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Forte: A celebration of our smallest heroes


A honeybee sits on a flower, emblematic of our smallest superheroes.

An ad in the employment section of a Superheroes Today publication would likely include notable useful superpowers like invisibility, super-strength, flying, shape-shifting, X-ray vision, impenetrable armor, telekinesis and super-stretching abilities.

Those posting or looking would envision larger-than-life characters, often muscle-laden, perhaps wearing capes and occasionally “mild-mannered” until inspired to transform into a superhero, say, Clark Kent into Superman.

In tiny print, perhaps perceivable only to those with ultraviolet capabilities (such as butterflies), would be one other useful superpower: transferring pollen from one flower to another, otherwise known as pollination. Because of this superpower, which leads to fertilization, we have seeds and fruits and the next generation of plants.

Pollinators — the superheroes of the plant kingdom, as aptly titled in an upcoming lecture by entomologist David James — play a key role in our food supply, local economy and ecosystem. According to the Pollinator Partnership (, they provide one in every three bites of food we eat. Every season, pollination delivers billions of dollars in economic value.

During the 2018-19 season, “Heroes!,” the Yakima Symphony Orchestra has, on stage, been musically exploring and celebrating varied aspects of heroism. Off-stage, in collaboration with the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy, Essencia Artisan Bakery, the Larson Gallery, artists, scientists and our community, we are doing the same with pint-sized superheroes living and working among us every day.

The collaboration, “Pollinators — A Hero’s Life,” includes March-through-May art exhibits at Essencia and the Cellar Gallery at Gilbert Cellars and, starting earlier this week, six free pollinator-themed events at five venues culminating with the YSO season finale concert, “Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life),” at 7:30 p.m. May 25 at The Capitol Theatre.

If the newspaper classifieds had a Superheroes Today employment section, it would read something like this:

Pollinators: Must love flowers. Shift work, primarily daytime but evening hours available for certain moths and bats. Some extensive travel expected, especially for monarch butterflies and ladybugs. Compensation: All the food you can find and eat.

It’s a hero’s life!

Learn more about the Yakima Symphony Orchestra at

• This column was written by the staff of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Learn more at

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