Paper butterfly garden at MSUFCU fights ageist agenda

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Kelsey Lester

Social organization AgeAlive recently worked with Michigan State University’s Federal Credit Union Headquarters to install a paper garden exhibit, giving way for spring to blossom before us.

Paper flowers and butterflies were displayed in the lobby of the FCU, which was very telling of AgeAlive’s ultimate mission to build bridges between generations. To mend age differences in the community, AgeAlive invited people of all ages to come paint and fold their own butterflies for the exhibit.

Artist in residence for AgeAlive Zahrah Resh, folded all of the flowers on display in the garden as well as installed the community made butterflies. Resh said her greatest pleasure was working with people, ranging from kindergartners to elders.

“When I have time I just make the flowers,” said Resh. “I love dying the paper, cutting it, shaping it, and working with the people that are painting and folding the butterflies. To me, that is the best part of the whole project. Older people being involved with younger people keeps everybody young.”

Kelsey Lester

With this garden, AgeAlive Director Clare Luz hopes to spread the word about this stigma between ages.

“We break down barriers between ages and promote well-being for all people regardless of age,” said Luz. “We have intentionally tried to bring people together. We live in a very ageist society and we believe that the way to break down ageism is to foster inter-generational relationships so we all get to know each other and value each other.”

Deidre Davis, chief marketing officer at MSU’s Federal Credit Union, says almost 1,000 butterflies were painted for the lobby.

“They’re in every direction. They’re just absolutely everywhere,” said Davis. “It really just adds a touch of joy to people’s days because it’s so unexpected. It’s a wow kind of moment.”

Resh said these butterflies added so much meaning to the message.

“It’s positive living — not being so separated just because you’re young and somebody is 20 years older than you,” said Resh. “You have the same issues. Try to blur those lines.”

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