UNITY Project at Cobourg’s Farmers’ Market

In June of 2016, Nancy Belmont created UNITY, an interactive public art project, as a response to the divisiveness and negative rhetoric in American politics.  In August 2016, it came to Port Hope (see link below) and on Saturday September 14, 2019 it came to Cobourg. Tricky to explain, it ends up with a structure of 32 poles around a centre pole all connected by yarn.  The idea is to see that we are all connected by something – and hopefully promote the idea that diversity builds a strong and vibrant community.  Nancy lives in Virginia but the Northumberland champion is Megan Deyman, the co-ordinator of the Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland Drug Strategy.  Other groups involved are Green Wood Coalition, Transition House, Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre, PARN, and the HKPR District Health Unit.

UNITY Project
UNITY Project

The Northumberland 2019 UNITY event was held just behind the Farmers Market in Rotary Park.

What is UNITY?

The project organizers say that “the project consists of 32 posts, each with identifiers such as, ‘I’m a parent; I speak English as a second language; I identify as LGBTQ,’ etc.  Participants tie colorful yarn to posts that reflect their identities. Their yarn intertwines with others’ to create a web of interconnectedness. In the end, we see that we are all connected by something, and it’s our diversity that builds a strong and vibrant community.”

At the bottom of this post is a list of the “identifiers”.

But the best way to understand what’s being done is to watch this short video:

If you haven’t been to the Farmers’ market this summer you are missing out on a great experience.  Not only is it an opportunity to buy fresh local produce, but there are other booths with neat stuff and it’s a chance to meet and chat with people you might know from around Cobourg – kind of like a European Town square.

Here is a video of the Cobourg UNITY event plus a walk around the Farmers’ Market.



Identifier Identifier
1 I have used the food bank 17 I’ve been homeless
2 I donate to local organizations 18 I sometimes feel lonely
3 I’m a survivor 19 I feel like I belong
4 I am First Nations, Metis and/or Inuit 20 I am a newcomer to Canada
5 I identify as LGBTQ+ 21 I feel too busy
6 I am a student 22 I worry about money
7 I speak more than one language 23 I feel like I have a lot of supports
8 I care about someone struggling with substance use 24 I’m a single parent
9 I enjoy a glass of wine to relax 25 I have a spouse or life partner
10 I’m in recovery 26 Summer is my favourite season
11 Mental illness has touched my family 27 I have a pet
12 I try to practice self-care 28 I enjoy playing sports
13 I work 29 I love the arts
14 I volunteer 30 I watch Netflix
15 I rent a home 31 I play video games
16 I own a home 32 I am …

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Leona Woods
4 years ago

We used this strategy about 25 years ago in our classrooms to build a team of learners who better understood each other’s unique characteristics, but also could see, by the criss-crossed strings of yarn, that they were joined by many similarities. It was a good learning experience, a great visual, and fun.