XL Dissent

This past weekend Unity College students rallied alongside the approximate 1,200 students who traveled from 100 colleges and universities throughout the nation to attend XL Dissent.

XL Dissent*not sponsored by Unity College*

We Did It! Solar on the White House


Nearly three years after they committed to do so, the Obama administration is installing solar panels on the White House this week. The administration knows that this is an important symbol to an America desperate for climate leadership. In fact, we told them that in person when a crew of Unity College students teamed up with Bill McKibben and 350.org to launch an epic solar road trip from Unity College to Washington in 2010. Along the way, we rallied the troops in Boston, New York, and DC, before delivering a petition of over 40,000 signatures to the White House Council on Environmental Quality with a simple message for Obama: put solar back on the White House and show real leadership on meaningful climate policy.

Courtyard Panels

Since 1991, Unity College has been the proud steward of the solar hot water panels that were installed on the White House roof by the Jimmy Carter administration in 1979. Those panels were removed during the Reagan administration in 1986 and languished in government storage until Unity’s Peter Marbach secured them and brought them to Unity College. Sixteen of those panels heated water on our own cafeteria roof for over twelve years and many others have been restored by energy lab students and Professor Mick Womersley for museum loan and public display.

Two of those restored panels were featured in the 2010 documentary A Road Not Taken, which followed Unity College (now) alums Sara Trunzo and Jason Reynolds on a solar road trip of their own. The film — by Swiss artists Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller — uses the delivery of those panels to the National History Museum in DC and the Carter Center in Atlanta to explore the unrealized hope for a renewable American energy future.

This current White House solar installation brings us closer to that future. Symbols are important, and solar on the White House is a stirring symbol of climate commitment from the top. May this public statement and the President’s full Climate Action Plan portend even bolder climate leadership to come; our students demand and deserve no less.  Thank you, Mr. President, for heeding their call.

Unity Magazine: Divestment Issue

The fall 2013 issue of our Unity Magazine focuses on Unity’s leadership in the divestment movement from a wide range of perspectives.  The magazine includes articles from guest writers Bill McKibben of 350.org and Dan Apfel of the Responsible Endowments Coalition.  Read on.


Unity College at Forward on Climate

Do the Math, Nov. 13


(click the image above to register with Jesse and get more details)


From the Do The Math website:

This Fall, Bill McKibben and 350.org are going on tour across America to build the movement we need to face the crisis of climate change.

On Nov. 13th, Bill will be in Portland, Maine to lay out the terrifying new math of climate change, explaining the incredible odds we  face, and the difficult path we must walk in the coming years to create a livable future for our planet.

Here are the details:

Where: State Theater, 609 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101
When: Nov. 13th, Doors open at 6 PM, show starts at 7 PM

Bill will be joined by the band Melodeego, and friends from across the climate movement and beyond to explain how together we can confront the fossil fuel industry, using lessons from the most successful movements of the past century and the past year of dramatic new actions against the industry across the country.

Growing Awareness

Unity College documentary film students created this film and debuted it at our recent Student Conference. It follows a crop of pumpkins from a corrections re-entry garden project,  through a global climate action campaign, and to the local food pantry. There’s so much good learning in this project for our students — story telling, technical skill, outreach and professional development, project management, etc., etc..  What really impresses me, though, is the film’s demonstration of local responses to global challenges.

This connection of what we’re learning on our small campus to the broader social picture is exemplary of Unity’s approach to sustainability education.  Unity’s a small school with a special focus in a seemingly out-of-the-way place; yet the real work of sustainability is happening in this community and our students are a part of it.  Kudos to all the documentary film students and professor John Z. for telling the story so well.

This is What Democracy Looks Like

The Unity Community has 18 more reasons to be proud this Monday morning.

In Washington D.C. yesterday 18 Unity students 2 Unity faculty and 1 Unity President joined approximately 12,000 concerned people in a celebration of democracy, advocacy, and science at the 350.org Circle the White House Tar Sands Action. The action goal was to circle the White House in a line of people locking arms in order to ask President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal this fall. 350’s newest employee, Jean Altomare, Unity College ’11, shared the news that the action doubled its expectation in people and actually circled the White House twice.

In a note to participants after the event 350 founder Bill McKibben said this…

There are days along any journey that stick with you, and today was one of them… Under blue Indian Summer skies, more than 12,000 people from every corner of the country descended on Washington DC; then, with great precision, they fanned out to surround the White House and take a stand against the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Rally speakers included James Hansen, Naomi Klein, McKibben, and Actor Mark Ruffalo.

President Barack Obama was said to be playing golf Sunday morning but apparently was in the White House at least part of the day and his motorcade got close enough to hear Unity student David Maar chanting “Yes we can, stop the pipeline.”

In about 36 hours 18 Unity College students rode 1200 miles, sang 14 songs, visited 6 National Memorials, chanted 53 chants, lost 15 voices, saw 17 old friends, took 1034 pictures, smiled innumerable smiles, and slept very very little.

The students dressed and comported themselves professionally, represented the college very well, and thought hard about Tar Sands and climate change science.

The students were joined by their college president, Stephen Mulkey, whose unmistakable baritone added the most compelling “The people united will never be defeated” that I myself have ever heard. Stephen was tireless in answering questions about the college and about climate change science to eager conversationalists from Maine and elsewhere.

Adjunct Faculty Member, Tom Aversa, joined at the last minute to act as the group’s National Mall ornithological consultant.

Unity Students who should be expected to be a little tired and a lot proud this morning are Amy Kennedy, Tess Cleary, Tim Godaire, Summer Nay, Jenny Wiacek, David Maar, Ian Sypek, Olivia Thornton, Julie Wheeler-Luna, Annica McGuirk, Jake McGinley, Amanda Parmagiani, Annie Witzorreck, Teneele Rowe, Tiffany DeMell, Katie Nolan, and J-bro Davidson.

Unity College Sustainability Coordinator Jesse Pyles provided all the pre-trip logistics, home base support, and one-man-welcome-wagon. Thanks to the President’s Office and the Student Government Association for providing the bulk of on campus funding. Thanks to Andy Burt and her Green Sneakers network for arranging buses and additional funding. Thanks to Jim Reed for the send off and much-welcomed travel treats.


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