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…


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!

Our Sponsorship With The South Burlington Energy Prize

This year PinSource is a proud sponsor of the South Burlington Energy Prize; a competition headed up by Georgetown University. The Prize challenges participating communities to tap their imagination and creativity, and work together with their local governments, residents, and utilities toward  reducing energy consumption long-term. The Participants are motivated by a $5 million incentive to engage their community and increase energy efficiency.

Semifinalist_Map_v8_web_front_3The road to becoming a finalist was no easy task. Each town participating submitted a 90 page application outlining the cities’ plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  They had to come up with scaleable and innovative projects that could then be shared across the country and used in communities nationwide interested in making the same efforts. Green Mountain Power must submit monthly energy consumption reports to Georgetown and those numbers will be measured against their baseline measurement, which took place January 1st, 2015. They have until June 2017 to implement their strategies for increased energy efficiency, and the finalist that is the most successful wins.

More than half of the total energy produced in the U.S. is wasted due to inefficiencies. We need serious, breakthrough thinking to improve America’s energy standing for the future. Regardless of the energy source, increased efficiency is a positive step and there is significant room for improvement. By tackling one part of the problem where it relates to household and municipal energy use, South Burlington and the Georgetown University Energy Prize is positioned to be the catalyst for long-term, positive change. Local communities and cities have long been the incubators for the practical implementation of innovative approaches to difficult problems. That innovation is already evident by looking at the current energy practices of  South Burlington.

PinSource is proud to be sponsoring such an important endeavor for change. The lapel pins provided read:  ‘Wear this pin proudly to show you are helping to unite the community around a common goal that benefits us all.’

Want to Know What You Can do?
Download South Burlington’s NO COST energy saver checklist for Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter
Follow these great energy saving tips
Live in Vermont? Check out your options for solar energy

To learn more about the Georgetown University Energy Prize and to track the competition’s progress, visit or follow the prize on Twitter or Facebook.

Interested in having lapel pin made for your cause or fundraising event? Contact us for a quote on a custom lapel pins to meet your needs. If you’re short on time, check out our new QuickPin service. We can deliver lapel pins that fit the QuickPin guidelines in as little as 5 Business Days! 

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.

Shatter the Stigma: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Let’s face it, sometimes it can be hard to admit you need help. It can be even more difficult when the struggle involves something that carries a negative stigma. The stigma associated with mental illness can often be as hard (if not harder) to deal with than the symptoms. This may prevent those affected from speaking out or seeking help in fear of feeling judged.

s3_93772_bEach year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. During the month of May, the National Alliance on Mental Illness are working to bring awareness to this issue. While feeling sad, stressed or worried is certainly a regular part of life, these same emotions -depending on severity and duration- can also be a symptom of deeper issues involving our mental health. This is why it’s more important than ever that we all work together to break down misconceptions and promote recovery for healthy communities.

To answer some questions concerning mental health awareness, we reached out to Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Jessica Rothman.  Jessica is based in Chicago and has been practicing Marriage and Family Therapy since 2011. We’ve asked her to help us  join the conversation about the stigma attached to mental illness.

PS: What does it mean to have a mental illness?

JR: Everybody struggles with mental health from time to time. We can feel depressed about our job or about something happening in our life which is completely normal. What makes it different for those who have a more serious issue is when it starts disrupting every aspect of our lives. That is when it’s important to ask yourself : Is this fleeting or consistent? If it’s consistent it can indicate a more serious mental health issue.

PS: Why do you think it’s difficult for those who suffer from mental illness to come forward?

JR:It is Stigma. In our society we are programed to put our emotions to the side. It’s about success being strong; it stems from our Puritan ideals of not wanting to look weak.

blog-picI like to use the analogy of a car: You are on the highway of life and every so often you need to bring your car in for an oil change or a tune up. Sometimes it can take awhile to get repairs, other times it is only a quick check in for fine tuning. That is how I see therapy. It’s important to check in on your emotional health from time to time and talk about things that you might need help getting through – that can also mean the good things too.

PS: What are first steps someone might take if they are concerned about their mental health?

JR: The first thing to ask yourself is is this fleeting or consistent? Is this pervasive in every aspect of your life? If it affects your life all the time it’s important to seek the help you need. If you sprained your ankle, the first thing you would do would be to see a doctor. It’s important to think about this when it comes to your mental health as well and seek the professional help you might need, just as you would for a physical issue.

PS: What advice would you give to families of those suffering from a mental illness?

JR:That it is a normal thing and it can be worked through. Less than 1% of mental health issues last a lifetime. It is something that your loved one can work through. It’s important to support them and remind them there is nothing wrong with who they are.

PS: Since May is Mental Health Awareness month, what stigma would you like to shatter?

JR:The media like to paint a untrue picture of what it means to see a therapist. It s not sitting on couch telling an unresponsive person your problems like Signund Freud. It is about sharing the good and bad feelings in your life. It is a collaborative experience that is solution focused, and sometimes only lasts a few months for some people.

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