Documentary on monarch butterflies to be shown at Bloomingdale Public Library

"Plants, Pollinators & Prayers" is a recent documentary about a local community's efforts to bring monarch butterflies back to Northern Illinois. The film will have a local screening at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Bloomingdale Public Library.

Inspired to action by the loss of Midwestern prairie habitat and the decline of the monarch butterfly population, this documentary follows the multiyear efforts of a gardener, educator, and pastor as they transform a rural church's backyard into a monarch way station - a sanctuary for pollinating animals, an educational garden for the community, and a sacred space for spiritual contemplation.

Diana Swanson, the gardener who leads the planting of the way station, was inspired to act because, "The monarch butterfly is just one of the most amazing natural phenomena. It's one of the earth's great miracles that this small insect can migrate 3,000 miles or more."

Peggy Doty, an environmental educator, helps bring awareness to the way station by raising monarch butterflies in her backyard, says of the way station, "Who knew that insects could create a destination?"

She says that attracting pollinating insects to the local area is imperative because "We won't be here if they're not here."

The monarch way station featured in the documentary is located at the Mayfield Congregational Church at 28405 Church Road in Sycamore, Illinois.

Pastor Martha Brunell, a central voice in the documentary, speaks about how projects like the way station is "where faith communities need to be now, in collaborative efforts with all kinds of different organizations. The things that are important to us, we do with educational institutions, commercial enterprises, the highway department, in places where our interests and passions overlap."

"Plants, Prayers & Pollinators" is directed and produced by filmmaker and Northern Illinois University professor Randy Caspersen and was shot over the past five years and crewed with students from NIU's Department of Communication.

Since moving to Northern Illinois, Caspersen has made films that showcased the efforts of the Northern Illinois community including award-winning feature documentary "Go Penguins!" about the Penguin Project, a local theater group of young adults and children with disabilities performing the lead roles in a Broadway-style musical.

Since its release, "Plants, Pollinators & Prayers" has screened nationally at film festivals across the United States and Canada.

Admission to the Feb. 15 screening of the documentary at the Bloomingdale Public Library is free. The screening of the 40-minute documentary begins at 7 p.m. There will be a question-and-answer session after the screening with the filmmaker, the gardener and the environmental educator from the documentary. Registration is suggested to reserve a seat. Register at

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