March 2017 eNewsletter

From the desk of OES:

Oberlin student, Naomi, working at Lake Tahoe this Winter Term.

It’s been 2.5 months since our last eNewsletter! A heck of a lot has happened since we last wrote – both at Oberlin College and in the nation. Students participated in some incredible Winter Term projects, OES staff attended various conferences, and we wondered what would be next in Trump’s first 100 days.

Since inauguration day, the country has erupted in protests and political engagement. It’s been heartening to see people across the nation speak up and share ideas on how to face the nation’s challenges. We saw millions of people demonstrate at the Women’s March, write letters to their representatives, and many more are preparing for future actions. Millions of scientists and supporters of science are planning demonstrations to take place on Earth Day (March for Science). Then the very next weekend, millions more will take part in the People’s Climate March on April 29.

Trump’s threats to downsize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and rescind environmental programs, his support for the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipelines, and promises both to repeal environmental regulation and improve water and air quality concern us. Organizations and individuals will continue to stay abreast of policy updates. We will continue to work towards a more sustainable future, a future that is more equitable, cleaner, safer, and brighter. We believe there is a better way. For instance, Fortune Magazine reports that renewable energy jobs outpace the rest of the economy by 12 times! We believe that while you’re entitled to your own opinions, climate change doesn’t care whether you believe in it or not – it is happening.

Our keystone program is quickly approaching. Oberlin Ecolympics 2017 is coming up from April 14 – May 5! Oberlin College residences and the City public schools will compete to reduce their electricity and water use. At the same time, we will have dozens of community events, including a film screening at the Apollo, recycled paper origami craft making, family-friendly fun at the AJLC Open House, and much more! We are excited to continue planning an amazing competition and hope you will participate! More information to come next month.

– Bridget Flynn, Sustainability Manager

News & Announcements:

  • Ecolympics 2017: Oberlin Ecolympics 2017 will take place April 14 – May 5! The college residences will compete to reduce water and electricity in the first two weeks, and the city school will compete the next two weeks. Throughout the entire three-week competition, there will be an array of exciting events, including film screenings, DIY workshops, speakers, panels, and more!
  • Winter Term Recaps: We were inspired to see some sustainable, creative and adventurous winter terms in and around campus this past January! Naomi Fireman ’19 worked with the Basin Outdoor School in Lake Tahoe to teach winter ecology and snowshoeing to children through outdoor education. On the other side of the country, Ava Dishian ’19 and Liam Russo ’19 teamed up to Wwoof on a commercial organic blueberry farm in Dixie County Florida. Senior, Kirk Pearson worked with Oberlin alum Patrick Gilfeather to make a documentary on the process it takes for fish to get from the ocean to consumers. Here in our backyard, Anah Soble ’18 worked with the biology department to record and research squirrel behavior throughout Oberlin. Abby Carlstad ’17 worked with OES throughout Winter Term analyzing full-spectrum sustainability metrics via STARS and planning for Oberlin Ecolympics 2017!
  • Administrative Changes: 2017 will see quite a few personnel changes for Oberlin College. At the end of the year nearly 100 people retired after many years of serving the College through the voluntary separation incentive program. President Marvin Krislov was announced as the next President of Pace University and Vice President for Finance, Mike Frandsen, will become the next President of Wittenberg University. Congratulations to both of them on their new posts commencing this summer!
  • Green Room Interview:  Congratulations to Martha Hoffman who certified at the Platinum level in the Green Room Program. Martha was interviewed about her thoughts connecting meditation and environment, sustainability pet peeves, and more in an excellent interview that you can read here.
  • Standing Rock: After what we thought was a victory, activists have been removed from the site and the Dakota Access Pipeline seems to have been given a green light. Now the battle will be taken up in court.
  • Meghan Campus Energy Conference: The International District Energy Association (IDEA) held their annual Campus Energy Conference Feb 19 – 24. Meghan Riesterer attended and  presented on “Planning for a Carbon Neutral Campus” with our partner, Michael Ahern at Ever-Green Energy. Meghan presented in a second session on the Science Center retro-commissioning project entitled “Commissioning and the Impact on District Energy at Oberlin College”. See the full conference program and learn more here.
  • Ohio Campus Sustainability Summit: In the middle of Winter Term, Bridget attended the annual meeting of Ohio higher education campus sustainability officers. This year held at Denison University, Bridget spoke with colleagues from across the state on successes and challenges on our campuses.
  • Local Internship – Urban Forestry: The City of Oberlin is hiring an urban forestry intern. This opportunity will include software-based updates of the City’s urban forestry inventory, research and recommendations of urban forestry best practices and tree maintenance. Posting and application here, due March 27.
  • Greenscene: If you’re looking for a job, internship, event, or sustainability-related discussion, the local Oberlin Greenscene listserv is a good place for updates. You can subscribe by emailing with NO SUBJECT and only the following command in the body (delete your signature if you have one): subscribe greenscene

Campus sustainability staff from higher education institutions across the state met at Denison University

Upcoming Events:
For a full view of events visit the Environmental Events calendar:

March 3rdClimate–What’s New, What’s Next from 12:30-1:30pm @ AJLC Room 201: Karen Florini OC ’79, who served as the U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change under President Obama will explore recent major climate developments as well as possible future directions of environmental policy in light of changing national and international contexts. Her talk will conclude with an open discussion with participants of the present challenges and opportunities for engaging in climate policy and activism. [Calendar]
March 3rdField Trip to Tyler Farm from 5-6pm @ Tyler’s Hydroponic Farm: Come meet a man who feeds you! Tyler Gogolek started growing mums in 1996 and he has since expanded to hydroponic greens, greens Oberlin students eat every day! On this visit to Tyler’s Farm you will have a chance to learn about the challenges and opportunities of farming and regional food systems development. Sign up to RSVP here.
March 7thSolidarities in Difference and Faith: A Conversation from Ferguson from 4:30-5:30pm @ AJLC Hallock Auditorium: Reverend Traci Blackmon, a United Church of Christ pastor in Ferguson, Missouri, and Rabbi Susan Talve, a reform rabbi in St. Louis, will share lessons in movement building, solidarity, and faith from the perspective of their ongoing commitments to local, national, and global freedom struggles. [Calendar]
March 7thLake Erie As it Was and As it Is from 7:30-8:30pm @ AJLC Hallock Auditorium: Dr. Pete Richards, Emeritus Senior Research Scientist with the National Center for Water Quality Research and Visiting Researcher with the Oberlin Geology Department will present his research on the current and historic water quality of Lake Erie. This talk is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Oberlin Area.
March 13: OES Hangout 4:30-5:30pm @ Wilder 115: Join us for the monthly OES Hangout. Enjoy some delicious vegan food as you meet OES staff and interns, along with others interested in sustainability. We’ll talk about the upcoming Ecolympics and other topics. Bring your own cup, plate, and/or utensils if you can.

See more events or add yours to the Environmental Events Calendar here:

Oberlin students Anah and Laura using an anemometer to record squirrel movements

Recent actions by the Trump administration have brought major oil and gas pipelines back in focus. Here is a look at the Dakota Access Pipeline by the numbers.

The Dakota Access Pipeline would span 1,172 miles and pass through 50 counties in 4 different states. The pipeline would transport 470,000 barrels of oil a day, which is enough gas to drive a medium-sized car between Los Angeles and San Francisco, California over 330,000 times!  The proposed path of the pipeline takes it right under the Missouri River by the Sioux reservation in North Dakota. If the pipeline were to leak, the entire water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe could be contaminated in as little as 9-14 hours. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been resisting this pipeline for over 2 years since it was first proposed. Since then, over 300 tribes have formally stated their opposition to the pipeline in solidarity with the Standing Rock Tribe, and 1000s of people have traveled to Standing Rock to demonstrate against the pipeline. An additional 1.3 million people checked in to the Standing Rock reservation online to demonstrate their support of the protests. Recently, a petition started by Oberlin College Students in opposition of the pipeline gathered over 7,000 signatures from students and faculty at over 30 colleges and universities.

Green Tips

  • Get Geared up for Ecolympics!: The 2017 Ecolympics competition will be held from April 14th-May 5th, with dorms competing from the 14th through the 28th of April.  Ecolympics is all about reducing water and electricity consumption, so it’s a great time to make some changes to your lifestyle and see how much you can save! Sustainable actions to help conserve resources include taking shorter, cooler showers, washing your clothes in cold water, and remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room are easy individual actions to make! Collaborating with your friends and dorm-mates to save resources can make your reductions even more powerful. Hanging out or studying with your friends in common spaces like a lounge or at the library saves the resources several people would be using with the lights on in their individual dorm rooms and is a great way to encourage others to participate in Ecolympics! Check out our list of How You Can Reduce for more Ecolympics conservation tips.
  • Go Green for Spring: With temperatures warming up a bit and the sun returning from its winter hideaway, celebrate spring by bringing a piece of it inside with you! Houseplants can help brighten your room while cleaning the air and turning carbon dioxide into oxygen. Plants like spider plants, English ivy, and peace lilies are easy to grow and fairly forgiving if you forget to water them for a bit.

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