Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful Project

Come Visit Us at the Autumn Lights Festival at Lake Merritt Gardens in Oakland!

October 14-16, 2021

Spread the word: We are still fighting for you!

A video message for the kids still being detained at the borders…

Share this video from @EffectMigration to help #EndChildDetention and let the kids in detention know, we are still fighting for you! http://bit.ly/BE-Still-Fighting-For-You #youthled #art #activism #craftivism #ButterflyEffect #FamiliesBelongTogether #MigrationIsBeautiful

for supporting our work!

Watch this video to learn more about the work we are doing in 2020 & 2021, and then please make a tax-deductible donation to help support our work!

Take Action!

Five ways you can stand up for kids in detention centers right now!

☐ Complete our COVID/Coronavirus Advocacy Challenge

☐ Learn how to make butterflies (learn how here) and then:

Hang a kaleidoscope (a string of butterflies) on your front door!

Share a picture of your butterflies w/ @effectmigration on Twitter and help spread the word about youth using #art and #activism to #EndChildDetention!

☐ Take a picture of your butterflies and post them to FB and/or Instagram. Please tag us @butterflyeffectmigration

☐ Send butterflies to your local elected officials along with a note reminding them of the migrant children in detention and asking them what they are doing to #EndChildDetention.

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 art project is led by youth activists in the Bay Area who are creating a visual representation of the migrant children in detention in order to raise awareness and inspire action to end child detention.  The youth started with a goal of creating 15,000 butterflies. Butterflies symbolize that migration is beautiful, and they are all different and beautiful in their own way, just like people. The butterflies are a symbol of support and friendship to all of the migrant children affected by US immigration policies.

Butterflies are being created and displayed in public institutions like libraries, schools, city halls across the US.  Last year, the youth led a rally with 1,000 people at Lake Merritt in Oakland in solidarity with migrant children, and then brought 15,000 butterflies to Capitol Hill in Washington DC. They delivered butterflies to every US Senator’s offices with a request to end child detention. 

The youth have led the creation of over 50,000 butterflies. Their goal is to create 76,020 butterflies to represent the 76,020 children who were detained at the border last year.

The Butterfly Effect youth leaders write: “this year, we are planning to take butterflies down the US/Mexico border and to detention centers to show the kids that we care about each one of them. We imagine a day when all kids are free and with their families.”


Join the movement by making butterflies!

Kids across the WORLD are making butterflies – from Zimbabwe to California, and from Brazil to Oregon!

We are asking communities to make butterflies and put up displays in your community. Check out our website for resources, tips on setting it up, and 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

We are also asking you to deliver your butterflies to local elected officials to let them know that you care about the kids in detention and to encourage them to act.


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!!

Our key partners are the Alphabet Rockers, Amnesty International, Destiny Arts Center, The Center for Cultural Power (formerly CultureStrike) MomsRising / MamásConPoder, and Tsuru for Solidarity. The line “migration is beautiful” comes from the Center for Cultural Power. We are grateful to Favianna Rodriguez for letting us use her beautiful art!

We are officially a member of Intersection for the Arts. Intersection for the Arts is a historic arts nonprofit that provides people working in arts and culture with fiscal sponsorship and resources to grow. Thank you, Intersection for the Arts!


On the Wings of Love
by Julie Gordon Shearer

Julie Gordon Shearer is a songwriter from Berkeley, Ca who was so inspired by The Butterfly Effect that she wrote this song. We are so glad to know that artists of all types are moved to use their talents to be activists and give even more voice to those who have none. Thank you Julie for your art and your support. You can listen here: Song performed by Bella Ellis -Voice Jackson Allen – Guitar Pictured here: Julie Shearer and Russ Ellis hosting a butterfly wheel on their front porch.

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