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!

Summer, summer, festivals, festivals....

It's starting to get warm, the days are getting longer, the flowers are blooming and one's thoughts start turning to the big S.   IT'S ALMOST SUMMERTIME YOU GUYS!  After a decidedly wicked winter, this town couldn't be more ready to shed the blankets in favour of bikinis, lose the layers in favour of lakes, and throw open the windows to our summer festivals!  

Just in time for the rising temperatures comes all the lineups for a summertime of festival fun!  Looking to spend your time soaking up the sun and all the best new music too?  Look no further than your own back door!

Now, of course Sudbury has a whole slew of great festivals but us Copperworkers do have our favourites, starting with the Grandaddy of them all and Canada's longest running folk music festival - the Northern Lights Festival Boreal.  I've been going to this one for as long as I can remember and it will always hold a special place in my wee little nostalgic heart.  Back in my gypsy hippie younger days I'd leave the grounds with my heart heavy with new music and my arms heavy with flowery dresses and spangly silver bracelets.  These days, it's all about the face-painting tent (cuz my little gal can sniff out a face-painter within a 5 mile radius of her), summer afternoons in the grass and frosty treats.  I'm not much for the late nights anymore but with this year's headliner being Sarah Harmer I might make an exception.  She's always so great at this festival and hard to pass up.  Combine that with Dan Mangan and PGW and I'm already packing my wagon.

For a full list of this year's lineup click here and for tickets click here.

When you're done recovering from NLFB, air out your sleeping bags and pack for the River and Sky Music and Camping Festival.  One of the newer festivals to the area at just 7 years old, it packs just as much punch as the oldest around.  What was once a small festival that felt like it was put on just for us now draws an audience from all over the province.  There's music on the beach, music by the river, music in the trees, more bugs than I've ever seen anywhere and the some of the best bush coffee I've ever consumed.  It's a bit crowded and we never get any sleep but it's hard to beat the sense of community that comes with this festival.  Everyone is smiling, the children are dirty and the music is always second to none.  This year, the big draw for me is the Hayden.  I've seen him at a number of festivals over the years and I've yet to find a more quintessential festival experience than listening to Hayden under a starry summer sky.  Trust me, there's nothing better.  Add Black Mountain to the mix and I'm already picking out the best dress for dancing.

(and yes, I know my R&S thumbnail pic is from the old venue but it also happens to be my nostalgic favourite.  I was super pregnant and knew everyone and it felt like home)

For a full lineup click here and for tickets click here.

The newest kid on the block is of course Up Fest.  And not the one in the U.K even!  It's gonna happen right here in Sudbury for the very first time this August!  We've always pined for more public art in this city and now there's a whole festival for just that very thing.  Large scale murals happening in real time, music in the streets, big fat art installations??  Be still my arty heart!  From someone who has zero artistic ability whatsoever, I can't wait to sit back and watch it all unfold around me in our little downtown.  I think this festival means BIG things for our city and I cannot wait to take part and show my daughter what can happen when people get together to make things beautiful.

For all things Up Fest click here.


So start digging out your sunscreen and festival hats once again.  This summer is going to keep you busy and pink-cheeked right up until the leaves fall.

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