Unity Barn Raisers was formed in 1996 as a community and economic development organization whose purpose was to revitalize Unity's downtown, re-energize its farm culture, and involve volunteers in the active work of building a vibrant community. At the time, western Waldo County--where Unity is located--was the poorest region of Maine (with a lower per-capita income than even Washington County). Unity's small downtown which is the region's traditional market center was clearly dying.
From the beginning, UBR took an innovative approach to community development. The major initial focus was to help revitalize Unity's small downtown. UBR tackled this challenge with several creative projects. These included: transforming a vacant downtown building into a vibrant new community center; renovating several other downtown properties for new commercial and residential purposes; recruiting appropriate new businesses to downtown Unity (including a new insurance agency, credit union, health center, veterinarian office, and an expanded grocery store); planting trees, adding benches, and building sidewalks and walkways to enhance downtown livability; and creating an active farmers market in a downtown setting.
Since that time, UBR has pursued a broad array of other projects, including far-reaching efforts aimed at increasing farm vitality, preserving the precious and significant wetland habitat that exists in our region, and organizing volunteers for projects like weatherization and Day of Service.
Unity Barn Raisers was founded to do for the town of Unity and surrounding towns what they had neither staff, expertise or volunteer base to do for themselves. As the towns have changed, UBR's role has changed.
In the early days, UBR worked mainly on economic development and physical improvements to downtown Unity: buying, renovating, repurposing properties; trees and trails. Later, fiscal agency for start-ups, weatherization, and community programming was the focus.
Looking at our history you can see the wide variety of things we have taken on over time. In all phases, UBR has been the go-to organization for bringing grant funding to our community and putting it together with a volunteer base to get the job done.
UBR continues to create and organize great programs like Day of Service, Community Meals, Community Trails, and Triplet Park. We are putting energy into pulling the community together with information services like UnityMaine.org and a print newsletter, soon to become a monthly newsletter for the town of Unity. The Unity Community Center is owned, managed and maintained by UBR. It is truly the center of the community; used by everyone, from quilters, to bridge players, young mothers and children, organizations, social events, workshops and more.
Today, we are still looking around for what needs to be done for and by our community. The UBR Board and staff are currently reviewing projects for 2015. We invite members of our community to get in touch with staff ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or the board ( email@example.com ) to discuss future efforts of the organization, efforts that further our shared mission of volunteerism and community.