Jim Rivett: Guardian of the Worthwhile

by | Aug 21, 2020 | ShiftHappens

This week, Jim Rivett would have turned 62. Although I never met him, I continue to be inspired by him.

Jim died in 2018, but he packed so much life and love into his years on earth that the reverberations of his legacy continue to ripple out.

Jim was a boundless giver, and he wasn’t afraid to make it personal.

He invited the homeless into his kitchen for a meal and a haircut. Every Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he designed and donated free posters to local classrooms celebrating Dr. King’s messages of respect, diversity, peace, and love. He held the Green Bay American Red Cross’s record for individual fundraising, rallied the community to restore a beloved historic theatre, and championed songwriters in need of grassroots financial backing.

Of his late husband, Pete Angilello wrote that Jim was “a guardian of the worthwhile.”
After Jim’s death, Pete and several of Jim’s close friends partnered with our team at The Pollination Project to create “The Canary Fund,” so named for Jim’s gift of sensing the needs of his environment and his ability to “sing after every storm.”

The Canary Fund brings the Pollination Project’s model of heartivism and pollination philanthropy to the Northeast Wisconsin communities that Jim loved so deeply. Through the fund, Jim’s heart for service lives on in the work of local activists, dreamers, visionaries, and doers. Canary Fund grantees are early-stage changemakers whose work likely wouldn’t qualify for other institutional funding; grant decisions are made by a participatory team of volunteer advisors who are close to the issues and communities the projects hail from.

Since January 2020, over $23,000 in Canary Fund seed grants have been awarded to 17 individuals. Their projects include free community meditation nights, greenway restoration, access to care for community-based doula services, promotion of inclusivity for former Somali refugee youth, and many more.

“Like someone once said, ‘It’s hard to forget someone that gave you so much to remember,’” Pete reflects. “The good that is coming from the Canary Fund projects are a fitting tribute to someone who gave so much to others. Jim would be smiling at this circle of continuing love and compassion.”