The Unicopia Center, recognized internationally and nationally as a leading edge green building model and educational center for sustainability, hosted 45 students participating in the ESL Summer Vacation Immersion Program at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design July 2012. September 12, 2012
English as a Second Language (ESL) provided the synergistic backdrop for the very global topic of green building, energy efficiency and sustainability. The various students, from Italy, Switzerland, Mexico, Honduras, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Chile, appeared especially engaged when Unicopia Executive Director, Faren Dancer, mentioned “sustainable thought”. His premise for how, in unity, world citizens might bring forth a future that is enduring and prosperous, appeared to kindle an awareness that transcended the cultural divergence. With a focus on solutions, and an attitude of appreciation, the grassroots movement toward sustainability is taking hold in many countries around the world, and these students appeared eager to bridge the cultural gap with an expressed desire to share their experience upon returning home. Unicopia, a Santa Fe, New Mexico, based non-profit organization, is featured on SantaFe.com in the website business section.
Unicopia Associate Executive Director, Maxine Swisa, the current ESL instructor for the Laureate Education program, conceived this opportunity for the students to embrace English through the context of green building, energy efficiency and Earth stewardship as a universal concept that transcends all cultural barriers. Throughout the tour of the center, also known as the “Emerald Home”, the students learned the tangibles of energy efficiency, water efficiency, resource efficiency, indoor air quality and site impact, while actively engaging in the educational outreach that helps quantify green building. The students were also enamored by the universally embraced concept of receiving a monthly check “from” the utility company, one of the rewards granted a home that produces more energy than it uses.
The sense of camaraderie shared by this diverse group of young enthusiasts helped set the tone for a day of sharing, laughter and connection that symbolizes the mission of Unicopia. As an international agent of knowledge, expanded awareness and the synergy required for bringing together a world population, this particular day revealed a promising future, indeed.
About Unicopia Inc.:
Mr. Faren Dancer is the Executive Director and Founder of Unicopia, Inc. Mr. Dancer began his work in the sustainability movement in the early 1970's working on local recycling programs, installing solar hot water systems and promoting organic community gardens. His sustainable building approaches, including water conservation, solar technology and the use of reclaimed materials highlighted his building projects in the late 1970s. In 1980, prompted by his goal to create multi-media theatrical presentations that expanded awareness of the environment and to promote a conscious approach to planetary solutions, he moved to Los Angeles. Unicopia was incorporated in 1987 and produced transformational stage presentations that entertained, while expanding audience perspective on nature and spirit. Commencing in 1989, Unicopia produced a television series entitled "Interfusion...where spirit, technology and art meld to create a new view of the future."
From the early 1990s to the present, Faren Dancer has continued to evolve his sustainable building practices and outreach through his building models, articles, radio shows, public appearances, classes and seminars. Homes New Mexico and Immediate Past President of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, where he spearheaded the association's endorsement of the 2030 Challenge in 2006, the first home builders association in the country to do so.
Mr. Dancer co-authored the Santa Fe Building Codes and has spearheaded New Mexico State legislation for Home Owner Association regulation in regards to solar and water rights. He has also emerged as a national force for energy efficiency and sustainable building practices, speaking on Capitol Hill and the National Press Club representing the grassroots of the sustainability movement. His testimony at National Code hearings, along with his net-zero building models, brought a 2009 nomination for the U.S...Johnson Award for Excellence in Building Energy Codes and Performance.
Ms. Maxine Swisa is the Director of Operations & Finance of Unicopia, Inc...Swisa is an experienced entrepreneur with a Fortune 1000 company background. She has a proven track record in executive leadership, financial management, strategic planning, information technology and organizational development. She has managed budgets ranging from $50K to $10M, as well as directly and indirectly managed staff of 200+ people and associated expenses. As Director of Operations & Finance of Unicopia, Inc., Ms. Swisa has served as the financial and operations manager including project management, contract negotiation, budgeting, forecasting, marketing, educational tours, and public speaking engagements for the Emerald Home, the award-winning zero energy home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Prior to her association with Unicopia, Inc., Ms. Swisa was Chief Information Officer for a publicly-traded financial services company. As the CIO, she oversaw all strategic planning for the Information Technology department, as well as day to day operations for the company including office administration, plant management and employee professional development. She supervised and structured an IT organization that supported a company with $60 billion in assets.
After retiring from a 25 year career in the financial services industry, Ms. Swisa began discovering a network of builders, business and real estate professionals in Santa Fe who were involved in building and supporting energy efficient, green homes. Learning about sustainable building practices and its implications for the future of our lives was the next logical step for her.
Ms. Swisa has been involved in educational outreach for over 30 years. She has taught classes, led tours, facilitated seminars, participated in public speaking engagements, radio shows, panel discussions and co-authored chapter in a book about leadership. She has served on the board of directors for various non-profit organizations.
Lainey Dancer brings to Unicopia fifteen years of experience in the broadcast industry with emphasis on personnel management, revenue tracking and commercial scheduling...SantaFe.com is a division of Hutton Broadcasting, located at 2502 C. Camino Entrada, Santa Fe, NM 87507
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