April 2014 eNewsletter

From the desk of OES:

This is a busy time of the year for many people. Students are finishing up their semesters, completing thesis work, writing papers, studying for finals; faculty are wrapping up courses, assigning and grading final work, writing recommendations; staff are wrapping up projects and getting everything in order before the students leave for the summer. It’s easy to get consumed by our busyness.

Sustainability is a field that is never “done.” Our work is never over and in many ways, it only gets more urgent as time goes on. That can be incredibly overwhelming. I was really challenged by this article by Michael Kenser, Director of Sustainability at Auburn University, about how often folks in sustainability are tirelessly tackling sustainability issues that we forget about sustaining ourselves and our work. Are we working so much we forget to take our own advice and get outside to interact with the world we are trying to better? This includes visiting the spaces we are seeking to improve, spending quality time with our friends and family, exercising, and enjoying the practices that keep us grounded (whether that’s meditation, running, drinking wine with friends, journaling, yoga, or cleaning).

This year I’ve been really focusing on a better work/life balance and I can’t even express how valuable it’s been both for my personal health and for my/our work.  I encourage you all to be a little “selfish;” to do something good for you, to help you stay happy and sane. Make dinner with your friends, get to the gym, or go pet the cats at the Ginko Gallery. Ample evidence suggests that people are more creative, productive, and happier when they aren’t too stressed (how about that?!). Remember to take time for yourself amidst these busy weeks.

Speaking of busy, in the three weeks of Ecolympics, which ended on Friday April 25, we had a record-breaking 37 events! As you’ll see below (in the Numbers section), Oberlin saved more electricity and water than during last year’s competition and we had a whole host of terrific events. I want to thank everyone who participated in the competition through conservation and/or coming to events. I especially want to thank Abraham Rowe, Ecolympics Intern, for organizing so much of this year’s competition. I also want to thank Maggie Heraty who is a graduating senior and has been instrumental in Ecolympics since her first year. Thanks to everyone and keep up the great work!

– Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Coordinator

People enjoying the concert on Tappan Square featuring Quiet Life and student performers

People enjoying the concert on Tappan Square featuring Quiet Life and student performer

News & Announcements:

  • Ecolympics 2014: Ecolympics 2014 ran from April 4 to 25 this year. During that time, we had 37 events ranging from sustainability trivia to Arb service to guest lecturers to hair recycling. This year’s competition included the local schools for the first time. All the Oberlin City schools participated and saved a tremendous amount of energy! Prospect Elementary emerged as the winner. On the college side of things, Keep Co-op won for electricity, Johnson House for water, and Keep Co-op again in the co-op kitchen category. Harkness wins for the dorm with the highest percentage of residents attending events. See more in the numbers section below and a story to be published soon! [Kick off story]
  • Social Media: Do you follow OES on social media? We’ve been pretty active lately. We have a lot of fun connecting with folks of these platforms, as well as sharing events, news, announcements, cool articles, and the like. Check us out onFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.
  • Campus Sustainability Map & Brochure: This semester one of the ENVS 101 groups worked with OES to expand the campus sustainability map and create a brochure highlighting some of these locations. The online map and printed brochures will be available soon, but here’s a sneak peek of the google map: http://goo.gl/maps/o2QyY
  • Go More Meatless Campaign: Beginning during Ecolympics Dascomb and Stevenson expanded their plant-based offerings. Monday dinners in Dascomb and Tuesday dinners in Stevenson now feature an array of expanded vegetarian and vegan options (with limited meat options). The campaign seeks to improve the sustainability of our meals as well as the allow diners to enjoy the nutritional benefits of plant-based foods.


Upcoming Events:
For all environmental-related events on campus – check out the Environmental Events Calendar! If you would like it to be shared with you, email Bridget. If you would like one of your events to be added to eNewsletter, please email us.

May 11: Plant-A-Row for the Hungry (PAR) Registration @ 11AM Oberlin Inn Parking Lot: Oberlin Plant-A-Row (PAR), coordinated by Oberlin Community Service, encourages organizations and individuals to plant an extra row in their gardens to donate to food banks and food pantries, or to donate their surplus produce instead of throwing it out.
At the Big Parade, PAR will be tabling outside the Oberlin Inn, signing people up to receive free Garden Soxx (for those who don’t have gardens), and to receive volunteer help with planting/weeding/harvesting. They will also be distributing educational material or those who have never gardened before and free seeds.  [calendar]
May 7thEnvironmental Studies Information Center Party! @ 7pm AJLC: The Environmental Studies Information Center is having a party to spread the word about the re-opening and to celebrate the 40 new books that they’ve just purchased. It will be in the ESIC (on the second floor of the AJLC). There will be snacks!
May 8thOES Hangout–End of the Semester Edition! @ 4:30 Wilder 112: Come celebrate the end of the semester with OES! Gather together for the last OES potluck of the semester. Come relax, shmooze, and enjoy the impending summer with friends and great food!  Bring a dish to share, if you are able (vegan or vegetarian, please!). OES will provide celebratory foods, beverages, and cheer. All friends, family, community, and college members are invited to attend. We hope to see you there! [Facebook]
May 24th: Walk for Birders @ 6:45am Commencement/Reunion Welcome Center (65 E. College St., Suite 4) Calling all bird enthusiasts! This tour will be lead by Keith Tarvin, Associate Professor of Biology. Meet at the Welcome Center at 6:45 for some light morning refreshments. Group will leave from there by shuttle. [calendar]
May 24thPermaculture Workshop @ 10am George Jones Memorial Farm: In this workshop, Brad Charles Melzer, director of the George Jones Farm, and Nick Swetye, executive director of the New Agrarian Center, will teach an introduction to permaculture, which will cover the core principles, observational techniques, and provide insight into how one might integrate common elements of permaculture systems on their own properties or in their communities. The class will include a tour of the 70-acre George Jones Farm and Nature Preserve, so dress appropriately and bring proper footwear. [calendar]

For more info and to see a full list of events, please the Events tab on the OES website: http://new.oberlin.edu/office/environmental-sustainability/events/

Students learning about and receiving green products from Teens Turning Green.

Students learning about and receiving green products from Teens Turning Green.


Here are the Ecolympics 2014 results, in numbers.
Ecolympics 2014 was a huge success! This year, the dorms conserved13,182 kWh of electricity–enough energy to power 1.3 American homes for an entire year. We increased our energy savings by 3,112 kWh this year compared with last year’s competition, that’s enough energy to power the Firelands apartment complex for all of April!

This year, the dorms also saved 55,890 gallons of water, enough tofill about 2,300 bathtubs! We increased our water conservation by1,353 gallons over last year’s competition, equivalent to about 54 ten-minute showers.

In fact, OES got word that Oberlin College was one of the Top 5 water reducers in the nation during Campus Conservation Nationals! Press release to be issued. Great job, everyone!

Did you know?
Oberlin College Oberlin Stories is working to compile 1000 stories from Obies (students, alumni, faculty, and staff). These stories are very different, but all involve different Oberlin experiences and opportunities. The initiative has not compiled 1000 stories yet, but of the couple hundred collected, there are a number that touch on sustainability topics. There are stories about the Free Store, the Big Swap, the Environmental Dashboard, having a carbon neutral home in Oberlin, and more. You can read these cute, insightful, clever, funny, thoughtful stories here.

Green Tips

  • The Big Swap: As the end of the semester draws near, and you’re packing your things up, don’t throw things you don’t want anymore in the trash! Just because you don’t want or need something anymore doesn’t mean someone else can’t put it to use. In the coming weeks, the RCT will be placing boxes in each dorm and co-op where you can place unwanted clothes, school supplies, and dorm furnishings. The RCT will collect these boxes and make everything available (for free!) in Wilder Main from May 12th-18th! All unclaimed items will be sorted and donated or taken to the Free Store.
  • Eat Local: The Oberlin Farmers Market will open for the season on May 3rd! The Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 9am to 1pm in front of the Public Library, and features fresh, local food, and live music! Check out their website here for more information.
  • Keep the Bugs Away: Warmer weather means the return of some not-so-pleasant guests like mosquitoes and stink bugs. Luckily, planting herbs and flowers like lemon balm, lavender, and peppermint can help keep these bugs away from your house, and some of them can be applied externally as insect repellent! Check out this article for more information.


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