the other. It’s a cozy home and I love it. I love living in a smaller space because it really forces me to focus on needs rather than wants. And it means every decision has to be thought out in terms of our the space is used to maximize living space.

I mention this today, because as you know, with the launch of our turnkey office space (available to rent!), we have been working there more and at home less frequently. It’s a change I’m enjoying, as I get to spend time out of the house each day, while working from home at least a couple of hours, usually in the afternoon. With that change in working habits, I can now rethink my home office and the amount of space it takes up in my home. Something I haven’t done since moving in almost four years ago!

Basically, it’s time to convert working space into more living space!

The main floor of my home is made up of a the kitchen/dining area and then a large space of which about 2/3 is my living room and the remaining third is my home office. The room lends itself well to this layout. In the office I had:

  • Two large desks, in an “L” configuration.

  • An old cabinet joining the desks, which held my printer.

  • Two sets of three shelves on the wall, both overloaded with stuff.

  • A small rolling workstation desk, with my stereo on it, under one set of shelves.

  • Rolling file/desk drawer unit, packed full of stuff.

Might not sound like much, but I was using pretty much every square inch of space there for my office. This was going to take some effort!

I started by emptying all six shelves. I evaluated what was garbage and what needed to be kept. As a result I was able to consolidate everything on one set of shelves, with room to spare for new documents. That meant the shelves in the left corner could go. I emptied the file/drawer unit and gutted it of old documents and garbage, again freeing up much needed storage space. Then I pulled out the stereo and the printer.

After that, it was time to decide what to do with the desks. That was an easy decision. I never, or rarely, used both desks, so I tossed one out. I kept the one I had used the least so it would last me a while. That opened up a whole bunch of room. The rolling workstation shifted over beside the cabinet. I then reinstalled the stereo (on the cabinet) and the printer (on the rolling workstation).

All of a sudden 1/2 of my home office was liberated! Now I have this wonderful space, by a window that I can make into a reading nook, a meditation space, or another seating area. It’s lovely! It opens up that larger living are in a way I’ve not experienced before because it’s been mostly the same way since I moved in. The last piece of the puzzle will be to acquire a large, tall cabinet with doors one it, in which I can consolidate everything currently on the remaining shelves, the rolling desk and the small cabinet. This will liberate a little bit more room!

I’m pretty excited! It’s fun to transform something you’ve lived with for so long and refresh both yourself and an environment you spend so much time in. Now, I just have to find the perfect reading chair.