Campus Currents

Seed Money
A Peace Corps project inspires a new song
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When Danielle Costanza '08 started at UNH she had a plan: a major in science. And a passion: music. Stage fright initially kept the two from converging. Then she met music professor David Ripley.

"I sang for David, not even sure if I would qualify, but from that moment forward he has always been my number one fan," says Costanza, who went on to graduate from UNH with a bachelor's degree in music education. "Through him I gained confidence to develop my voice, and then in a deeper, intangible way as well. I am still developing as a person here in the Peace Corps."

Courtesy Photo
GRAVITY FEED: Danielle Costanza '08, standing at left, and residents of El Hatillo, Nicaragua, build an irrigation system.

Costanza is working in the village of El Hatillo, Nicaragua. Most of the people in the village live on or below the poverty line in dirt shacks and have at one time or another lived off tortillas alone. For nearly two years, Costanza has been working to start a community bank that would lend 12 local residents the funds they need to buy seeds and fertilizer and begin to grow their own food, eventually leading to a sustainable source for the entire community. A simple concept, but as with most good ideas, there are obstacles, especially funding.

That's when Ripley stepped in. On May 3, Ripley, pianist-composer Michael Annicchiarico '76, an associate professor of music, and jazz bassist Nate Therrien '06 held a benefit concert that included a performance of Ripley's "Seeds for El Hatillo," a song he wrote in support of Costanza's project.

Ripley also produced a video that includes a performance of the song, and plans to post it on YouTube once all the permissions are secured. The goal is to inspire people to donate so the project can begin with this August's planting season.

"Her ability to make a human gesture that mature was very inspiring," says Ripley. "The world needs more of that." ~

See a blog about the project, Seeds for El Hatillo and watch a YouTube video about the project

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