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A local family started their green initiative with a butterfly sanctuary in their Pilsen backyard. With help from Chicago organizations and leaders, their mission of spreading awareness about plant and insect life continues to throughout their neighborhood.
Species like the iconic monarch butterfly have been going extinct in North America for a long time. Recently, the migratory monarch butterfly was placed under the Endangered Species Act.
When she learned about this problem three years ago, Pilsen native Claudia Galeno-Sanchez and her family decided to take a stand.
“We must do what we can to preserve the butterflies,” said Galeno-Sanchez. The gorgeous black and orange bug was a part of the Puebla, Mexico, native’s upbringing.
In an interview, Galeno-Sanchez stated, “They remind me of my childhood. It pains me that my children may not get to see and experience their beauty. They are like a miracle.”
For the Galeno-Sanchez family, spreading awareness about butterflies has become a considerable part of their livelihood. So much so, in fact, that they renovated their home to accommodate their flying insect friends.
Their backyard hosts a large, netted butterfly sanctuary with food and plants for the insects. The external walls of their home are covered with colorful butterfly paintings. Galeno-Sanchez is hopeful:
People will be able to come and see how the host plants and the native plants work and they will take the idea to their gardens. In this way, we will be able to reach more gardens.
Galeno-Sanchez’s newest initiative sprung forth through the creation of her group, Women for Green Spaces. What started as a family effort has grown into a strong organization. It is run by local women who teach and inspire others to build butterfly gardens in their homes.
They hold educational seminars on the insects and give away free milkweed, a plant caterpillars need to survive. The group collaborates closely with its sister organization, Working Family Solidarity, and acknowledges the vital role that women play in being active in the community and schools for the benefit of their families.
A Citywide Response
The group’s initiative caught the attention of several organizations around the city, such as Chicago Public Schools. They work with the organization to plant milkweed and create butterfly sanctuaries in their spaces located all across the city.
They also use resources to teach CPS students about plant and insect life. Aside from teaching, they also receive funding from organizations like the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Enrique E. Figueroa Gentle Chicana/SOYmos Chicanos Art Fund.
Financial support goes a long way, but the resources the program gets from the Field Museum and the Chicago Botanic Garden make it easier to create these beautiful sanctuaries. Instead of using money to fund these expensive plants and equipment, these two organizations send charitable donations of milkweed and other butterfly-friendly plants straight to their door. Women for Green Spaces can distribute these resources among the many butterfly sanctuaries they sponsor in the city.
This generosity also allows a new network of education from these knowledgeable corporations to prosper. According to Abigail Derby-Lewis, director of the Conservation Tools program at the Field Museum, the work being done by the Galeno-Sanchez family to cultivate a habit for monarchs and other pollinators to grow is substantial.
It’s extremely similar to the work that others living in North America have done ever since the monarchs’ endangerment became a reality. Derby-Lewis said that:
“People have such a deep love for this species, and there’s a lot happening on the ground that needs to continue.”
Written by Ogechi Onyewuchi
Edited by Sheena Robertson
CBS News: Pilsen couple transformed the home into butterfly sanctuary, and now they want to pay green efforts forward, by Marybel Gonzales
Block Club Chicago: A Pilsen Group is Promoting Green Spaces In The Neighborhood By Building Butterfly Sanctuaries, Giving Away Plants, by Madison Savedra
The Frederick News-Post: Chicago family creates sanctuaries for monarch butterflies, identified by global group as endangered species, by Laura Rodriguez Presa from Chicago Tribune
Featured Image Courtesy of Raed Mansour‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inline Image Courtesy of pontla‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Second Inline Image Courtesy of Laura Bernhardt‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Third Inline Image Courtesy of Raed Mansour‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License