Oh Oberlin: Henry Gardner, Rhi McKee, Kris Carter, Erik Andrews

In January, I sat down with Erik Andrews and Ray Cunningham to talk about the Appalachia Service Project. We had a great conversation about that project and why young adults from Oberlin should join (and how Erik started the trips from Oberlin). It was also a chance to reminisce with Erik about trips we each took to South Dakota as members of First Church.

Monday, Andrews joined me at First Church with high school students Henry Gardner and Rhi McKee (who have been on the ASP trip for three and two years, respectively) and Kris Carter, who started on these trips as a Fairview High School student and now helps lead them as an Oberlin resident.

Gardner and McKee are engaging young adults and have plenty to say about what they saw and what they learned.

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Oh Oberlin: Doug McMillan

Talking to Doug McMillan at OMLPS, I feel more like I have an understanding about the purpose and capabilities of the power generation plant in Oberlin.

Until around 1970, the engines generated Oberlin’s power. These days it’s a peak plant that in 2003, during the great Northeast blackout, could run most of Oberlin. It’s a procedure, that. Start an engine, connect sections of city. Repeat.

We talked about power generation, energy savings, power outages, his having graduated from seminary, operating budgets and street lights. It would be worth it to go back and listen to my conversations with Sean Hayes, executive director of the Oberlin Project, and Greg Jones, the energy advocate for Providing Oberlin With Efficiency Responsibly (POWER), for context.

It’s a holiday weekend. You need good listening while mowing the lawn or grilling.

The most esoteric bit of knowledge I picked up: New LED street lights don’t buzz the way street lights used to.

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Oh Oberlin: Lester Allen

Rev. Lester Allen knew as a 10 year old living in Cleveland how much he liked Oberlin, what it represented to him as a community in which he could wave hi to people and go fishing with his friends. As a teenager working in fast food, he knew the Bible, reading it on his breaks at times.

It was his plan, then, after leaving the military in the 1980s, to come to Oberlin, taking a job in the post office which gave him the flexibility to coach middle school football, raise his own family. In 2002 he felt called to become a minister.

Whatever the multitude of hats (and only one among others is his participation on the board for the Oberlin Project), the idea he strives to uphold is to return his efforts into the community to create the town he remembers from his youth.

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Oh Oberlin: Kevin Jones

It wasn’t music that brought Kevin Jones to Oberlin, but in a city of music, he has found his place as a performer, instructor and nice guy. I purposefully went early in order to sit outside of his studio over Ben Franklin just to absorb (and record) the ambiance of a lesson in progress.

Thanks to Kevin for supporting the podcast with his music and for more about events at The Woodshed, check the Facebook page.

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Oh Oberlin: Scott Hulver/SEED Ventures

The word “entrepreneur” is a force all its own these days as people decide with an app and angel investors they can become the next tech millionaire.

Oberlin College senior Scott Hulver wants more than that for himself and Oberlin/Lorain County residents, joining with Oberlin Project director of Sustainable Enterprise Cullen Naumoff to run SEED Ventures.

From their site: We at SEED believe that the best way to help the Oberlin and greater Lorain county community is by helping businesses that are committed to the triple bottom line – financial, social, and environmental well-being.  We support 6 start-ups at a time that focus not just on their profit, but on their environmental and social impact as well.  Our 5 month-long incubation program involves individual and group mentorship,  a 3-month selling period, student graphic design and branding support, technology consulting, and practical, hands-on, business workshops.

Hulver grew up in Westlake, but his parents met in Oberlin in the mid-1980s, “on the street behind Mudd Library.” That would be Cedar Street, where I arguably spent 50 percent of my time as a teenager. #smallworldmoment

This is a faster-paced interview … 35 minutes. For more on SEED Ventures, visit their website, or find them on Facebook or Twitter. The funny-to-me-bit: Hulver, at age 20, is just learning Twitter.

The deadline to apply to be one of the six entrepreneurs is July 15. Participation guidelines are here.

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Oh Oberlin: John Seyfried

I joked with photographer John Seyfried that the only way I would be able to pick him out of a lineup would be to have him hold his camera up to his face.

John goes everywhere with his camera, saying he’s afraid he might miss something. Before the days of ubiquitous camera phones, someone had to do it.

Cameras, cars, technology and Oberlin in today’s episode.

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Oh Oberlin: Leo Braido

Leo Braido grew up in southeastern Ohio, but in moving to Oberlin and buying the IGA last fall, he went so far as to sell his condo in Hilton Head. He’s doomed set to live northern Ohio winters for the foreseeable future.

Braido participates in the Oberlin Project’s Hatch entrepreneurial group and has many positive things to say about Oberlin’s business community, notably remarking about how residents and businesses look to support locals first.

For the record, Braido works 80 hour weeks. In his “off time” he might like to ride his bike.

It’s tough, going through a busy May not interviewing anyone. Talking to Leo offered a nice chance to dust off. I’m looking forward to June and several good conversations to come.

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Oh Oberlin: Memorial Day 2015

I rode my bike downtown this morning with the intent of attending both Oberlin’s Memorial Day celebration and Oberlin College’s graduation event at which the First Lady would speak.

Rather than conduct an interview, I wanted to record the sounds of the morning and share them. I present here the Memorial Day Ceremony. I defer to the college’s masterful live streaming of the graduation ceremony. I would speculate they will have a copy to post at some point.

Notes: 1) Next year I will put my phone by the speaker. You get lots of ambiance today (though not to the exclusion of understanding the speakers). 2) I tried several ways to adjust sound levels. Thank you for bearing with me. It will be better fixed next year by following through on item 1. 3) I want to interview Lester Allen, the keynote speaker, pastor of Oberlin’s Christian Missionary Alliance Church.

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Oh Oberlin: Adenike Sharpley

Juneteenth will be celebrated in Oberlin this year on June 13. The event website relates:

Juneteenth or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last enslaved persons in Texas were freed.  Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation did not come in Texas until June 19, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863.  And slavery in Delaware was not officially abolished until December, 1865.

Adenike Sharpley is the woman in charge of organizing this year’s event. All of the background material I could find on Sharpley portrayed a woman who lives life with intent and purpose. An hour’s conversation did nothing to diminish that image.

Music for this episode is taken from my recent interview with Hassan Allen who graciously gave permission for its use.

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Oh Oberlin: Marty Verda

In the course of fundraising this winter, it was suggested that people from New Russia Township be included among those interviewed. The show is “Oh Oberlin,” but that was never meant to imply a strict geographic boundary.

In that spirit – and wow, what spirit – Marty Verda agreed to be interviewed. She grew up in Oberlin. So there is that. She graduated from Oberlin College. So there is that also. And then she returned to Oberlin to work. AND THEN (#rareallcapmoment) after moving away again, she moved back again.

In the course of it all, she ended up choosing to live north of town and to run for township office. We don’t get to township matters until further into the interview. And she has her say about a couple of things related to politics between the city and the township (and even within the township as to what its identity should be.)

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