The New York City-based website Nationswell has produced an 11-minute documentary featuring the third annual San Antonio Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival at the Pearl with an additional focus on the feared impact of the Trump Administration’s border wall on the National Butterfly Center in Mission.
The work of Nationswell journalist and videographer Alan Thompson is affirmation of San Antonio’s stature as the first Monarch Champion City in the United States recognized by the National Wildlife Federation, which now counts more than 400 cities enrolled in the national program.
As the founder of the annual festival and the Texas Butterfly Ranch, I was privileged to enjoy a prominent role in the mini-doc.
“Change is the only constant, and it’s going to be different. Not better or worse. Just different.”
Thompson found me via social media and we first connected in early July. He traveled to San Antonio in late October, then found his way to Mission in the Rio Grande Valley to tour the National Butterfly Center, before attending San Antonio’s three-day festival held October 19 -21. Throughout his stay in Texas, he gathered footage for the video below, which we encourage all monarch and pollinator enthusiasts to share.
Borrowing the festival’s Butterflies without Borders theme, Thompson assembles an interesting mashup of like-minded causes–our celebratory Festival and the sobering chaos and division caused by the border wall slated to plow through the National Butterfly Center (NBC) on the Texas-Mexico border.
The Festival, and Thompson’s video, show how advocates with different points of view can set aside those differences and work together for the greater good.
In the video, NBC executive director Mariana Treviño-Wright guides Thompson on a tour of the butterfly preserve’s border area destined for division by the proposed border wall.
“We are actually home to the southernmost monarch way station (in the United States), where we’ve planted thousands and thousands of native milkweeds as well as almost 100 acres of their preferred nectar sources,” she says.
Navigating steel bollards with multiple padlocks, Treviño-Wright points to an expanse of greenery: “This right here is where the border wall is gonna go,” she says. She makes the point that the wall will actually be built more than one mile north of the actual Texas-Mexico border. The land owned by the NBC between the border and the border wall, she says, will become, in effect, a no-man’s land.
Thompson also taps another Festival panelist, investigative journalist and author Carey Gillam, whose book Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, takes agrichemical giant Monsanto to task for its promotion of the herbicide glyphosate. Commonly known as RoundUp, the weedkiller is widely acknowledged as a primary force in monarch butterfly and pollinator decline.
He closes the video circling back to San Antonio’s Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival. The narrative underscores the notion that it’s possible, even advantageous, for advocates to set aside differences to find common ground — in this case, restoring habitat, and elevating public awareness, understanding and appreciation for monarch butterflies and other insect pollinators.