A group of Unity College students led by critically acclaimed author and Professor Kathryn Miles is writing an anthology of essays about residents at Tall Pines, an assisted living and retirement community in Belfast. The online and print anthology of essays will be celebrated at a launch party on Thursday, May 9 at 4:00 pm at Tall Pines, located at 24 Martin Lane in Belfast.

Seventeen Unity College students are participating in the project, each partnered with a Tall Pines resident who is sharing compelling life experiences, challenges, and triumphs. The project is part of a class taught by Miles entitled “Creative Writing: The Lyric Essay.”  Residents are referred to as “partners” by the Unity students because of the collaborative, give-and-take nature of the association and trust developed between the residents and students.

“Unity students are interviewing residents about their life experiences, which range from flying Air Force missions to Antarctica during World War II to confronting a life with cerebral palsy,” Miles said.

The anthology written by the Unity students not only calls attention to the great diversity of accomplishments seen in Tall Pines residents, but ultimately highlights the meaningful connections that have been developed between this group of 17 college students, elderly retirees (one who is 103 years old), and individuals with special needs, says Miles.

This is the third year that Miles has led a group of students to pursue an anthology about Tall Pines residents.  Judging from the popularity of the project among Unity students, Miles feels it will remain a valued hands-on project within the writing curriculum.

“Some students from past years are still in touch with their partners at Tall Pines,” Miles said.

Students have been preparing for the project during the entire spring 2013 semester, learning narrative style, interviewing techniques, and the elements of good storytelling.  They met with their Tall Pines partners for the first time in April, and are continuing writing and revision on the anthology until the release party on May 9.

“There are so many wonderful outcomes for the students involved,” Miles stated.  “First, of course, is the opportunity to apply their writing skills in a real world environment.  Not only are Unity students writing stories about real people, but they are engaging in every aspect of the publication process, from copy editing to print production to web design and marketing.”

Miles also points out that students are learning the importance of history, which plays an important role in any conversation about sustainability – a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.

“The residents at Tall Pines have so many valuable stories that deserve to be told, from working in the historic chicken farms of Waldo County to assisting refugee children during the Spanish Civil War, to serving as a boat pilot on the Penobscot River, these partners have wisdom and perspective in spaces,” Miles said.  “It is a great honor for us not only to receive the narratives, but also to provide the vehicle needed to share those stories with the larger world.  We’re just delighted to have this opportunity.”

For 25 years Tall Pines has been serving Mid-Coast Maine with excellent specialized care. Located just steps from downtown Belfast, and convenient to the Waldo County General Hospital, the Tall Pines Campus is the only facility in Belfast offering a full continuum of care including independent living, assisted living, respite care, skilled rehabilitation, long term care, residential care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and an adult day program.

In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including its focus on sustainability science, the leading-edge of 21st century ecological problem solving and the vanguard in the fight for the mitigation of global climate change; its ground-breaking “green” innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard, the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and for being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education.

Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that 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.

Monday, May 06, 2013