Unity College plans Sandy benefit

Nov 09, 2012

Unity — In a mission that dovetails with the environmental and community service focus of the student body, first-year students at Unity College have organized a relief effort for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

A fundraiser will be held Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Unity College Centre for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot St. The event will feature a concert by recording artists The Coloradas, a Maine-based bluegrass band; information about hurricane relief; and presentations by Unity College students.

Roy Davis and Bernie Nye of The Coloradas, both Waldo County natives, comprise the songwriting team that wrote the critically acclaimed albums “Deadweight” and “We Are A Lightning Bolt.” Tickets are $10 and may be reserved by calling 948-7469. For more information or to offer a donation with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting hurricane relief, contact professor John Zavodny at 948-9129 or jzavodny@unity.edu.

At the center of relief efforts are a group of students are enrolled in a class called The Unity Experience, which stresses Unity values including community engagement and environmental responsibility.

“While climate change experts would not say that Hurricane Sandy specifically is a direct result of global climate change, we can say with certainty that we are living with a changing climate and that violent events like Sandy are going to become more-and-more frequent and intense,” said Zavodny.

Unity College students are learning not only the science of climate change and how to mitigate it, but also how to respond to the human emergencies and crisis that results from such an event, he said.

Responding to weather related crisis is nothing new to members of the Unity College community. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Zavodny led a group of Unity students to the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans for hands-on disaster relief efforts. Recent years also have brought a contingent of volunteers for tornado relief efforts in Brushy, Tenn. Right now, students are planning the specifics of a relief trip to the New York area.

“It’s really gratifying to work with young people at this stage of their development and watch them develop concern for people and commitment to service,” said Zavodny.

He added that Sara Trunzo, Unity’s Food and Farm Projects Coordinator, was a student during the planning of the Katrina hurricane relief effort; now she is a staff member working with a new generation of young people.

Sarah Cunningham, an assistant professor, coordinates The Unity Experience course. Both Zavodny and Cunningham stress that the course is focused on the sustainability science core concepts of adaptation and resilience. Turning intellectual exercises into boots-on-the-ground response to environmental and human crisis teaches students, empowers them to make a difference and demonstrates that sustainability science concepts are not just concepts, but have real implications for real people who are alive suffering today.

Community Radio WERU-FM is the media partner for the effort, which has been dubbed ME HEARTS NY. Zavodny and Trunzo co-host “Mid-Coast Currents,” a WERU public affairs program covering Knox and Waldo counties.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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