Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Music Making at Unity House

The musical genius of The Unity Chorus visited Unity House on April 9th.  Chorus members are yet another example of Unity's unsung (excuse the pun) heroes. Rebecca Zerlin, club president, says many of the members sang in high school, but there is no experience necessary to join this group.

Under director Ciara Hargrove, and with the help of faculty advisor Janet Preston (who also sings) members put in many hours of practice, ultimately bringing the magic of chorale music to campus events like the Spring Preview and Earth Day as well as to community audiences like the residents of Clearview Manor.

Ciara first took the chorus through a variety of vocal warm ups. Heather, our golden retriever, was kind enough to act as a sort of assistant director, using her tail as a metronome to help keep a steady tempo. While the chorus is currently composed of all women, they would welcome men.  Three lower register singers -- Janet, Shalonda, and Katie -- now take the tenor parts. As Bethany Decker says, they do a good job of working with what they have, but the addition of male voices would expand the range of the chorus.

My favorite song of the evening was "The Night the Pinatas Came Back," which tells the story of vengeful pinatas, ending with the admonition, "Violence and candy don't mix." Sound (sorry about that pun) advice, in my view.
And singing isn't the only area where these folks exhibit creativity. On April 19th from noon to 1:30 in the Tozier Gymnasium, the Unity Chorus will hold the most inventive fundraiser I've heard of: faculty members Emma Creaser and Barry Woods have volunteered to be duct-taped to a wall, and the club will be selling duct tape at $1.00 per yard. Students who've found themselves tied up in knots over marine biology or statistics, here's your chance!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Search and Rescue at Unity House

The Search and Rescue Club hosted a talk by Lieutenant Keven Adam at Unity House on April 2, 2012.  Lt. Adam has been with the Maine Warden Service since September 14, 1992.  He grew up in Marlboro, Massachusetts, and most importantly for us, he is an alum of Unity College, having graduated in 1988.

Eighteen club members, including president Melanie Renell, attended. The purpose of the evening's meeting was to give club members information and insight into search and rescue protocols from Lt. Adam, who serves as the state's search and rescue coordinator. Lt. Adam's  first search and rescue experience was with Tim Peabody, now an Associate Professor in the Conservation Law Enforcement program here at the college. "They didn't have this club when I was at Unity," he says, "but I wish they had!"

Unity College Search and Rescue Club members are an all-volunteer, non-profit service provided by the students, faculty, and staff of Unity College.   The rewards are intangible, but extraordinary. "It's very exciting and very uplifting," as Keven Adam says, "to find someone alive."
Remarking on the role of his college education in his professional life, Lt. Adam said "Unity taught me everything I needed to know about the Warden's test except discretion -- for that you have to go out and ride with experienced people." He feels that the diversity of environmental perspectives at Unity prepared him for his job because he sees people from all of those perspectives in his work. He advises students who want to rise to the level of lieutenant or higher in law enforcement to take writing, business, and accounting courses.  "I need those skills for writing and managing grants" he says. "College increases a person's writing, oral communication, and public speaking skills -- skills game wardens use every day."

Club members agreed that future students may be inspired to work for the Warden Service by television shows like North Woods Law, a production of the Animal Planet network. This show features our state's wardens in a variety of situations, including wildlife rescue and poaching investigations. The club, however, participates only in search and rescue operations. Professor Mick Womersley serves as club advisor, having experience as a mountain rescue specialist in addition to his PhD in policy studies. He is also the Blogmeister for the Unity College Search and Rescue Blog. The college community values the club's work.  We all feel uplifted by their courage, dedication, and professionalism.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sugar Makers -- Tap That!

Led by their superbly organized president, Jen Moran, The Sugar Makers Club held their March 26th meeting at Unity House.

Club business focused mostly on scheduling and signing up volunteers for a wide variety of events, including the popular Pancake Breakfast and Earth Day. Other tasks included taking buckets down, removing taps from trees, and cleaning this equipment for storage until the next season. There was no shortage of volunteers; everyone at the meeting was eager to participate.
Club members voiced some concern over whether they would have enough syrup for the Pancake Breakfast. Jen reported that the unusual heat wave in mid-March resulted in a short season for sap collection. Although the club still had about 50 gallons of sap left to boil as of the date of the meeting, it expects to produce only 4 gallons of maple syrup this year as opposed to the 14 gallons it produced last year. A recent Associated Press article in the Maine Sunday Telegram indicates that the heat wave produced similar problems in states as far away as Wisconsin.

The club boils sap and stores equipment in the Sugar Shack, pictured at right, which was built by club members in 2007. Sap runs when temperatures fall below freezing at night and rise to above freezing during the day, so the season here usually runs from the end of February until early April. Stephen popped in to tell us that climate change will affect this pattern. For a very readable study on this topic from the Consortium for Atlantic Regional Assessment , click here.

It's easy to see why the Sugar Makers are a popular club at Unity College: they have a diverse and dedicated membership, they produce a highly-valued, traditional New England treat, and they also make some pretty stylish jackets available for members who complete a certain number of service hours. Deborah was gracious enough to model her jacket in these photos.
Stephen and I will both be looking forward to the Pancake Breakfast this year and to checking out the Sugar Shack in upcoming seasons!