For Immediate Release, May 2010
Contact: Mark Tardif
Associate Director of College Communications, Unity College
207-948-3131 ext. 292
Unity College 2011 Commencement – May 7 at 1 p.m.
Media Brief and Invitation for Coverage
Unity College to Hold Greenest Commencement in its History, Author and Sustainable Agriculture Activist Gary Nabhan is Commencement Speaker
Unity, Maine – May, 2011 – In 2010, Unity College proudly raised the bar on how green a college commencement could be. For its planned 2011 commencement exercises, the environmental college in Unity, Maine, will attempt to improve upon its previous achievement.
Will Unity College once again host the greenest college commencement in the United States? Whether or not any college or university can support such a claim, the fact remains that officials are certain the 2011 exercises will be the greenest in its 45-year history.
Unity College commencement exercises are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 7, in the gymnasium on the college campus, 90 Quaker Hill Road, Unity, Maine. Author and Sustainable Agriculture Activist Gary Nabhan will serve as the commencement speaker.
NOTE TO MEDIA: The full text of Gary Nabhan’s address and the address by President Mitch Thomashow will be available on Saturday, or if you need it before, contact [email protected]
Degrees awarded will be:
Associate Degree 1 (arts) and 2 (sciences)
Bachelor of Arts 1
Bachelor of Science 110
Citation Recipients will be Slow Money, a network of entrepreneurs and investors who wish to coordinate their work to promote healthy eating and prosperous, organic farms; Veggies for All, a Unity, Maine based community agricultural project; Samuel Kaymen, founder of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA); MOO Milk, Maine’s own organic milk company; and author Gary Nabhan.
Full details of the 2011 commencement festivities, honorary degrees and awards are available online at www.unity.edu.
2011 Commencement Procession
“We believe that our 2011 commencement exercises will surpass the previous year, which was among the greenest held anywhere in the United States in 2010,” noted Summer Programs and Events Coordinator Kate Grenier. “Our theme this year is agriculture and local food systems. This theme ties in very well with our growing new major, Agriculture, Food and Sustainability.”
“Unity College has been widely recognized for its approach to sustainability,” said Associate Director of College Communications Mark Tardif. “The term sustainability refers to practices that can be continued indefinitely without adversely impacting future generations’ quality of life. From recycling to building practices and now to commencement, Unity College provides numerous examples of environmental leadership in a complex world.”
Unity College Approach for a Sustainable Commencement
In its continuing quest to increase environmental awareness, Unity College implemented a number of initiatives intended to make the events of the 2011 commencement exceptionally sustainable. The College examined many aspects of its commencement, from the food offered to the carbon emission reductions needed in order to reduce the environmental impact of the commencement and related festivities.
Highlights of Unity’s sustainable commencement include:
E-invitations sent to families and friends
Composting event wastes
100% post-consumer recycled diplomas
One program provided per family and per graduate for fewer printed programs
Caps and gowns made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic bottles. Fabric spun from molten plastic pellets. It takes an average of 23 plastic bottles to make each graduation gown.
Local and organic foods comprise nearly three quarters of the total food prepared
Programs printed on 100% post-consumer paper or alternative fibers
Sustainability information offered through educational signs/posters
Efficient fluorescent lighting utilized in gym
Catering rents reusable plates, flatware, glassware, cloth linens for less trash disposal
Potted decorations borrowed or replanted after use throughout campus
Local and organic or sustainable graduate gifts
Green cleaning using eco-friendly products
Unity College purchases 100% of its electrical power from Maine-based renewable resources.
Graduates will pledge to live sustainably
Pledging to Live Sustainably
The class of 2011, family members and alumni will be asked to pledge to learn more about how they can reduce their carbon footprint, decrease their use of energy and responsibly dispose of any waste generated during commencement weekend and in their lives.
“Commencement is about the transformational journey over four years to receiving a degree from America’s Environmental College,” Grenier explained. “When students choose to attend Unity they are making a lifelong commitment, and Unity College reflects those values.”
Graduates receive a sapling tree as a symbol of their lifelong commitment to the environment and growth throughout their life. They will also receive a copy of Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail by Gary Paul Nabhan, Kraig Kraft, and Kurt Michael Friese.
Grenier noted that Unity College is “an environmentally focused academic community dedicated to those who seek to live their passion and make a positive difference in people’s lives and the natural world.”
Text of Citations:
You might have heard of Slow Food, an international movement designed to promote healthy and relaxed eating, organic agriculture, and an appreciation of local cuisine. But you may not have heard of Slow Money.
Slow Money is a network of entrepreneurs and investors who wish to coordinate their work to promote healthy eating and prosperous, organic farms.
Bonnie Rukin, their coordinator, writes: “We are an intentionally diverse group of people from many Maine sectors and communities with a focus on support of sustainable local food systems.”
With inspiration from Slow Money national, Slow Money Maine “is focused on matching investors to forms of investing in local sustainable food systems through existing and innovative approaches that include banks, non-profits and other entities.” This includes many opportunities for financial and technical support, education about the wise use of money, and various networking opportunities.
Unity College commends Slow Money Maine for their inspiring, practical, and creative approach to entrepreneurship in service of community.
Veggies for All
What do these three actions have in common? Grow more local, organic food. Provide vegetables for hunger relief. Organize a community.
Those are the goals and accomplishments of Veggies for All, a Unity-based community agricultural project. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, Tim Libby, Sara Trunzo, and a host of Unity students and community volunteers work tirelessly to grow organic vegetables, increasing the availability of high quality nutritious food, both for the Unity College campus and the local food pantry.
Veggies for All was started in 2007 by Tim Libby and other young farmers who believed that local agriculture could relieve regional hunger. Under the fiscal sponsorship of the Unity Barn Raisers, further support from Jane’s Trust, and the support of the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry and Unity College, they are making an important impact on the region.
During the 2010 growing season, Veggies for All grew over 15,000 pounds of cabbage, potatoes, winter squash, dry beans, and carrots, among other vegetables. Their harvest reached over 1,500 low-income neighbors, many of who are children or the elderly, providing access to fresh, whole foods.
Veggies for All’s garden plots are located on the Unity College campus and in the town of Unity, in previously underutilized agricultural areas.
There work is an inspiration for any community, urban or rural, that understands how growing local food is the heart of good will, virtuous work, and a better quality of life. Unity College is proud to be a partner and we commend their exemplary efforts.
For Samuel Kaymen, organic agriculture, local food, and sustainable living is the heart and soul of a healthy community. His legacy is basic but profound. Organic agriculture is the best measure of the health of not just a community but an entire culture, and his life work is devoted to making that vision a reality. He demonstrates this with his own family farm, and by leading educational outreach efforts for anyone who wishes to learn more about organic agriculture as a way of life.
However, it’s the essence of Samuel Kaymen that matters most, a compelling blend of urban and rural, Brooklyn and New England, farmer and educator, student and mentor, homesteader and visionary. His personal warmth, enthusiasm, and exceptional common sense have drawn so many people to his vision.
In 1971, he founded NOFA, the Northeast Organic Farmers Association, of which he was President for ten years. The Rural Education Center, active throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, was one of the region’s first and foremost organic farming school, attracting a global core of devoted students.
This global reach became even more crucial to Samuel’s work when he joined the board of EARTH University in Costa Rica. As he writes, “I never imagined in my wildest dreams that there could be such a place as EARTH, an institution founded on moral principles with the purpose of helping and serving the poor.” Samuel helped EARTH understand the necessity of ecologically-based, organic agriculture as intrinsic to that vision.
He also served on the board of Sustainable Harvest International for twelve years, an organization that trains and provides tool to overcome poverty while restoring our tropical forests through organic agriculture.
Unity College presents Samuel Kaymen with an honorary doctorate for his extraordinary accomplishments in organic agriculture, ecologically-based farming, sustainable food systems, and his ability to link that vision to social justice, environmental education, international peace, and community well-being.
Do you know where your milk comes from? Maine’s Own Organic Milk Company, otherwise known as MOO Milk, wants to make sure that you do. Equally important are their efforts to insure that Maine’s organic family farms have a production and distribution network that insures their viability, the consumer’s well-being, and the economic vitality of local agriculture.
As you peruse the MOO Milk web site, you are intrigued at their network of family farms, their high quality organic standards, their animal treatment approach, and their emphasis on public education. Most impressive is the link between community wellness and economic viability.
Their stated mission is “to educate the consuming public on the value and intrinsic worth of preserving the local family farm while developing a line of premium quality milk products that support this mission.
Their goal is to “provide a stable and profitable market” for their network of family farms, allowing them to thrive by virtue of working together.
They are an important and crucial experiment in making grassroots, organic, local agriculture intrinsic to the future of Maine. Unity College commends their efforts and recognizes their accomplishments.
When you become familiar with Gary Nabhan’s work, you are immediately struck by three remarkable accomplishments. First is the sheer scope of his interests and expertise. Second is the ecological and moral foundation of his approach to thinking and writing. Third is his vigorous effort to live those ideals.
On Gary’s fine website, you can find the following pithy expression under his name: “From the field, to the campfire, to the kitchen.” Such simplicity is the source of his uncommon brilliance and insight. A true polymath, Gary’s remarkable expertise encompasses ecology, ethnobotany, field natural history, conservation biology, sustainable agriculture, ethnography, cross-cultural conflict resolution, and environmental education. He has written twenty-three books, covering a wonderful blend of topics, ideas, and experiences. All of his books are accessible, beautifully written, delicately presented, and laced with illustration, photography, and poetry. More remarkable still is that his work never repeats itself.
Yet there are emergent, unfolding, reiterative themes and patterns—how cultural diversity and biodiversity are inextricably linked, how sustainable agriculture builds community and social justice, how science and art mutually reinforce ecological learning, why travel and adventure bring you closer to home, and perhaps most importantly, how one can find a universe of learning and wonder by investigating a topic to its ecological and cultural core.
Gary’s sets an example that transcends his books. He is a role model for how to live a meaningful life. As an orchard-keeper, forager, explorer, scientist, artist, and Ecumenical Franciscan brother, he has a powerful place-based orientation to serve multicultural community. He is a collaborator, communicator, educator, and administrator, as well as a tireless advocate for people who work the land. His networks are phenomenal. His influence is profound.
Gary’s list of awards is exceptional, highlighted by the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, and the Lannan Literary Award. However the most revealing signature of his influence is to watch what happens when he walks into a room of his peers. They all want to hear what it is he has to say. They know his words will inspire, support, nourish, and feed their spirit and intellect.
The senior banquet will be held on Friday, May 6, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Unity College gymnasium. Grenier expects 75% of the food served will be from local and sustainable sources. Associate Professor Tim Peabody ’81, a former Colonel of the Maine Warden Service, will deliver an address. For details contact Kate Grenier at (207) 948-3131, ext. 301, or e-mail [email protected]
Unity College is a small private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education which emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.
In 2010, Unity College was named to the top 30 of the Washington Monthly college rankings, and was one of eighteen U.S. colleges and universities named to The Princeton Review’s Green Rating Honor Roll.