photo: Asani Phoenix
photo: Flann O'Brien
The Valley of the Flowers Project is grateful for two grants received thus far, one solicited and one not.
Thank you to the Pollination Project for a $1,000 grant to enable BYO Bag's reusable hemp bag sales fundraising, and to a state philanthropy foundation for a $500 gift towards our work.
Also, many thanks to our two participating stores, Heeb's and Joe's Parkway,local breweries for regularly donating to and promoting the cause, other supporters listed below, and many others too numerous to mention.
Nature inspiring art, art giving back to Nature is a major theme of my life, and it is now the fundraising theme for the
Valley of the Flowers Project's
vision of transforming my community, and our world into a sustainable one.
My name is Wren Kilian, and I have been a nature lover and photographer since my youth, always picking up trash I find after photographing at a site. Finding peace in the everyday beauty that surrounds us invaluable to me, and my passion is to spread an awareness of how precious this gift of the natural world is, and how we need to be the best possible stewards of it that we possibly can.
I am a mother, and grandmother who lives in Montana,
and whose deep concern for the legacy we are leaving future generations inspired me to work as an activist to improve the 4 R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (compost) in our town and state. Learning in the 90's that Montana is almost last in the nation in recycling, that our local landfill, and many others across our state are leaking toxins into local watersheds and were being closed, motivated me to take action. The solution for Yellowstone National Park was to implement a plan to become zero-waste, which was accomplished in 2016. The rest of the state just keeps building and expanding landfills as we grow exponentially.
I rode my bicycle from Montana to Washington, D.C. in 2013 with the hope that my petition for a National Bottle Deposit and Single-Use Bag Law would go viral, and our country would take a simple step to sustainability that would create many green jobs, reduce litter and waste, and improve recycling.
After the ride I realized that my energy lobbying the government to help create change, would be better spent creating change in my own life. So, I built a green house out of recycled materials, formed permaculture beds over much of my lawn, and, I now grow enough food for myself and to share (with total off-grid the ultimate goal). Valley of the Flowers Project's free (donations accepted) veggie stand on my corner, helped random connections become a partnership between two other local sustainability groups: an MSU student group, 1,000 New Gardens Bozeman, and Transition Town Bozeman.
Another serendipity at that time, was an about to go defunct non-profit 501c3 with $1,000 in its bank account, showed up on my doorstep. I realized the potential of a non-profit working directly with businesses: my BYO Bag for Change program as a new approach to the critical challenge of reducing waste and improving sustainability. A mission to help communities become net-zero, sustainable, healthy, creative, places to live through innovative programs which educate and empower individuals, fostering a deeper connection to the natural world is the goal of the redirected non-profit, Community Outdoor Recreation Association.
The 3 loosely affiliated groups, Valley of the Flowers Project, Transition Town Bozeman, and 1,000 New Gardens Bozeman, plan to network with other like-minded efforts, and will continue to grow to become a hub for many aspects of sustainable living. Many community gardens, and a few earth-sheltered greenhouses, for a year-round Montana growing season are being built, plus solar and geothermal projects.
In its first 2 years at a couple small, local stores, BYO Bag for Change raised over $2,000 in $.05 bag refunds to fund gardens,recycling bins and youth nature programs. Valley of the Flowers Project has also teamed with the Bogert Farmer's Market to create food waste composting at the markets, and 6 recycling bins for Bozeman parks (coming summer 2017).
We still have about $1,000 in our bank account, but our goals of taking our town to zero-waste and net-zero with a zero-waste grocery store, food digester/municipal composter, many community gardens and educational programs will need a boost to help us raise the millions we'll need.
Until the big grant comes through, our main fundraising source will be crowdfunding through Patreon (click below!),
and with our "Nature Inspiring Art, Art Giving Back to Nature", arts/crafts, including music, photography, film, basketry, and almost any media one can imagine. I am seeking to create an ARTISTS COOPERATIVE as part of our outline store, with other artists helping to fund this quest for sustainability 100% of Patreon funding,and sales from www.wrenkilanphotography.com
will go towards building sustainable communities, and varying percentages will be donated according to each artist's preference at Valley of the Flower Project's artist's cooperative online store at www.valleyoftheflowersproject.org
(online store currently under construction, but look for us at some farmer's markets this summer!)
A new community service program this year starting on a small scale will be our Urban Food Forest Harvest. Youth and other community volunteers will harvest and process the abundance of berries, cherries, grapes, apples, and other edibles growing in town to share with property owners, donate to food banks and schools, and sell for fundraising. Participants will be rewarded with a share of the harvest, as well as ski lift tickets, and other donated outdoor recreational prizes often out of reach for low/average income folks.
Going from almost last in the nation in recycling, to becoming model stewards of nature, will take a radical transformation. According to legend, my home has seen before that sort of massive shift from destruction to harmony. This area of Montana is called the Valley of the Flowers, but it was once a battleground for many tribes, each of which laid claim to this bountiful valley. One day a vision of a spirit maiden appeared. All ceased their fighting and understood in their many different languages, as the beautiful, melodious voice commanded, "There shall be no more bloodshed, lest it spoil the flowers. The Valley of the Flowers is a place of healing, rest, and love."
Nature inspires and sustains me. I feel a need to give back for all I receive. By being the best stewards possible of our "last best place", we will be respecting the tradition of the Valley of the Flowers, and leave a positive legacy for future generations. Please help the vision of the Valley of the Flowers Project grow and spread like wildflowers across the lands.
Heartfelt gratitude to all who have given their love and support throughout this labor of love of the Earth, especially my family.
all photos and text copyright Wren Kilian
uunless noted with photo credit