White House Prepares to Install Solar Panels, Unity College Ponders Its Role in History

Aug 15, 2013, 14:37 ET from Unity College

UNITY, Maine, Aug. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --  As the White House press corps chatters about the possible installation of solar panels on one of the most storied homes in the world, Unity College ponders its role in rescuing the original solar panels installed by President Jimmy Carter from obscurity.

The full story of Carter's solar panels and saga of Unity College, an environmental college in Maine, rescuing these important pieces of history from obscurity was told in a 2010 documentary film by Swiss filmmakers Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller.  The documentary has been screened at the Maine International Film Festival, among other film festivals both in the United States and Europe.

Entitled A Road Not Taken, the  Hemauer and Keller documentary explores the abrupt turn from the development of renewable energy like solar. When President Carter installed the panels atop the White House, he characterized the action as either a bold step in the development of cheap, renewable energy, or an example of a road not taken. The latter was the course of history and artistic focus of the documentary, details of which are available online at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1365056/ and http://www.roadnottaken.info/.

A YouTube clip featuring President Carter from the documentary is online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9VD6MdEt0U.

Sara Trunzo '08, Food and Farms Project Coordinator at Unity College, was featured in the documentary.  She and another Unity College alum, Jason Reynolds '05, went on a road trip from Unity, Maine, to the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, searching for the meaning of America's turn from the opportunity to pursue renewable energy that President Carter had championed.  A clip featuring Reynolds is available on the Unity College sustainability website at http://sustainabilitymonitor.wordpress.com/tag/a-road-not-taken/.

"My participation in 'A Road Not Taken' was a transformative moment in my education because it helped me understand the power of integrating sustainability, communication, policy, art, and activism to send a message," said Trunzo.  "The film is a beautiful piece of modern storytelling that captures an important moment in US energy history and Unity College history, too."

In 2012, Unity College became the first college in the nation to divest from investments in fossil fuels, leading a growing national movement that is being championed by 350.org.

Video with caption: '"A Road not Taken" tells the story about the solar panels Jimmy Carter put on the White House 1979.' Video available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9VD6MdEt0U

SOURCE Unity College