Mikayla Butchart was tired of living in New York City. She wanted a quieter life, one where she could "have more space" and "refill her creative well."
After spending 15 years away from Santa Rosa, most recently living in the Big Apple earning a Masters degree in illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York, she had an urge to return home.
"I started to feel attracted to Santa Rosa again. I wanted to be a part of the creative culture here," Butchart said, who moved back two months ago. "There’s a lot of very cool people doing a lot of very cool things."
After the wildfires burned a path of destruction through her hometown, she wanted to do something to help. "I felt so helpless all week," she said. "After hearing all the volunteer shelters were overstaffed and financial donations were preferred, I felt like I had no way of lending my support beyond my immediate family."
That’s when the artist put her skills to work.
She spent three days sketching page after page of roses and clasped hands until she felt she had the image just right. "I experimented with different rose imagery. I wanted to capture the compassion and collective support this community has been showing in the wake of this disaster," Butchart said.
The end result is a poignant image of two hands, joined in an embrace, resembling rose petals. The image would become the ROSE-illience enamel pin, offered at $15 each, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to wildfire victims.
The response was overwhelming.
"My first inquiry to the manufacturer was a quote for 100 units; I was not expecting the pin to go viral and generate this level of response," Butchart said.
The pins have been shared more than 1,800 times on Facebook and have generated about $20,000 that Butchart is donating to the City of Santa Rosa’s official relief fund, Redwood Credit Union North Bay Relief Fund and Redwood Empire Food Bank.
"I’ve been overwhelmed with messages from people in our community saying the image brought them to tears."
The challenge for the community moving forward will be one of healing and rebuilding. For Butchart’s efforts her biggest battle will be a legal one.
"I think the ongoing battle will be ensuring that the ROSE-ilience image I designed remains in my hands and doesn’t get reproduced for profit elsewhere," she said.
Butchart has received hundreds of requests to license the pin image for T-shirts and other merchandise. She's declined all of them, even though everyone who has inquired has been hoping to help contribute to the fundraising efforts.
"I copyrighted the image as part of my normal routine before I published it," Butchart said.
"Navigating licensing agreements and ensuring all the funds are for charity at this volume is more than I can handle right now. Keeping it under tight control will help me ensure it’s not infringed on for profit elsewhere, and that the proceeds it generates will be diverted back to our community," she said.
In response to enormous demand, Butchart is working on making T-shirts and other rose-emblazoned items
"The ROSE-ilience fundraiser has taken over my life for the moment. My family has to remind me to eat and sleep, but I am so happy to be giving my undivided attention to this task," she said.
"It’s fitting that our town is named for a beautiful, tenacious perennial plant,” Butchart said. “Roses grow back every year."