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Festival kicks off house project

Published May 3, 2004; Category: EVENTS

Students celebrate service with performances

On Saturday, May 15, Dartmouth students will host the first ever Festival of Humanity on the Dartmouth Green featuring performances, food, activities for children and adults, and a silent auction. The event kicks off efforts to construct a student-funded and student-built Habitat for Humanity house, set to break ground this summer. All activities are free and open to the public.

"Our purpose is to try to bring together the community through its performers, artists and cultural groups in one event celebrating a collective concern for service."

- Mats Lemberger '06

According to organizers, the Festival of Humanity, which runs between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m., will bring together groups from across campus, including choirs, bands, dance troupes, and social and cultural affinity organizations.

"One of my friends challenged me to come up with a way to bring together service and performance in a meaningful way," said Mats Lemberger '06, who is heading up the Festival. "We wanted to share some of the many talents of Dartmouth students with the Upper Valley community in a way that was both positive and fun."

Additional activities will include a barbecue sponsored by the Dartmouth Green Key Society; an inflatable obstacle course and bungee-jump; a sushi-making workshop; face painting and henna tattoo booths; speakers, including Don Derrick, Executive Director of Upper Valley Habitat for Humanity; and food tables provided by Dartmouth cultural organizations.

Coinciding with the performances will be a silent auction that will take place throughout the afternoon under a tent near Robinson Hall and the Collis Center. Items up for auction will include student crafts and artwork and contributions from community members, alumni and local businesses.

 "Students, friends and members of the community have been incredibly supportive and have donated numerous items for bidding," said Li Jun Xian '04 who has been involved in planning the auction. "We've also received some one-of-a-kind items, including two autographed copies of former President Jimmy Carter's new book, The Hornet's Nest, as well as autographed sports memorabilia from many of Dartmouth's wonderful athletes."

Lemberger said, "Our purpose is to try to bring together the community through its performers, artists and cultural groups in one event celebrating a collective concern for service.  This year, we want to develop awareness about the issue of affordable housing in the Upper Valley and to help raise funds for Dartmouth's upcoming Habitat for Humanity House."

The house, one of two to be built by Upper Valley Habitat for Humanity this year, will be the second house funded and constructed solely by Dartmouth students. It will be in Wilder, Vt., in a planned, mixed-use neighborhood developed by the Vermont State Housing Authority, Twin Pines Housing Trust and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. The family who will live in the house will be chosen from an initial pool of more than 60 applicants, and is expected to provide 500 hours of "sweat equity" in building the home.

The project builds on the success of previous efforts by Dartmouth students.

"With each house we learn a little more," Lemberger said. "One of the key challenges for any service organization is always fundraising.  It costs between $60,000 and $100,000 for Habitat to build an affordable house in the Upper Valley.  We hope the Festival for Humanity will become an annual event at Dartmouth that helps out service organizations like Habitat on their way to achieving their goals."

Fundraisers throughout the year, including the Bike-and-Build program in which students raise money by biking across the country, will continue the drive to gather funds to complete the house.

In case of rain, The Festival of Humanity will be held at the Collis Center. Questions about the festival or about Habitat can be directed to Li Jun Xian at 646-5369.

By JAMES DONNELLY

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Last Updated: 12/17/08