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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton and Northfield community rally “pou Ayiti”

<iday, Feb. 27, the Carleton, St. Olaf and Northfield communities united to support Haiti at the Singing for Haiti, or Chanté pou Ayiti, concert. The event, organized by the Haiti Justice Alliance of Northfield, St. Olaf students and Haiti Relief-Carleton, raised $3,500 for victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12.

All of the proceeds from ticket sales went to charity. The Grand in downtown Northfield provided the venue gratis, and a donation from President Oden covered both the fee for the bar service and the event’s publicity costs.

As for the music, the sound technician and students bands worked for free, and even the professional group, the Brothers Frantzich, performed at a reduced price.

The three communities mingled in the Grand’s casual ambience. The concert kicked off with the Northfield High School Madrigals presenting a capella selections, followed by a set from The Makeshift Four, a student band from St. Olaf.

Carleton’s own Porch Collective took to the stage next, and the dance floor quickly filled with Carls. Porch Collective featured catchy bluegrass songs, including “Fly Away” and a bluegrass-infused rendition of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” The audience, reflecting a strong presence of Porch Collective devotees, danced and sang along in approval, and even briefly formed a conga line.

Bringing Porch Collective to The Grand for this event allowed the concert to “tap into their own very enthusiastic following,” event co-organizer Rebecca Palmer ’10 said.

At this particular performance, the band included: Blake Hansen ’10 on banjo, Ben Haynor ’10 and Jane Stitt ’11 on guitar, Sam Ritter ’10 on violin, Mark Hagermann ’10 on mandolin, Drew Chambers ’10 on drums and a guest performance by Mary Ellen Stitt ’08 on the washboard.

“Porch Collective was happy to be here in support of a really cool cause,” Hansen said.

The final performance of the evening came from the Brothers Frantzich, a Minneapolis based “sacred folk” duo. They featured two-part vocal harmonies over acoustic guitars with backup from the Northfield High School Madrigals on certain songs. Their set ranged from melancholy songs to more brisk selections, such as the call-and-response “Golden City,” and also included many love songs.

 In addition to performing at a reduced fee on Friday, the Brothers Frantzich is a member of Feed Them With Music, a coalition of musicians who give a portion of their profits to feed the needy. Currently, their donations are supporting Haitian earthquake victims.

Although the Singing for Haiti concert featured music, the purpose of the event was never far from anyone’s mind. Between sets, students and adults alike discussed the three Haiti initiatives these ticket profits will go to support.

For instance, the What If Foundation gives food and education to Haitian children, and has been the focus of previous Carleton fund-raisers such as Dye for Haiti. Another organization, Partners in Health, provides medical care to the impoverished and is currently one of the only functioning health care providers in the country. Finally, Feed My Starving Children, an organization from the Midwest that ships meals around the world, is now also focusing their efforts on earthquake relief.

Haiti Relief-Carleton’s efforts also go beyond the recent concert. “Things that make this tragic event unique is that it exposed some underlying issues…in the way Haiti functions as a nation,” said Palmer. To help relieve some of these issues, the group has thus far raised $5,400 through tabling in Sayles, coat check at Midwinter Ball, and selling crepes.

The immediate aftermath of the earthquake has inspired lots of support for Haiti. However, the nation’s problems, exposed by the recent tragedy, cannot be resolved in a few months, so other fundraising efforts will continue. In April, the medical director of Partners In Health, Dr. Joia Mukherjee, will visit campus. Also, Natalee Johnson, an employee of Carleton’s Wellness Center, will soon travel to a town near Port-au-Prince to work as a midwife. Haiti Relief -Carleton will be gathering supplies for her trip.

Though there is still much to be done, Palmer said Haiti Relief-Carleton hopes to “draw upon interest now to continue and sustain the efforts and awareness.”

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