Butterflies typically live during the spring and summer months. Beginning with the fall academic quarter, they’ll be year ’round residents at Cal State San Bernardino (CSUSB) and, hopefully, off campus and in the community, too.

It’s not a new species of butterfly, but a yearlong campaign called 50 Acts of Kindness featuring colorful origami versions of the winged insects. Through the paper butterflies, the task of students, faculty and staff at CSUSB will be to pollinate kindness on- and off-campus as the university celebrates its 50th anniversary this coming academic year.

CSUSB’s Office of Community Engagement and artist Annie Buckley, an associate professor of art who originated the “Pollinating Kindness: Good Deeds Anonymous,” a participatory art project, are working together on the 50 Acts of Kindness campaign that will bring Buckley’s project to the campus.

“We were actively looking for something to do for the university’s 50th anniversary,” said Diane Podolske, director of the CSUSB Office of Community Engagement. “And so we have adopted ‘50 Acts of Kindness’ as our celebration of the 50th anniversary. Our plan is to launch the kindness campaign at the volunteer fair, which is Oct. 1.”

Using the handmade origami butterflies (Buckley uses the method of origami master Akira Yoshizawa), messages are tucked inside each butterfly with an act of kindness to perform. Many are very simple and free, such as smiling at five people during the day, giving five sincere compliments during the day, or writing letters of appreciation.

The butterflies will be left on “butterfly trees” at various places and those who take one are essentially given the task to perform the act of kindness. The deed can be repeated by the recipient who is given the butterfly and its message (hence the pollinating kindness idea), or left somewhere for someone else to pickup.

Buckley, who started the Community-based Art Initiative at CSUSB, said she had been moving toward a point where her art and community work merge.

“It’s thinking about art as not merely as an object but an interaction, an experience,” Buckley said. “Recently it’s surfaced as social practice or community-based. And what I wanted to do with this project is experiment with the idea of kindness as the material for the art.”

For more information about the “50 Acts of Kindness” project contact Diane Podolske, at (909) 537-7483, or email dpodolsk@csusb.edu.

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