Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful Project

What is the Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful Project?

The butterfly effect is the idea that a small change can lead to a much bigger change.

Watch our KTVU News piece here!

The Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful project is an art and activism project led by youth in the Bay Area. We are leading a movement to create a visual representation that will raise awareness of the 15,000 immigrant children who have been and are currently in US detention and to inspire our community to take action to end child detention permanently.

We are working with our community to make 15,000 butterflies out of recycled and upcycled materials. Butterflies will be displayed on strings hanging from old bike wheels, with ~500 butterflies per wheel. Public institutions including libraries, hospitals, schools, and city halls are displaying the butterflies to raise awareness of children in detention.

Our founding partners are the Alphabet Rockers, Destiny Arts Center, and The Center for Cultural Power (formerly CultureStrike). The line “migration is beautiful” comes from the Center for Cultural Power.

We are thrilled to be joining forces with Amnesty International! Click here for ways you can help end child detention.

Our goal is to have the butterflies completed by November 1st, 2019.

What’s next?

Save the date!! We are planning a youth led rally to end child detention on Saturday, November 16th, from 4-5pm in Oakland. We would like to display ALL the butterflies in the Bay Area at this event. Please plan to attend and bring your butterflies! We are working to raise money to fund this event; please consider making a small gift! Stay tuned for additional details!

We are also planning to bring butterflies to detention centers/the border. Watch this space for updates and sign up for our email list below if you want to learn more!


Butterfly Count as of 9/20: 13,341 (89%)


Join the movement by making butterflies!

Kids across the WORLD are making butterflies – from Zimbabwe to California, and from Brazil to Oregon! If you live outside the Bay Area and want to participate, we would love to partner with you – just send us an email!

You can make butterflies and display them in your own community, or you can send them to us.

If you want to create your own display we can share resources, tips on setting it up, and we’ll provide you with a sign that you can display with the wheel explaining the project.

Make sure to send us photos of your butterflies on display so we can add you to the map!

Please also post your photos to Instagram and tag us! #butterflyeffectmigration


Join us at these events to make butterflies!

September 20th, 10am – 12pm: SF Climate Strike! We’ll be outside 575 Market Street making butterflies. Join us!

September 21st, 2-5pm, Dimond Branch, Oakland Public Library, 3565 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland – Come make butterflies at the library with us!

September 22nd, 11-1pm, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3220 California Street – Come make butterflies at the the JCCSF’s New Year Festival with us!


Why are we doing this?

We are doing this art project because we are trying to get people to realize just how many children are being held in the detention centers. We chose butterflies because they symbolize that migration is beautiful, and because they are all different and beautiful in their own way, just like people. Every kid matters, and we kids in the Bay Area want the kids in detention centers to know that we care about each one of them. Butterflies also symbolize freedom, and we imagine a day when all kids are free and with their families.


Need ideas on how to make butterflies?


Public Displays

We are seeking more public spaces in which to display the butterfly wheels. If you would like to learn more, please email us at butterflyeffectmigration@gmail.com


Learn more, then do more…

“I don’t think the question really is, ‘What should we be doing to provide better care in detention?’ It should be, ‘Why are we detaining kids in the first place?”

–Dr. Julie Linton, Pediatrician

Learn more about what’s happening with kids in detention centers, and find other ways you can help.


Thank you to our partners & supporters!!

Alphabet Rockers, Amnesty International USA, BANANAS, CultureStrike, Destiny Arts Center, Karim Bicycles, Pollinator Posse

Want to help? We need more supporters to help get the word out, and we’d love donations of recycled/gently used art supplies to make the butterflies. Email us if you can help!

Need some inspiration?
Listen to our amazing theme song, “Until You’re Free” by the Alphabet Rockers!


Get in Touch

The Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful

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Progress towards our goal: