Our Work in
Artistic Expression & Creative Communities

Steve Barr

“When I see the incredible courage these young patients show in the face of such extreme adversity in their lives, every challenge in my own life seems to shrink in comparison.”

When a dear friend’s young son was diagnosed with Leukemia, professional cartoonist Steve Barr knew he wanted to help. His friend suggested that he spend some time with the patients at the pediatric hospital, and perhaps even teach a few of them to draw. From that very first visit, Steve knew he was onto something powerful, and each subsequent visit reaffirmed this.

Steve received his first grant from The Pollination Project, which helped him purchase art supplies and pay for travel expenses to various children’s hospitals.

Today, that seed of an idea has blossomed into “Drawn to Help,” a network of cartoonists and illustrators who volunteer to augment child life and art therapy programs for sick children.

Drawn to Help” has received national attention, including from the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, whose Seacrest Studios broadcasts interactive “Drawn to Help” lessons throughout a handful of pedatric units.

Laura Lavigne

“What are you grateful for today?”

Laura joined The Pollination Project family when her “Happiness Sprinkling Project” was an early recipient of seed funding. The project was simple and powerful – for one hour, a group of people wearing bright yellow shirts held signs with messages such as, “It’s Going to be Okay”, “Tell Them You Love Them”, “Live Your Dream”, and “Sure You Can”. These signs crisscrossed the world and had a powerful impact on both participants and onlookers. Volunteer sign-holders experienced “pure joy,” “magic,” and tears of bliss; one man, who was 88, rated it as one of the top 100 most memorable days of his life.

Since that first grant, the signs have traveled for over 10 years. While the Signs are not currently traveling, the happiness sprinkling cards are still available on Laura’s website and downloaded by many.

As the founder of the Anacortes Center for Happiness, Laura’s more recent work has been about the intersection of happiness and gratitude. She started an online community to help people cultivate a “gratitude attitude,” recognizing how meaningfully our perspective shifts when we attune our senses to look for the ways in which we have been already blessed. Gratitude is also one of the biggest connective forces for relationships. For a few years now, Laura and a few friends wanted to expand this gratitude focus in a BIG way.

Inspired by Laura’s dream and a recognition of how much the world needs more happiness right now, they have launched “The Big Gratitude Project” with the support of an Impact Grant from The Pollination Project. Working with 19 Gratitude Ambassadors in 10 states, the group sent cheery yellow locker boxes to people that asked,  “What are you grateful for today?” People were encouraged to slip a note in the box, which serves as a visual reminder to look through a lens of gratitude.

Melanie Faranello

Melanie is a teaching artist in Hartford, CT where she works with underserved youth and teens teaching creative writing. She started Poetry on the Streets in 2017 as a project that would serve the greater diverse public in her community. Poetry on the Streets’ (POTS) is a public art project designed to engage communities in creative self-expression, connect people through the poetry of everyday life, and share the words of people from different walks of life to promote compassion and greater understanding of one another.

In 2018, she received a seed grant from The Pollination Project to help purchase supplies, build a website, and hold a gallery exhibition of the poems collected through her project. 

Poetry on the Streets

Since receiving that original seed funding, Melanie has:

  • held gallery shows
  • built a partnership with the local transit authority to create “The Poetry Bus,” which saw CT Transit bus #1732 display excerpts of poetry about freedom, equality, and peace written by her creative writing students from “Hartford Young Writers” and “Word Up for Teens”. 
  • Launched Essential Voices in 2020 , which collected words/experiences/thoughts/feelings from people during the pandemic. 
  • Developed POTS newest initiative after participating in The Greenhouse Global Cohort through The Pollination Project – two collaborative projects in Nigeria and Uganda: “The Power of Young Voices: Poetry Writing to Elevate Young Voices Across the World.”
  • Launched Poetry Murals: Summer poetry camp for teens writing poetry based on MLK Principles of Nonviolence.

Donna DeGennaro

Unlocking Silent Histories (USH) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to working with indigenous youth around the world.  Their focus is to strengthen the voices and identities of indigenous youth through the creation of their own documentaries.  They foster a learning environment that is constructed with their students and in turn this environment facilitates youth leadership. In the process, the youth are helping to capture and preserve rapidly disappearing traditions and languages. 

Unlocking Silent Histories (USH) received a first Pollination Project Grant in June  2014.  The seed money allowed them to launch their Youth Leaders Program.  Through this program, Unlocking Silent Histories has experienced rapid expansion, growing from 2 to 7 communities in two years. 

They are still active and thriving. Youth documentaries and films are visible on their website https://www.unlockingsilenthistories.org/

Poetry on the Streets
Poetry on the Streets

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