Oh Oberlin: Oberlin City Schools Supt. David Hall

Last summer I met Oberlin City Schools Superintendent David Hall as I had just decided to run for city council and he had just been hired into his job. That equals meet and greet time for everyone. I meant to talk with him sooner for the podcast. The occasion of having two levy renewal issues on the March 15 ballot made sense as a point in time to make that happen.

We talked about:

Issue 25
is a 5.05 mill renewal of the property tax levy you passed in 2012. This renewal will provide the District $940,000 per year for the next five years. The returns from this levy will be used for the operating expenses of the District, namely staff, academic programs, athletics, teacher and student supplies, transportation, and the like.

Issue 26
is the renewal of a 2.0 mill permanent improvement levy that you first passed in 1976.  This tax issue would raise $371,064 a year, money that can only be used to pay for building repair and maintenance, equipment replacement and repair, and other non-consumable purchases. Items purchased with this money have a lifetime of five years or more. Some examples we may be expecting in the near future include a roof, boiler, electrical systems, doors, windows, textbooks, sidewalks, parking lots, athletic equipment furniture, buses, band and orchestra equipment, etc.

For more information from the district concerning Issues 25 and 26 on the March ballot, visit Facebook, or oberlinyesyes.com.

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Oh Oberlin: Kelley Singleton

Hi Oberlin-interested people! The first show this year is with OHS Class of ’91 graduate and newly elected City Council member Kelley Singleton. We cover growing up in Oberlin, Kelley’s family immersion in political awareness and the “Oberlin bubble” which, to paraphrase the discussion, maybe means the idea of the community to which people want to return.

We also touch on ’80s pop culture and the way a group of young adults from Oberlin followed each other out to Providence, R.I.

The interview wraps up with a look at Kelley’s take on the coming year in council, including discussion he and other council members would like to have with Oberlin College representatives concerning a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program. Kelley references this December article from the Oberlin Review.

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Oh Oberlin: 2015 Year in Review

Thanks for coming back to check the 2015 year in review. My interview with Meeko Israel provided a great backdrop to piece together the conversations from last year. The fact that it didn’t take much trying to stitch these stories together speaks to Oberlin’s nature I think. If you’d like to listen to any of the particular interviews, you should be able to find the tag on the blog page for this post and trace it back to the original full interview.

No favorites here. I learned a great deal and enjoyed the conversations in the process.

Here’s to 2016.

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Oh Oberlin: Incubating businesses

In September, I attended a business incubator session by Lisa Hutson, director at the Small Business Development Center at Lorain County Community College. When Corey Butler and Ms. Ann mentioned their business plans in the last episode, it was this woman who had handed them out. I may or may not have a blank copy still somewhere. This meeting was the one in which she described the different efforts at business planning to a group that met her advice at points all along the spectrum.

This episode jumps back and forth by about a month Hutson’s presentation at the September to an October day I walked by and chatted with Susan Wilgor about her soap business. Hutson offered a lot of information about starting a business. Wilgor and the other SEEDVenture entrepreneurs desired it. Said Wilgor:

Remember to stop by the SEEDVentures store front at 29 S. Main Street, seven days a week, between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., 8 p.m. on Thursdays. And if you’re in town on Sunday, Dec. 6, stop by the craft room at the Oberlin Public Library at 2 p.m. I’m hosting an informal meeting among podcast followers to say hi. I’d like to hear your opinions and ideas for the show.

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Oh Oberlin: entrepreneurial grind

In this episode, the entrepreneurs at SEEDVentures are 10 days into business at 29 S. Main Street. I spoke with Ann Mickel (a.k.a. Ms. Ann), about her business, Love Delivered and went back for a second helping of pretzels with Corey Butler and Doki Doki Chocolates.

Talking about the passions that got them where they are, they also each mention the benefits of working with SEEDVentures from the emotional support of having business people believe in their idea to the presence of a task master minding whether they have finished their business plan.

The main body runs about 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes clipped from a city council meeting this fall. I had previously talked with Krista Long about the parking situation downtown and during my run for city council had recorded a council meeting at which it seemed dozens of business owners showed up to express concern over the lack of parking on College Street connected to the Gateway Project. From business owners still launching their businesses to veteran business operators, I thought the context of hearing some of their concerns against the others would be interesting.

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Oh Oberlin: An entrepreneurial gala … or, five new businesses walk into an Oberlin store front

This is the first actual episode with new interviews in a couple months. I ran for Oberlin City Council in the meantime and had a wicked chest cold during which I recorded a couple of what kids these days would call “sick” intros. Meaning good ones, done with an unnaturally deep voice. I’ll probably turn the council run into part of an episode down the road.

Today, though, belongs to the SEEDVentures crew of five entrepreneurs who are getting business help in creating and following through on business plans, borrowing the store front at 29 S. Main St. in Oberlin to show off their products. The grand opening was Oct. 1.

As I mentioned here a few weeks ago, this is also a test of my audio editing abilities, changing from my usual long form conversation to culling a storyline that will follow through a number of episodes. Launching businesses lends itself to that I think.

I’m always open to your feedback.

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Oh Oberlin political extra: Comings on the environment

So, it has been a while since I posted a podcast. They are around … but the post today represents what has been going on simultaneously for the last few months: my run for Oberlin City Council. This recording was provided to me by the Oberlin College students who produced it. I have done no further editing or adding of material. This is political in nature, but only runs to a little more than 8 minutes.

I believe all 14 candidates were invited. We got to choose three questions to answer with a maximum time of 10 minutes.

I am including it here as part of my audio record for the year and am posting it an hour after finishing the second and final community candidates event prior to Tuesday’s election.

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Oh Oberlin: Down to business

What is the story of business in Oberlin? That can sound really complicated when you listen to the owners who put everything they have into starting a new venture. Buying a bookstore a few years before online reading strikes your business model. Long days turn into frigid winter nights installing greenhouse equipment during the winter. Having a business plan isn’t enough to forestall the effects of the Great Recession. And, in the end? Entrepreneurs will start from scratch and try it all over again.

Add into that trying to run a business in the digital age when it can seem just as easy to buy a product online as to drive downtown … Well why would you start a business? Oh Oberlin will start to break that down as I change my own format from the unscripted hourlong conversations I’ve done nearly each week for more than a year to finding and tracing this story in particular. Beginning in November, Oh Oberlin will post shorter episodes twice each week.

I’m working with SEEDVentures to broaden the scope of this podcast. SEEDVentures has picked five entrepreneurs to set up in a storefront in downtown Oberlin – I am not one of them – and is providing business incubator support to a dozen or so altogether.

So as I am breaking format, maybe I better say trying a new format, these are the areas I will focus on. November will begin with:

Oberlin: a business island unto itself

This will be a month spent looking at historical, game-changing famous Oberlin-birthed/based entrepreneurs.

Following that, I plan to get into examples of growing a business from the ground up; those who have done it in Oberlin and those who are doing it now. I call December,

Growing a business from an idea

Is entrepreneurship really just a fancy word?  That is, who cares about entrepreneurship?

Growing networks

How do businesses work together? One possible example is the Food Hub, a story about food entrepreneurs, including farmers and growers.

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Oh Oberlin extra: Meeko Israel interviews Tiffany Ames

I don’t have a lot of background on Tiffany Ames. Meeko Israel interviewed her during the first hour of his Sept. 20 show, the same show I was on for the second half. I offer it as an Oh Oberlin extra.


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Oh Oberlin Extra: Peter Comings with Meeko Israel

So, there I was on the other side of the mic …  or pushing the working mic back and forth at WOBC with Meeko Israel. Israel asked me if I’d like to be on his show earlier this week after he was added to the Oh Oberlin Facebook page.

Yes. Because, you know, I’d been hoping to talk to him on mine.

He divided his two-hour show between myself and Oberlin College junior Tiffany Ames. (I will post that separately in the very near future.)

We talked about community, technology and media. He is interested in starting a podcast.

And I goofed on a date. At the end he asked me about my earliest childhood memory. I answered that I remembered walking through South Campus on my way to kindergarten hearing Kool and the Gang’s song, “Celebration.” That couldn’t have been as that song didn’t come out until 1980. To set the record straight, I did hear that song on South Campus, but I was in third grade.

This is an Oh Oberlin extra.

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