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We appreciate your skepticism, but we attend a lot of parties and from our point of view the April 28 Artists For Humanity fundraiser at the EpiCenter in South Boston’s Fort Point Channel Arts District was over-the-top terrific, inspiring, and really, really fun.

Not only were the hors d’oeuvres, drinks, people, entertainment, and venue top-notch, but the ‘bee’ theme inspired by the documentary film Vanishing of the Bees sent us home with lots to think about. (Click to view the trailer.)

Passed hors d’ouvres from Jules

Jules, a preferred caterer for events at the LEED-certified (i.e, certifiably ‘green’) EpiCenter, demonstrated support for AFH by donating two types of hors d’oeuvres, which were passed on trays decorated with felt bees, stick hives, fresh rosemary and oregano.
Back in the set-up tent it all looked so great we asked Party Chef Keith Swindell and Waiter John Falvy to stop in their tracks to pose with:
Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs with Fig-Balsamic Glaze
Roquefort Cheese on Raisin-and-Nut Crostini with a dollop of Honey fresh from the comb

Trays decorated with beehives and sunflowers captured the spirit of The Greatest Party On Earth

Moments later, John and his wait-staff partner Susan Merriman rode the “honeycomb express” elevator to the second-floor studio, where Jules’ hors d’oeuvres were generating some serious buzz.

John and Susan smilingly accept compliments on Jules’ playful presentation of hors d’oeuvres

Here’s a BEFORE image of one of the bee-themed trays:

Honey fresh from the comb sits atop Roquefort cheese, which sits atop a raisin-and-nut crostini

And here is a (very soon ) AFTER photo, featuring Lo McShay of lolo event designs and key players on Jules’ Social Events team: Director of Business Development Jenny Willig and Events Sales Manager Mimi Deignan, who stands with a tray stripped bare of hors d’oeuvres and ready for replenishment:

                Jules Catering’s Jenny and Mimi say, “There’s more where this came from!”

AFH art and artists

Twenty-one years ago artist-educator-environmentalist-entrepreneur Susan Rodgerson founded the nonprofit Artists For Humanity to provide art programs for underserved youth.

More precisely, AFH’s mission is to bridge “economic, racial, and social divisions by providing under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design.”

How are they doing?

According to an AFH flier we picked up at the party:

  • An estimated annual audience of 1.2 million people view fine art created by AFH apprentices
  • 18,000 vistors to the AFH EipCenter experience the “voice, vision, and virtuosity” of AFH young artists each year.
  • 96% of AFH high-school seniors have gone on to post-secondary education, with the rest entering the work force.
  • $1,055,000 was earned through the production and sale of youth-inspired art and design services, and gallery rentals.
  • AFH art has been purchased by Fidelity Investments, Boston Medical Center, Harvard University, the Federal Reserve Bank–and Jules’ very own Jenny Willig (to name just a few).

Athena E, one of the young Artists For Humanity, stands before fellow-artists’ work

Should you, too, feel inclined to purchase some art, you can do so either by stopping by the EpiCenter when studios are in session (call 617.268.7620, to schedule a visit), or by shopping online at the AFH Shop.

The EpiCenter, South Boston: Birthplace to art

AFH artists work in a bright, airy 23,500 square-foot facility that features renewable technologies and energy efficient systems. Among the cost-efficient and sustainable design features are:

  • passive solar heating
  • aggressive insulation
  • a greywater recycling system
  • creative materials re-use

This last feature, the use of recycled materials, impressed us most when we popped into the powder room and were struck by bathroom furnishings designed by a local artist who made use of debris left over from the EpiCenter’s construction.

             Even the EpiCenter’s mezzanine-level ladies’ room is a work of art 


 Why the ‘honeybee’ theme?

A series of signs posted on the walls of the EpiCenter encapsulated the serious ‘green’ theme underlying The Greatest Party On Earth:

  • The honey bee is responsible for 80% of insect pollination.
  • Researchers estimate that nearly one-third of honey-bee colonies in the country have vanished.
  • One-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants.
  • Bees are are responsible for pollination of approximately one-third of the US’ crop species.
  • Three-quarters of the world’s 250,000 flowering plants, fruits, and vegetables require bee pollination in order to survive.
  • Cattle’s main source of food, alfalfa, is reproduced thanks to bee pollination, and without alfalfa, cattle would starve.

Colony Collapse Disorder

Curious to learn more? You could start by reading the April 20 “Silent Hives” Daily Comment post by New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert  or the Harvard Gazette summary of a soon-to-be-published study by a Harvard School of Public Health researcher. Both describe the alarming phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, in which adult bees abandon hives. And both publications make the case that a commonly used pesticide may be a factor in CCD.

A film documentary that provides yet another take on the topic is Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?:


Penn State promotes honey bee health

In August, 2008 we were lucky to find ourselves in Rock Springs, PA, where we donned protective hoods in order to observe a hands-on presentation by experts from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, which was offered over the course of the University’s annual 3-day exposition, Ag Progress Days.  It was there that we first learned about colony collapse disorder and Penn State’s efforts to help ensure honey bee health.

Beekeeper Craig Cella and Penn State entomologist Maryann Frazer talk ‘colony collapse disorder’

To our untrained eye the queen was barely distinguishable from the workers and drones

To help us keep track of the queen, a Penn State expert applied a harmless yellow dot

Next time a honey bee–or any pollinating insect–flies by, we hope you will join Jules Catering in shouting out a heartfelt “Thank you!”

Photo Credits: Liz Muir