In late March 2021, Bob Lambert and the team at the John J. McCarthy Observatory in New Milford, Connecticut launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to transform Galileo’s Garden into a true native pollinator garden. The garden surrounds the observatory and is full of New England native plants that support the entire food chain required by native pollinators and insect species to survive. The team reached their crowdfunding goal in June and received a matching grant from Sustainable CT, our crowdgranting partner that provides fast, flexible funding to support wide-ranging sustainability initiatives throughout the State of Connecticut. The garden now serves as a vibrant habitat for pollinators, as well as a colorful teaching garden for students and the community.
At Patronicity, we believe that passionate individuals can spur change in their communities. We refer to those individuals as Patrons in the City, dedicating their time, sweat, and tears to building vibrant communities. We recently spoke with Bob Lambert to learn more about his passion for community and how he serves as a Patron in the City.
About Bob Lambert
“I am a transplanted Michigander, and have lived in the beautiful area of Western Connecticut for 40 years. I am a retired engineer and IBM technology project manager, with a widely varied career. We have three children and four amazing grandchildren and we love outdoor endeavors year-round. My wife and I love to travel, and have had many outdoor travel adventures, with New England being our favorite region to explore. I began a serious interest in astronomy in the early 90’s, and found it a fascinating field. I was one of the founders of the McCarthy Observatory, starting the project in 1998, and have been helping it evolve continuously ever since. As the observatory became a reality in 2000 and beyond, I found that exciting students of all ages in astronomy was a great way to spend my retirement years. My role in the community is to oversee operations and new projects in a totally volunteer organization with staffing from over a dozen local towns. I also host visits, mentor students, and act as the treasurer of the nonprofit organization that manages the observatory.”
Q: Why do you love where you live?
A: “I love where I live for several important reasons. It was a wonderful place to raise our family with beautiful lakes, rolling hills, four seasons for outdoor fun, and plenty of space to roam. Our towns are small enough to get to know people well and never feel crowded. The school systems are excellent, and very highly rated in US rankings. The populace exhibits that “small town” feeling of community: helping and supporting and caring about one another, having regular fairs and celebrations that are traditional to New England. Lastly, I love the history of the region, which dates back to the very beginnings of the country and has helped shape the culture of independence and local focus that is so endearing to all.”
Q: How has the community responded to the project and your efforts to build a vibrant community?
A: “The community has supported our projects fully from the very beginning, with donations of skills, funding, teaching support, and leaders opening doors and paving the way for us to be included as a serious destination for science education, special events, adult education, and continuing expansions, including building an addition, an outside SkyDeck, a giant sundial, a true scale solar system that goes through the entire town, and recently in making our extensive pollinator meadow and garden that wraps around the entire facility. Teachers respond by holding classes in the garden at every opportunity. Scout leaders have brought countless troops of girls and boys to enjoy all we have to offer. The pollinator meadow and garden habitats have been widely embraced as wonderful examples of the right way to help in the survival and health of our vitally important bird, bee and butterfly populations. We believe it will become a real magnet for learning about how to support the native environment.”
Q: What do you hope community members take away from this project?
A: “We hope that students and parents will gain foundational knowledge of the importance of pollinator habitats throughout the area towns and will partner with us to gain experience and knowledge of how to initiate, manage, and grow these vital resources in every town, land trust, and private properties in our region. We have had great success, and have a core of respected Master Gardeners with skills and energy that can lead the way. This “existence proof” project is gaining notoriety, and we hope the next few years will make it a center of expertise that keeps on growing. Being registered with the National Wildlife Federation and Pollinator Pathways gives us legitimacy as a well-respected resource.”
Q: What was a challenge along the way that your Project Coach and Patronicity helped you to overcome?
A: “The Project Coach [Camryn] was a full partner in mentoring me on the project from beginning to end. How to administer and promote the fundraising was pretty bewildering to me at the start, but my Coach was understanding, patient, very responsive and supportive, and made it all very simple as we got beyond the startup. The Patronicity leadership team helped me understand the bigger picture of the role of Patronicity in nonprofit funding, so I could clearly explain the authenticity of the organization as I met with potential donors. They gave me great confidence throughout the process. The biggest challenge was making the website look professional and compelling. My Coach was hugely valuable in that!”
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead
Become a patron to your city by launching your project today or donating to a project in your area at www.Patronicity.com.