The American Dream: A Tropical Butterfly House?

by Travis Mateer

What’s the American Dream? I like to check in with Wikipedia when it comes to these kinds of questions. Here is what I found:

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

I find this definition to be totally adorable. Also, totally not applicable to reality.

Today the Missoulian is reporting on someone else’s dream, and it’s one I’ve written about before. Here is the most recent news on A TROPICAL HOUSE FOR BUTTERFLIES! From the link:

Imagine escaping a dreary Missoula winter day and stepping into a steamy tropical paradise where creatures from foreign lands flutter about your face.

That’s the vision that Jen and Glenn Marangelo, the founders of the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium, have for a new project slated to be built at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.

If Jen and Glenn have a vision of a steamy tropical paradise for bugs in Missoula, Montana, that’s just fine. They should work hard, spend ONLY their money, and build that tropical paradise for bugs.

But that’s not how dreams come to fruition in Missoula. No, the engine for realizing dreams almost ALWAYS includes asking other people for money. This project is no different:

On Saturday, the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium, along with the Healthy Acres Healthy Communities Foundation, announced a $5 million capital campaign to bring the state’s first tropical butterfly house and education garden to the finish line.

I am SO EXCITED that people like Jen and Glenn and their Engen-enabled Fairgrounds crony, Emily Bentley, are going FULL STEAM with this project. I think it represents the STRENGTH of our community that things like pandemics and central-bank-driven hyperinflation aren’t even PAUSING this amazing community asset that we so desperately NEED.

Dreams really can come true, Missoula. It just takes A LOT of other people’s money to make it happen.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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2 Responses to The American Dream: A Tropical Butterfly House?

  1. Morpho says:

    “The butterfly house is a nonprofit organization and is not being built with any taxpayer dollars”

    Nothing wrong with nonprofits raising private funds to fulfill their mission. People donating to butterflies and bugs is their business, not yours. An American dream doesn’t need your approval. And kids — even yours — will love it if they get a chance to explore it. Glenn and Jen are really sweet people. You should talk to people and get to know them before you denigrate them in public.

  2. J. Kevin Hunt says:

    Mr. Mateer, I am appalled by the un-Missoulian credo you are pushing here. The problem with the Tropical Butterfly House is not that it is raising lots of private largesse to construct the thing. The problem is that Mayor Engen and our City Council are not using Tax Increment Financing to build it, preferably where some stupid historic houses with cheap apartments currently sit. If only the Butterfly House incorporated an upper floor with luxury condos, it would be a perfect project for MRA to subsidize. Why aren’t you advocating that kind of positive public policy that would attract wealthy visitors from near and far who would spend lots of money we could capture in a local option sales tax? Honestly, you seem not to understand a thing about contemporary urbanism and the Highest and Best Use of land.

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