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UMPI presents UNITY Project art installation

An interactive art installation that celebrates the differences that tie people together returns to the University of Maine at Presque Isle this September and all are invited to help “build” the structure. This will be the third year that UMPI presents the UNITY Project on campus. The display will be up through UMPI’s Homecoming Weekend, which takes place Sept. 26-29.

This year’s UNITY Project has been relocated to the center of campus, on the lawn adjacent to the Emerson Annex. The installation features a center pole and 32 posts set in a circular array around it, all of which are wound with colorful yarn. The UNITY Project is a concept created by Nancy Belmont that debuted in Alexandria, Virginia, and has become a global movement. According to the UNITY Project’s website, www.unityproject.net, the project raises “consciousness about the labels we give ourselves and others and explores how those labels both support and limit building interconnected, interesting communities.”

On each of the posts is an identifier—such as “I’m a parent,” “I live with a disability or chronic illness,” or “I speak English as a second language”—and participants are encouraged to start at the center pole and tie colorful yarn around all the posts that reflect their identities. The result of the intertwined yarn is a “web of interconnectedness;” ultimately, the website states, “we see that we are all connected by something, and it’s our diversity that builds a strong and vibrant community.”

UMPI’s Inclusion and Civility Task Force brought the UNITY Project to campus two years ago as part of its Kindness Week activities in November 2017. The task force was established at UMPI in Fall 2016 and works to foster inclusion and civility at UMPI in ways that embrace diversity, create solidarity, encourage civil discourse and respect for others, and increase a general feeling of safety on campus. The group opted to host the UNITY Project at the beginning of the school year again this year and is encouraging the entire community to participate.

“The UNITY Project is a powerful statement about community and how each individual contributes to its vibrancy,” Violet Washburn, UMPI Coordinator of Campus Engagement, said. “Our UNITY Project is a self-service installation, complete with directions and materials on site, so people can stop by whenever it’s convenient for them, and add their length of yarn to the project. We encourage everyone to take part and help to tie the community together with the UNITY Project.”

For more information about the UNITY Project at UMPI, contact Violet Washburn at violet.washburn@maine.edu or 207-768-9452. To view an Upworthy video of the UNITY Project and its creator, visit https://www.facebook.com/Upworthy/videos/1316825255024996/.