The Butterfly Project

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It amazes me every day how the universe folds up neatly and sits so nicely in this book-like contraption called my laptop. I flip it open in the morning, press the power button, and everything in the world except a hot cup of coffee is right in there. It's amazing.

More amazing is the network of associations that emerge from individual thoughts on individuals' blogs. For example, last week, I posted photos of butterflies at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina, and in the Bronx Zoo in New York. In response, Laura told me about the butterfly project at the Holocaust Museum of Houston by way of a link to another blog that linked to the actual project.

Which places us all squarely in a concentration camp in World War II, where Pavel Friedman penned this poem:

The Butterfly
The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone....

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ’way up high.
It went away I’m sure
because it wished
to kiss the world good-bye.

For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here, in the ghetto.

Pavel Friedman, June 4, 1942
Born in Prague on Jan. 7, 1921.
Deported to the Terezin Concentration Camp on April 26, 1942.
Died in Aushchwitz on Sept. 29, 1944.

When we come back to the present wondering how it is we can connect with Pavel Friedman's story and the stories of 1,500,000 children who died in the Holocaust, we find we can respond as humans always have responded to destruction: by creating something. In this case, butterflies.

I created these origami butterflies for this project. I think I will also enlist the help of the students in my origami club at school. The kids in my club always want to make something for somebody once they have mastered a pattern. This time, their somebodies will have come before them. We will share our work with this project. Thank you, Laura, for shedding light on this part of our universe.


  1. What a beautiful idea and a wonderful way to help others understand the horror that we all hope will never, ever happen again! I love your butterflies! Thank you, Sandy, for all you do to help us realize that it is love and beauty and kindness that is needed in the world today -- not what we are being told is important -- by both parties right now.


  2. What a wonderful thing to do with your students. An oragami club! What a neat idea. And the project they're contributing to will open a bit of a window on the past.

  3. I have added the site and the poem to my sidebar. It isn't much, but I feel I have to do something, no matter how small. I have visited some of the concentration camps in Germany, what you see there, experience there will never leave you. Thank you, again!


  4. You never cease to amaze me with how you take on such wonderful projects - how you express yourself and how you involve your students. And yet, it doesn't surprise me at all. You're a gem, Sandy.

  5. I agree
    And I've heard and seen this.
    but unlike you that is where it ended.

    you inspire as always.


  6. That butterfly project sounds pretty cool. It is amazing what we learn from networking with other bloggers around the country.

    I love the poem and your origami butterflies.

  7. I love the butterflies and my aunt went to see the holocaust museum in Germany and it is horrible.
    Things like this should never happen.
    To think, life is short and this human species, is trying to self destruct when God has the power to do everyone in at the same time, whenever he wishes.
    Monsters like Hitler, Stalin Khadaffi Saddam and Bin Laden etc.....people should see them for who they are.
    These are monstrous people who torture maim terrorize and kill just because they can.
    I am totally against this.

  8. A great way to capture the imagination

  9. What a blessing ! You, your students and the people with blogs that led you to all this. May your butterfly origami project "fly with strong wings" and YOUR LOVE!

  10. These butterflies will be a wonderful way to remember. Butterflies are often used to commerate the dead. They are so much like spirits flitting about.

  11. This is a beautiful post, in so many ways Sandy. I love your first paragraph, so true. I love the story of the butterflies. And how making yours brought peace and powerful thoughts into your world, to share with us. Thank you!

  12. Tomorrow I will go there. Wonderful post.

  13. I just gave my grandson a book of origami papers and appropriate to match it with a poem and piece of history

  14. Anonymous8:07 PM

    Much respect upon this entry of yours !

    May there wings be able to spread only the Good and Beautiful.

  15. What a wonderful project for you and your students. I know they will enjoy making these butterflies very much.

  16. I love your post (and your blog). You always talk about important, meaningful things--we all need to do more of that. Love the origami butterflies --what fun the kids will have making those. Mickie

  17. It's an uplifting and wonderful idea for never forgetting the unspeakable horror of the Olocaust.

  18. I had read about The Butterfly Project but had forgotten. Thanks for the reminder, Sandy.

    Those origami butterflies are beautiful, and that rich blue backdrop is perfect. Perhaps it's simply what you were wearing, but I couldn't imagine a better color. Lovely and sad at the same time. So are the butterflies, with their wrinkled surfaces.

  19. OH, Sandy I just saw this...thanks for linking to me...I love your butterflies...I know the one's your students will be magnificent additions to the collection too!

  20. such a tender sad and wonderful project. Your butterflies are gorgeous.


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