The Mariposa Project

The Story Behind The Book

The idea was born in 2017 when Ben sent the lyrics of his bilingual song “Señorita Mariposa” to Marcos Almada Rivero, a revered Mexican illustrator living in Oaxaca. The pair had become fast friends after collaborating on the artwork for Ben’s Latin GRAMMY Award-winning album, Los Animales, and were excited to reimagine the song as a picture book. As the project unfolded, the national dialogue about immigration and climate change intensified, emphasizing the symbolic importance of their cross-border collaboration.
“On the face of it, Señorita Mariposa celebrates the wonder of the Monarch Butterfly’s annual migration,” says Gundersheimer, “an epic three thousand mile journey that spans the US, Mexican, and Canadian borders." However, a deeper underlying narrative emerged. "We grew to understand the responsibility that all three nations share in safeguarding butterfly habitat and the undeniable parallels with human migration."

In August, Señorita Mariposa was published by Penguin Random House, chronicling the extraordinary annual migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico. The dual language book aims to inspire the next generation of eco-activists and spark dialogue about butterfly habitat and the responsibility that children share on both sides of the border as stewards of the environment.

The Journey to Michoacán 

In February, Ben and Marcos made a pilgrimage to visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico, where they witnessed millions of butterflies congregating in their winter home. They met with Homero Aridjis, the environmental activist who lobbied for more than a decade to protect the Monarch's winter home (establishing the UNESCO World Heritage Site), as well as biologists who study the monarch butterflies and the indigenous cooperatives who continue to protect and preserve their habitat. 

The life-changing journey inspired Ben to develop the Mariposa Project, a touring production that combines music and storytelling with visual art to inspire young eco-activist and help children see each other across borders.
Ben and Homero Aridjis

The Mariposa Project Takes Flight

The Mariposa Project was launched in Washington DC as part of a climate action rally with Moms Clean Air Force, a coalition of more than a million parents who are fighting to safeguard the environment. Children from all over the country flew in and participated in a butterfly making workshop with Ben & Katherine (MISTER and MISSUS G), creating a colorful backdrop for their concert on the National Mall. The next day, children joined MISTER G onstage and sang environmental anthems in front of the Capitol Building before heading up the hill to lobby their elected officials.
Once the concert was over, the paper butterflies were packed up and sent to our friends in Mexico, where they will be distributed to school children for the winter as part of a symbolic migration. This exchange program connects children on both sides of the border, highlighting the responsibility that they share as stewards of the environment and protectors of the pollinator's habitat.

The Mariposa Project continues as MISTER G tours around the country, broadening the collaboration between children in the US and Mexico. 
Making Butterflies at The Carle
THE MARIPOSA PROJECT VISITS THE ERIC CARLE MUSEUM OF PICTURE BOOK ART IN AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS

Get Involved

Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration. They established a nationwide effort to create Monarch Waystations, which are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Similarly, without nectar from flowers these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico. The need for host plants for larvae and energy sources for adults applies to all monarch and butterfly populations around the world.
The Monarch Joint Venture is a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, businesses and academic programs working together to protect the monarch migration across the United States.  Their mission is to protect monarchs and their migration by collaborating with partners to deliver habitat conservation, education, and science across the United States.
The Pollinator Partnership’s mission is to promote the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research.

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