Essex National Heritage is celebrating their 20th anniversary. To mark this special occasion, Essex Heritage is recognizing organizations and people that make the Essex National Heritage Area (Essex County) so exceptional and I have been nominated!
Kim Smith Designs is nominated as an Essex Heritage Trailblazer in the second category, Connecting People to Place. The 130 nominees are all stellar and most are businesses and very large organizations, for example, the Peabody Essex Museum, Mass Audubon (statewide), and Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, so it is really quite an honor to be nominated.
The voting process is very simple, you don’t have to provide your email address or any other personal information. Please vote for me, in the center column, halfway down in the second category, Connecting People to Place. Here is the link to vote: surveymonkey.com/r/TrailblazersVote. Voting ends soon, on March 14th, so please vote today. And please share with your friends.
Please join me tonight at 7pm at the Sea Spray Garden Club where I will be giving my “Habitat Garden” workshop and screening several short films. This event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!
I am looking forward to presenting the “Pollinator Garden” program for the Winter Garden Club of Marblehead on the morning of October 4th. On October 17th. I am the guest speaker for the Sharon Garden Club and will be presenting the lecture “Beauty on the Wing; Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly.” For more information please visit the Events Page of my website.
I am currently booking programs for 2016-2017-2018 and would be delighted to present to your club, library, school, and private or public event. See the Programs Page of my website and feel free to contact me at email@example.com with any questions.
Read what Mim Frost, the Program Chair for the Ipswich Town and Country Garden Club, had to say about the Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly film and program that I recently gave to her club:
How often does something you’ve looked forward to for a long time live up to your expectations? Not often. But last night at Ebsco your presentation, including your film, your comments and your Q&A were just about perfect in my book! I’ll smile as I remember the evening.
I liked having the trailer for the monarch film first. You gave the group something to look forward to. Jesse Cook’s music is an excellent choice, I think. I drum to his music often. I was pleased with the questions and with your answers. It’s obvious you’ve done a lot of research. The way you answered questions made the group comfortable. Very nice! And the film. What can I say. I’d seen clips, but seeing the whole thing was something I won’t forget. I especially liked your reference to other butterflies and your comparison of the swallowtail with the monarch. Liv’s voice was just right for the commentary!
I know from experience that the presenter is the harshest critic of the presentation. I hope you were feeling pleased with your work last night. I’d be happy to repeat the whole evening!
All the best to you,
Writing proposals and organizing the film’s website this past week. This is a longer version of the synopsis. Oh my goodness, the last application was ten pages long. I think (hope) it will get easier the more I do it!
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Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly is a documentary film that tells the story of the monarch butterfly at it unfolds along the shores of Cape Ann and in the heart of Mexico’s forested volcanic mountains. Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts and Angangueo, Michoacán, the film illuminates how two communities, separated by 3,000 miles, are ecologically interconnected.
Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from egg to caterpillar to adult. Set against the background of sea and forest, sun and wind, by the millions and millions the intrepid monarchs journey thousands of miles. The most magical thing is that this migration happens in our midst, taking place in backyards, farms, meadows, and along the shoreline, wherever milkweed and wildflowers grow.
The monarch’s life story is one of nature’s most incredible examples of adaptation and survival. There are no other butterflies in the world that journey thousands of miles over such a great and vast area, ecologically linking Canada and Mexico, to nearly every region within the United States.
The story opens in the industrial port of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Well known for her legendary fishing industry, Schooner Festival, Italian feasts and fiestas, rich artistic heritage, and stunning coastline, Gloucester makes up much of the peninsula of Cape Ann, located on the coast of Massachusetts just north of Boston.
As are most regions along the length of the Eastern Seaboard, Cape Ann lies within a largely unrestricted north-south corridor for migratory species of birds and butterflies. This means that birds, butterflies, and other insects travel along the Atlantic flyway without being impeded by either mountain ranges or large bodies of water to cross. There is a tremendous sense of urgency in this great movement of life. Whether traveling by land or by sea, wildlife must reach its seasonal destination while life-sustaining food is abundant.
Cape Ann and Angangueo emerge as characters in the film, places where we have much to gain by preserving the habitats of these unique ecosystems and where, through neglect, the loss will be devastating.
Beauty on the Wing is a film for all ages, created for all to gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between habitats, wildflowers, and pollinators, and the vital role that they play in our interconnected ecosystems.
In seeking funding to finish the film, I am currently in the process of writing grant proposals. Recently, I was invited to join the Filmmakers Collaborative, which is a dynamic organization that is providing excellent advice and will also act as the fiscal sponsor for the film. Each filmmaker represented by the Filmmakers Collaborative has a project page on the FC website and I invite you to visit mine here: Filmmakers Collaborative.
I am super excited to write that today I am launching the trailer for my monarch butterfly documentary, Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. I hope so much you enjoy watching as much as I have loved creating!
I am asking a huge favor of all my Good Morning Gloucester, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram friends and that is to please share the trailer, hit all like buttons, and if you have time, to please comment.
In seeking funding to finish the film, I am currently in the process of writing grant proposals. Recently, I was invited to join the Filmmakers Collaborative, which is a tremendous and well-respected organization that is providing excellent advice and will also act as the fiscal sponsor for the film. Each filmmaker represented by the Filmmakers Collaborative has a project page on the FC website and I invite you to visit mine here: Filmmakers Collaborative.
Look for Pilar, Meadow, and Atticus in the trailer. They were wonderful and I am so appreciative of their assistance. There were additional kids from our East Gloucester troupe that participated in making the film however, I couldn’t squeeze them all in the trailer. I think you’ll love all the children’s parts in the finished film!
For more information about the documentary, please visit the film’s website here: Beauty on the Wing
My most sincerest thanks to everyone for your kind support!
Please join me Wednesday, March 23rd, for my Pollinator Garden program at the Abbot Library, 235 Pleasant Street, Marblehead. The program begins at 7:00pm and is sponsored by Marblehead’s three garden clubs, The Driftwood, Cottage, and Marblehead Garden Clubs. I hope to see you there!
Cornus florida rubra ~ The pink flowering dogwood is truly one of our most beautiful native trees, not only for the beauty of its blossoms but because the female Spring Azure butterfly deposits her eggs on the yellow florets.
Niles Pond at dawn, a great place for bird watching
Please join me Thursday night at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center where I will be presenting a brand new illustrated talk “Beautiful Birds of Cape Ann.” The program covers the gorgeous migrating and resident birds that we see in our neighborhoods, as seen through the seasons, and includes such beauties as the Snowy Owl, Brant Geese, Snow Goose, Redheads, a rarely-seen-in-our region White Pelican, egrets, herons, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, songbirds, and some life history of Cape Ann’s resident swan family. The program begins at 7pm and is part of the RNCC and Mass Audubon ongoing exhibit “For the Birds.” I hope to see you there!
Also too, if any of our readers live in the Rye, New Hampshire area, I am giving my illustrated talk on the Monarch Butterfly tomorrow morning, Tuesday the 16th, at 10am. Please email me if you would like more information.
Although scientists have long known that the toxic sap that flows through milkweed veins, called cardenolides, can make a bird very sick if it attempts to eat a Monarch caterpillar, it was unclear whether the butterfly’s acquired adaption to the toxicity was a side effect that allowed the caterpillar to eat the milkweed or had developed separately as a defensive mechanism against predators. A Cornell University study recently published in Proceedings B of The Royal Society Publishing reveals that they have indeed evolved to weaponize milkweed toxins! Thank you so much to Maggie Rosa for sharing “The Scientist” article and you can read more about it here.
“Monarch butterfly caterpillars have evolved the ability to store toxins known as cardenolides, obtained from their milkweed diet, specifically to make themselves poisonous to birds, as has at least one other species of milkweed-munching caterpillar, according to a study published Wednesday (November 4) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“This finding is fascinating and novel,” Stephen Malcolm, a professor at Western Michigan University who studies cardenolides but was not involved in the new research, wrote in an email to The Scientist. “It is exciting to have evidence for the importance of top-down influences from predators.” Continue Reading
Please join me Thursday evening, November 12th, at 7pm at the Sawyer Free Library for my illustrated talk, Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. Looking forward to seeing you there!
Wishing Everyone Peace and Joy in 2015!
Can you believe Tom still has that same leather jacket. It was lent to dozens of school and community plays–think West Side Story!
That’s Tom’s selfie–he’s the original selfie-maker–or at least I had never seen anyone do that before. It’s not that easy to make a selfie with a film camera. He did it so effortlessly, but then again, he can also draw upside down!
Next Monday afternoon at the Community House I will be presenting my “Pollinator Garden” program to the Rockport Garden Club. I am looking forward to meeting with this great group of civic-minded gardeners. I see their signs all around town at the various gardens they maintain and they do a simply outstanding job! The program begins at 1:15 and the doors open to the public at 1:00.
The Pollinator Garden
Following the rhythm of the seasons, celebrated landscape designer Kim Smith presents a stunning slide show and lecture demonstrating how to create a welcoming haven for bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Native plants and examples of organic and architectural features will be discussed based on their value to particular vertebrates and invertebrates.
Gaura is not a only a fabulous drought tolerant plant for the water-wise garden, it is also a caterpillar food plant for the beautiful day-flying White-lined Sphinx Moth.
The Rockport Community House is located at 58 Broadway, Rockport.
Friday night I had the joy to attend the fabulous new exhibit at the Berkshire Museum titled “Butterflies!” The galleries are filled with hands on art and science activities, contemporary butterfly sculpture, artifacts from the museum’s collections, live caterpillars, and mixed media of photography and film, including an audio track from Dr. Lincoln Brower discussing what happens within a chrysalis. And, as part of the exhibit, one of the galleries houses a large butterfly pavilion with over 200 live tropical butterflies from around the world!
“Butterflies” was curated by Maria Mingalone, the museum’s director of interpretation, and she deftly and beautifully combines science, art, and nature in an exhibit that is sure to inspire and delight the very youngest to the most senior of citizens, and every age in between!
The opening was very joyful and buoyant—I most certainly felt that way and, judging from the expressions on visitor’s faces, wasn’t alone. I am convinced that butterflies bring out the happy in people!
The audience for my short film “Flight of the Monarchs”—I watched as many people watched my film many times over, despite the case that because the galleries were so crowded you couldn’t hear the beautiful music. I think there were several thousand people at the event.
The music that I set my film to is “Fields of Blue,” written and performed by Jesse Cook. I wrote the artist and sent him a copy of my film and the most amazing thing happened where, within only the few day whirlwind to create this little film, we were granted permission to use his song!!!!!!!!
My film opens with a clip of a Monarch flying in front of Eastern Point Lighthouse (you can see our Lighthouse in the above photo). Most of the footage that I used for the movie was of butterflies in flight, shot on Cape Ann, and the audience was stunned at how beautiful the migration is through Gloucester. That opening clip of the Lighthouse and the Monarch took several days to capture the exact shot that I wanted. Butterflies don’t take direction!
If you have never been to the Berkshire Museum, their website description reads as follows: “The Berkshire Museum offers a unique array of exhibitions, activities, and attractions for visitors of all ages. From fine art and ancient objects to fossils; from an aquarium of native and exotic creatures to the Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, we are your community museum: a place where everyone, from toddlers to elders, can learn, play, explore, innovate, be engaged and inspired.”
I arrived early, before “Butterflies” opened its door, and explored the galleries. It’s really a very engaging museum and especially while the exhibit is running, would be a wonderfully fun and interesting day trip with children.
Sam Jaffe making final adjustments to the chrysalis and cocoon display. To see some of Sam’s stunning photography, click on his website here: Sam Jaffee
See more photos from the Berkshire Museum galleries Continue reading
Please come join me on Saturday, July 13th, at 1:00 and at 2:00, for guided tours of the butterfly gardens I designed for the Gloucester HarborWalk. The guided tour is included in the cost of the ticket for the Gloucester Garden Tour. Please feel free to email me with any questions about the butterfly garden tour at the HarborWalk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my favorites, and in bloom now at the Gloucester HarborWalk Gardens, is the stunning North American native wildflower Culver’s Root or Veronicastrum virginicum. The plant typically grows to five feet and, when in flower, creates a lovely, airy candelabrum effect. Culver’s Root prefers full sun and moist well-drained soil. When I was there checking on the gardens several days ago all manner of bees and butterflies were nectaring from the diminutive florets of the spikey racemes of the Veronicastrum.
Veronicastrum virginicum and Cabbage White Butterfly, Gloucester HarborWalk Butterfly Garden
Rockport Festivals is pleased to announce that two films received the inaugural Motif 1 Short Film Fest People’s Choice award(s):
Wow! What a great first year for the first Motif 1 Short Film Fest! We had some great submissions, ranging on topics from the launch of an Essex-built schooner to the legend of the Gloucester Sea Serpent. The following eight short films were chosen for the first Motif 1 Short Film Fest:
Launch Day of the Schooner Ardelle
by Len Burgess
What do You Love About Cape Ann?
by Mike Kelly
by Kim Smith
Gloucester Sea Serpent
by Doctor Colonel Gonzo
No More Gloomy Sundays
by Robert Newton
New England Blood
by Emile Doucette
Thacher Island Nature Reserve Sunrise
by Ron Rismen
Two screenings were held at the annual Motif No.1 Festival in Rockport, one on Friday, May 17th and another on Saturday, May 18th, with Twin Lights soda courtesy of Rockport’s own Thomas Wilson Beverage Co. at both screenings. Viewers were asked to vote for their favorite film (if they felt so inclined — voting was entirely optional). Across the ballots all the films received great feedback, with one voter checking off every single option with the comment that each one was a favorite. But in the end, two films emerged as the front runners with both receiving the same number of votes.
Read more about the event at Rockport Art Festivals
Reminder to save the date ~ A week from Tuesday, on the evening of June 12th, I am giving a tour of the butterfly gardens at Willowdale Estate. We will be showing my short film about the gardens at Willowdale and Briar’s delicious refreshments will be served. I am very excited to share the gardens and show how to translate this information to your own garden. I hope you can join us for what promises to be a lovely evening!
R.S.V.P. to Info@WillowdaleEstate.com.
A recent find for one of my design clients is this pair of sweetly hand-painted Czechoslovakian lamps, with coordinating shades trimmed in blue silk cord, discovered at a local vintage shop.
I love the challenge of searching for and finding one of a kind (or in this case, a pair of) treasures for my design clients. And I partuclarly love one of my ongoing design jobs for a simply delightful family, with three lovely and lively daughters, each with their own very distinct personality and style preference. The eldest daughter is zippy and lighthearted with a definite flair for the modern; the second daughter is gently refined and ethereal (I think of watercolor hues for her); and the third daughter is possessed of a warm and sunny character—a radiant sunflower. The pair of Czechoslovakian lamps will add a charming touch to the middle daughter’s bedroom. Whether you are searching for special plants for the garden (the most highly scented specimens, for example) or rare and/or out-of-the-ordinary objects of art and decoration for the home, thoughtfully selected accents create the most welcoming sort of home.
Important Safety Note: Although these lamp bases are in near-perfect vintage condition, the cords are not. Judging from the overall poor condition of the cords, I would guess they were last wired in the late 1950’s or 1960’s. We will re-wire the lamps with soft gold-colored cord, which will better blend with the décor, as opposed to the dark brown or stark white wire. Always, and always very thoroughly, check the wiring when purchasing vintage lighting—for obvious reasons, I cannot stress this enough.
My darling daughter, away at graduate school, is missing home and missing especially Christmas-making. She called last night to request a snapshot of our Christmas tree. My wish for Christmas was that both Liv and Alex could come home for Christmas. Alex we knew for sure would be home (if for no other reason than he misses home cooked dinners) but Liv started a brand new job with a crazy schedule and is mired in papers and finals. I learned yesterday that she will be traveling home on the 21st and son will be home Thursday of this week. Happiest of moms am I!
Click any photo to see slide show
Thursday night my husband’s band, Big City Rockers, a new version of their old band, The Atlantics, played at House of Blues on Landsdowne Street to an enthusiastic crowd of old and new fans. WFNX organized the event and it was great to hear hits like Pop Shivers and Lonely Hearts. Congratulations Big City Rockers! xo
Part one interview with Sarah Hackett, founder of Haiti Projects, Inc., a non-profit charitable corporation. The goal of Haiti Projects is to help people help themselves through the education initiative, the library, the family health clinic, and by providing employment for women through the artisan cooperative. Raise a woman. Raise a family. Raise a village.
So many have called and written in regard to our friend Sarah Hackett and the non-profit organization she founded, Haiti Projects. For friends who do not personally know Sarah, she is a woman of great vision and courage (and in her mid-80s!). Sarah is presently in Haiti, living in the rural mountainous area called Fond des Blancs, which is about 65 miles southwest from the epicenter of the earthquake. Sarah and the staff at Haiti Projects have survived, however they are very badly shaken and overwhelmed by yet another horrific tragedy that has befallen their country, family, and friends. Read Sarah’s emails, from Haiti, further below.
The goal of Sarah’s Haiti Projects is to help people help themselves. To do so, Haiti Projects developed five “arms” of self-help projects:
1) Cooperative d’Artisanat: A sewing and knitting cooperative that provides work and much needed cash for women.
2) Education Initiative: A tuition program to help poor families send their children to school.
3) Family Health Clinic: A clinic that offers planning services to those who wish to control their family’s size.
4) Library: A community library to encourage reading skills among local citizens.
5) RATRAP: (Rassemblement Travailleurs Paysan): A micro-lending program to help farmers borrow money for tools and raising animals.
My involvement with Haiti Projects began several years ago when Sarah hired me to design new linens and garments for the artisan co-operative. I was planning to travel to Haiti on January 29th through the 7th to work with the tailor and help with production of the new designs. And I was also traveling on assignment for a feature story about Sarah and Haiti Projects for Cape Ann Magazine. Of course all that is temporarily on hold. Many have asked what can they do to help. I urge you to go the Haiti Projects website at http://www.haitiprojects.org/ to learn more about this truly worthwhile organization. Donations* can be made through paypal (look for the Donate icon on the contact page of the website) or sent to:
Haiti Projects Inc.
31 Leonard Street
Gloucester, MA 01930 USA
Please give not only for the immediate crisis, but in order to support the long-term goals of Haiti Project’s mission. Any amount is helpful and greatly appreciated. Thank you on behalf of Sarah and Haiti Projects for your concern and help. I will forward any future emails from Sarah.
Sarah’s email from the first night after the earthquake: “It was quite an event. Never experienced anything like it before. I was walking down to my house and had not gone very far when the whole earth began to shake. All the motorcycles fell over, the gate shook and the ground just kept moving like jelly. We all threw ourselves on the ground and there were smaller tremors. Tison gave me a ride on his motorcycle to my house. There have been three after shocks. Everyone is shaken. The center of the damage seems to be in Port au Prince. We are fine here lots of aftershocks but the group (that was coming from Port au Prince) has just arrived safely, for which we are grateful. We hear that Port au Prince is terrible. The phones are not working but the Internet is. So while it is, I write to assure you all that I am safe and well. Love, Sarah”
Sarah, the following day: “I am fine just still jittery. The artisanat is closed. Please say that when people ask what they can do, tell them to call their congressperson and tell them to get aid here right away. All they have to do is imagine if their house fell down in Boston and they just got out with the clothes on their back, what would such people need? Everything and right away!!!! We are quite cut off here as the phones don’t work but two people on motorcycles got through today so tomorrow a car is going to try. In the afternoon tomorrow there is a funeral for our driver’s 3 year old who was crushed in the rubble when the house collapsed in Port au Prince. And as I write the 8 students that St Boniface houses in a student house in Port au Prince have just arrived just with the clothes on their backs, having escaped as the house was collapsing. We here in the backcountry have not suffered except for the continuous news of loss and for the feelings of helplessness. Mostly we have the jitters still even after 24 hours and that is because the aftershocks have been frightening—strong and continuous. They say there have been as many as 40. Still a few. Sarah”
*Haiti Projects is a 501-(C)-(3) and all donations are tax deductible.