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Tie-Dye Festival Ties Community Together One T-shirt a Time

By Carrie Sherman, Editorial and Creative Services
December 19, 2007

Clockwise from upper left: Adam Grindler 09, Rachel Patterson 09, Sara Townsend 09, Kristina Marttinen 09, Kate McCloy 09. Lisa Nugent photo

What’s more cheery than a tie-dye T-shirt? What better way to unwind at the end of the semester and the beginning of the holiday season than to make a tie-dye gift or enhance your wardrobe? Certainly, just as its project organizers envisioned, the First Annual Durham Tie-Dye Festival was a great way to bring together the community and the university.

This December recreation management and policy (RMP) students in associate professor Ann Morgan’s course, Recreation Program Design, created the first annual Durham Tie-Dye Festival. They got organizations to set up information tables. They lined up local groups that included Good Morning Chester, Alabaster Blue, and Fat Bunny (just family-friendly music, the musicians all agreed).

To publicize the event, RMP project organizers sent e-mails, posted fliers, and made personal pleas. “Look,” they said, “this event is free and open to all families, students, and members of the Durham community.”

In a press release published in the student newspaper, The New Hampshire, one of the RMP project organizers, Kate McCloy, said, “We feel that UNH students still have a lot to learn about the town they live in. We hope that this event will open up the history and events that the town has to offer. Likewise, the community can come and learn about students and their activities.”

On a Friday afternoon, project organizers set up tables in the Granite State Room for both student and community organizations, arranged the tie-dye equipment, warmed up the cocoa, and got out some tickets. They opened the doors at 4 p.m. Gnarlemagne, a local band with a great horn section, belted out renditions of Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix songs. They waited a bit more. Then, one by one, two by two, students and local families began to saunter into the Granite State Room. Even with ridiculously busy holiday schedules, they came, each carrying a telltale white T-shirt—or rather in this day and age: a v-neck, Fruit of the Loom camisole, Tommy Hilfiger, or faded B’Sox tank.

Surrounding the central tie-dye station, people visited the tables and chatted with members of Alpha Chi Omega, Ecological Advocates, and Durham: It’s Where U Live. In the foyer, Ann Shump, supervisor of the voter checklist for Durham, ran a voter information and registration table.

Adam Grindler, another RMP project organizer, had simply called the Town Office and asked for help.

“With the primary election so close, we knew that students would have lots of questions about the process,” said Grindler, who is from Virginia and plans to obtain an absentee ballot to vote in his home state’s primary.

All told, according to the clickers used as people came in the door, 417 people came.

“Events like these can become great fun traditions,” says Morgan. In the past semester, students in her course have conducted 15 community events both on campus and in other Seacoast communities. “It’s all about community and people getting to know and support each other.”

DBA president Johanna Knight was there with her 13-year-old son.

“An event like this helps local kids to feel more at home in their own town. And, it gives them a taste of college life,” said Knight. “As soon as he’s done, we’re off to a middle school dance. He’s already done a T-shirt, now he’s doing his socks.”

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