Nozomi Project

I love the ability of womankind to transform tragedy into beauty, connectedness, and hope.

This is exactly what the women of The Nozomi Project are accomplishing in the wake of Japan’s devastating 2011 tsunami.

Their aim?

To train women and grandmothers who have suffered myriad effects of the disaster to craft beautiful, one-of-a kind jewelry from ceramic shards found among the rubble.


Photo courtesy of

“Nozomi,” which means hope in Japanese, is teaching self-sustaining skills to women while providing them a safe haven where they may gather with others who have shared traumatizing experiences.

“Each of the women working with The Nozomi Project has created a collection of her own to honor a loved one, featuring shards of the stunning pottery that Japan is so famous for,” writes Kimberley Mok. “Meticulously crafted in a setting of collective healing and hope, The Nozomi Project is a wonderful example of long-term aid that takes into account of wounds that may take longer to heal than re-building mere buildings.”


Bumble Bee Rumble

Okay, so I asked in last Thursday’s post,

“What will you do to help bees this year?”

In case you’re stumped, here’s an easy idea to get you started this spring:

Bumble Bee Watch.


Photo by Christian Bauer via Wikimedia Commons

What is it?

Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees, and it relies on volunteer “bee spotters” to find and photograph bumbles (learn more about how to photograph bees here).


Photo by Jorge Barrios via Wikimedia Commons

“We will use the data from this project to gather baseline data about the distribution and abundance of North America’s bumble bees. Information from this project will also help answer questions about how environmental changes are affecting bumble bee populations throughout North America,” explains the Watch website. “With any luck, you might help us to find remnant populations of rare species before they go extinct.”

All you need to do is create an account on the Bumble Bee Watch site. Then, grab your camera (no fancy equipment needed) and head out into your yard, garden, local park, or other natural setting where blooming flowers may attract pollinators.


Photo by Donar Reiskoffer via Wikimedia Commons

If you spot a bumble bee, do your best to snap a clear shot (snap a few to help assure a good one). When you get home, submit your photo via the website’s “Record a Sighting” form.

What a fun way to contribute to the cause.


Bee a Helper

We care, and we talk, and we hope.

And, one day …

People everywhere begin to ACT.

Such is the case in Minnesota, where the fate of bees is finding its way into the hearts and actions of concerned citizens.


Photo by Bob Peterson via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, beekeepers Kristy Allen and Erin Rupp set out to mobilize a public meeting. Kristy and Erin are the founders of Beez Kneez, a Minneapolis bicycle honey-delivery and bee-education group, and they were among many area apiarists who lost hives due to fungicide last fall. The chemical cause was identified by University of Minnesota bee researcher Marla Spivak.

It was time to act.

The gals sent out invitations via social media—come one, come all—to attend a meeting that would address ways to help bolster the bees.

Nearly 150 people showed up on that frigid northern night, more than twice what the donated room at a local restaurant could hold.

“I was astonished,” said Representative Jean Wagenius, who came to talk legislation. “Something is going on.”

And that “something” is catching.

In 2013, Minnesota passed a bill directing its agriculture department to come up with new guidance for farmers on preserving pollinator habitat.

“And putting the needs of pollinators in every proposal is now required for projects funded by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which will use about $100 million this year to protect or restore 52,000 acres of Minnesota forests, wetlands, and prairies,” reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Additional efforts in the state include the Environmental Trust Fund’s proposal to allocate $2.25 million for 10 projects related to pollinators as well as further research, a new Bee Discovery Center at the Landscape Arboretum, and a prairie butterfly breeding program at the Minnesota Zoo.

“It wasn’t until people understood the stark relationship to the food supply and the relationship to pesticides that the wave crested,” said Bill Becker, executive director of the Outdoor Heritage Council. “People poured forth with a desire to do things.”

Here’s a great little video by Beez Kneez showing some of the good work they’re doing:

It’s never too late for resolutions, so the question is …

What can you do to help bees in the coming year?