National Park Lapel Pins: Art to Recall Your Adventures

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir.

It’s summer again and for some that means gassing up the car and hitting the road for the iconic American road trip. And what road trip is complete without a visit to one of our beautiful national parks

The magnificence of our national parks can be experienced in countless ways. Some are content to quietly stand before the greatness of the parks and commit the moment to memory. Others capture the moment with a camera, hoping to relive that sensation each time they look upon the photo. And for others, they commit themselves to immortalizing the beauty of the parks’ by purchasing and wearing a beautifully designed lapel pin. The lapel pins can be purchased at every national park across the country. They are beautifully and simply crafted pieces of art usually capturing an iconic feature or a simple piece of landscape of the park. The colors used and the beautiful landscape represented on each pin makes them quite sought after and collectable and the perfect piece of memorabilia from a special trip.

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The beauty and grandeur of  the parks have inspired many major works of art, photography, and literature. One of the most iconic works of photography were that of Ansel Adams’s taken in Yosemite National Park. Adams’s images of ageless trees and monumental mountains evoke a realm of timeless beauty preserved in national parks. The beautiful black an white photographs were the first of there time and the start of a larger campaign to protect and preserve the parks. Some of these images are recalled and captured on the beautiful collectable lapel pins that are for sale in Yosemite National Park.

2wyqra3l952.jpg.[pt]Ansel Adams first visited Yosemite in 1916, at the age of fourteen, and returned every year throughout his life. It was in Yosemite that he fell in love with Western wilderness and became a photographer; he made more photographs at Yosemite than at any other place. Adams died in 1984 in Monterey, California. Shortly after his death, the Minarets Wilderness south of Yosemite National Park was renamed the Ansel Adams Wilderness in his honor. A special lapel pin was created in honor of the event (see pin pictured left, created by PinSource.)

No matter who you are, there are endless ways to connect with the beauty of national parks. They function as cultural icons of heritage and identity and, for many, they preserve the pristine essence and pioneering spirit of the United States. The lapel pin can serve as a unique way to commemorate your adventures and recall wonderful memories.  Not only are they miniature works of art, they are an affordable and unique way to remember your summer road trip.

To get you started on your lapel pin collecting adventure, here’s a great article  from National Parks Foundation of The Four Ultimate National Park Road Trips

Learn more about Ansel Adams Yosemite.

Why the Poppy?

Lest ye forget, as you prepare for a weekend outside enjoying friends and family, Memorial Day is not just about pulling out the barbecue, opening the pool and watching the town parade. It’s a time to remember those men and women who have sacrificed their lives serving our country.

jw1095-poppy-collection-lapel-pin-badge-with-leaf-bh1A very popular symbol in remembrance of our service men and women is the symbol of the red poppy. We see them posted and pinned on lapels across the country. The poppy has a long association with Remembrance Day, but how did the distinctive red flower worn on the lapel become such a potent symbol of our remembrance of the sacrifices made in past wars? Why the poppy?

The beautiful flower does have a history all of it’s own, and it’s seems that it’s growing habit is one of the main reasons this flower has been adopted as a universal symbol of resilience and regrowth. The field poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is an annual plant, which flowers each year between about May and August. It’s seeds are dispersed on the wind and can lie dormant in the ground for a long time. If the ground is disturbed from the early spring the seeds will germinate and the poppy flowers will grow. In nature, scarlet corn poppies grow in conditions of disturbed earth.  As this relates to war: this is what happened in parts of the front lines; once the fighting disturbed the ground, the poppy seeds lying in the ground began to germinate and grow during the warm weather in the spring and summer months. The fields would then fill up with beautiful red poppies after a battle had been fought. Perhaps, to some, remembering the bloodshed and sacrifice made in these very field during war time…

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The poppy, in its many forms, is sold and worn as a lapel pin on Memorial day in honor of lives sacrificed. Funds are raised through the VFW  and other war Veterans associations by selling  The “Memorial Flower”  lapel pin. The funds are then applied towards supporting those Vetrans in need of help, most especially servicemen and civilians suffering from physical and mental hardship as a result of war. Thus, the scope of the poppy and its connection with the memory of those who have died in war has been expanded to help the living too.

So,  the poppy is a symbol of remembrance, but also of  hope. Some liken their growing habit to the optimism for a world returned to peace after war. It is a flower that has many meanings. Whatever meaning you adopt, wear it proudly for our Veterans this weekend.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day, enjoy & remember….and don’t forget to wear you red poppy lapel pin!

PinSource & Pearl of Africa Series

Pearl of Africa Series, now in its 3rd campaign, is a development through sports initiative that supports the transformational programs of the Uganda Baseball and Softball Association for boys and girls in Uganda. The pins supplied through PinSource are used as a fundraising effort to raise awareness and funds to send equipment, build coaching capacity, and help with transportation costs so kids can travel to play teams from towns across Uganda.10003669_950628988302770_3695988288005092547_o

The effort is lead by Ruth Hoffman who decided to get involved after reading an article in the New York Times  about a Little League team from Uganda who’s dreams were dashed when the U.S. State Dept couldn’t issue the visas due to documentation deficiencies.

Their story soon galvanized supporters from around the world, and the Pearl of Africa Series was born. The series brings little league teams from the United States and Canada to Uganda to play with local teams and witness the positive impact baseball is having. Pearl of Africa Series provides hope and inspiration to children across the country. They create opportunities for kids to come together, share their passion for the game and develop skills that will help them to a better future.

To date, Mrs. Hoffman and Right to Play have so far raised $136,000 to help nurture baseball in this East African nation. As a fundraising effort, PinSource supplied pins that Ruth then sells to make money for this wonderful cause.

We caught up with Ruth via email in Uganda to talk to her about the latest happenings in The Pearl of Africa Series and discuss with her a little bit about how the pins she designed with PinSource played in to what she’s doing.

PS: What motivated you to get involved with the children in Uganda and, ultimately, found Pearl of Africa Series?

RH: I read an article in the New York Times about the Little League team from Uganda who had earned the right to participate in the World Series – the first African team to ever achieve this and a trip of a lifetime for these boys most of whom live in the slums of Kampala. But their dreams were dashed when the U.S. State Dept couldn’t issue the visas due to documentation deficiencies. The story touched me in many ways. I have worked a lot in Africa; baseball is near and dear to my heart – and 2 of my 3 boys live and breathe the sport. The tipping point which propelled me to take action was that the team the Ugandans would have played in that first historic game was the team from Canada – and the team from Canada that year came from Langley BC – just outside of Vancouver where I lived.

It was rather immediate. I decided to find a way to make it up to those boys. It couldn’t be the World Series – but maybe a trip to Canada. I contacted the mayor of Langley and his office was very supportive. But when I finally reached the Coach of the Ugandan team – George Mukhobe – he said it would be the greatest gift for baseball in Uganda – if the Canadian team would come there. After a few hurdles – convincing the parents – finding a charity partner – Right To Play – and raising the funds ($155,000 for educational scholarships, fields, equipment and transportation support) we went to Uganda in January 2012 and spent a wonderful week with the team – on and off the field. We called it the Pearl of Africa Series because Uganda is known as the Pearl of Africa.

Play Ball Uganda 1The Ugandan team beat us 2-1 in the official game – but the Canadian boys and all of their families and fans who came along – including Jimmy Rollins, Gregg Zaun and Derrek Lee, Right To Play, SportsNet, ESPN and other donors – we all agreed it was a storybook ending.

In June 2013 the Canadian team was awarded the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award – and the Governor General flew out to Langley to personally hand each boy their award.

So, we launched Pearl of Africa 2- which continued to support the Uganda Baseball and Softball Association – with equipment, coaching support (baseball and softball) and funds to help the players get to games. They just don’t have the bus money to travel outside of their neighbourhoods. We raised $40,000 in 2013-2014.

This year – with the release of the documentary by US filmmaker Jay Shapiro – Opposite Field – public eyes were once again on us and we decided to launch Pearl of Africa 3 – continuing to support the softball and baseball programs, send equipment and replenish the player transportation fund. A goal of $20,000. Our US partner is Play Global (an amazing organization). Our Canadian charity partner is Commonwealth Games Canada.

PS: You are in Uganda now, what do you do with your time there?

RH: I work as an accountant helping non profit organizations improve their financial management practices. US and Canadian organizations which support projects in Uganda (or anywhere for that matter) need confirmation that their funds are used as intended.

PS: What are the most important things you think Pearl of Africa brings to everyone involved?

RH:The game brings us together!

PS: How do the Pins you designed with PinSource play a roll in supporting what you do?

HR: It’s a very tangible way to remember and document the partnership with the Uganda Baseball and Softball Association.

PS: How do people acquire the pins?

HR: I often have a table at Little League games and Softball Tournaments – to let everyone know that kids in Uganda love to play ball too. I sell the pins there and also have the girls and boys sign balls that we will send to Uganda. It gives them another opportunity of feeling the joy of helping others.

PS:What is the future of Pearl of Africa Series?

HR: I think we will continue sending equipment – but we’re branching out to help Kenya and Tanzania.

PS: What else do you want people to know about what is happening in the organization?

HR: Sports is such an important way to build character in our youth – but in places like Uganda it has the power to mean so much more. It gives kids hope and inspiration that their lives will be better. They are talented athletes – and it’s just a matter of time before doors open to scholarships and professional contracts.

PinSource feels fortunate to have been involved in such a positive and important organization. If you are interested in donating to The Pearl of Africa Series or want to learn more info visit their Facebook page or Common Wealth Website.