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  • Writer's pictureLisanne Finston

The courage of imaginal cells


Monarch chrysalis photo taken by Jenna Bufano, nursing office manager.

Dear community member,


I was introduced recently to something called imaginal cells. When a caterpillar hardens into a chrysalis, its digestive enzymes break its cells down into a chemical soup. While a few of the caterpillar’s structures remain intact, this is when the imaginal cells (which contain the blueprint for the butterfly) awaken.


During metamorphosis, imaginal cells divide rapidly. At first, they are seen as invaders and attacked by the caterpillar’s immune system. Eventually, the imaginal cells guide the dwindling caterpillar cells toward a new beginning. Using the raw materials around them to assemble new structures - wings, legs, eyes, and antennae - imaginal cells shepherd the assembly process, and a new butterfly tenderly, miraculously emerges.


We have lived through three years of a pandemic, societal reckoning with racism, and economic challenges. As we emerge from this cocooned time of uncertainty at Gould Farm, we are committed to coming back together in ways that are healing and hopeful, in support of a sustainable future for Gould Farm and those we serve.


  • This May we will launch a new round of strategic planning. This visioning process brings together members of our board, staff, guests, and key stakeholders to imagine our future, including identifying priorities and action steps to help us get there.


  • We will break ground on a new Roadside Cafe. The new Cafe will serve as a hub of recovery for our guests and a point of connection with our mission for the broader community for decades to come.


  • We will continue to engage in anti-racism education and efforts to become a more inclusive and equitable organization. And we continue to build on the values that have anchored Gould Farm for 110 years while embracing the best practices in mental wellness.


It is only possible for Gould Farm to grow into the future with your support - you, our courageous imaginal cells. Whether you are a donor, volunteer, friend, former guest, or staff, you are our community. It is a privilege to be on this unfolding journey with all of you.


Lisanne Finston, executive director


This letter was written as part of our May 2023 print newsletter and was reprinted here on the blog for anyone not on our paper mailing list.


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