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Oldies and Goodies: The Greenest Buildings Are Already Built

Posted by Pat Murphy on September 7, 2012 in Energy Matters

Older buildings are often unfairly maligned as great energy hogs and money pits that are too expensive to rehabilitate.  While not every building can be preserved, demolishing existing buildings to make way for new is costly, gobbles up new resources, and adds to the landfills of the country.  Many older buildings have irreplaceable architectural details and a strong sense of space and pride of place that is rarely found in new construction, no matter how "green."   

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, together with local preservation organizations such as the Cleveland Restoration Society and the Oberlin Heritage Center, are working to encourage property owners of older buildings to weatherize, retrofit and rehabilitate them in ways that both retain their character defining special features and adapt them for 21st century living.   Start by having an energy audit; you can call POWER at 440 789 4531 for a 1 hour assessment, or call Columbia Gas at 1-877-644-6674 to receive a thorough heat loss inspection. Then learn what you can about your building's history.  Get to know your building, inside and out.  Inspect it regularly, and be proactive in addressing maintenance concerns.  

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Rethink Your Ride Sponsor Spotlight: Swerve Bike Shop

Posted by Linda Arbogast on August 30, 2012 in Resilient Economy

Linda ArbogaSwerve picst interviewed Rethink Your Ride business sponsor Chris Robinson, owner of Swerve.  Swerve is a local bike shop and has prices that range from $1 to over $7,000.  Chris said that Oberlin has had a history of having more bikes than cars and upon noticing that a bike shop was missing from this equation, it was an easy decision to start a bike shop business.

Oberlin has many people who enjoy biking around town, it is also a town located along the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.%20Find%20them%20on%20Facebook:%20%20http:/www.facebook.com/pages/Swerve-Bike-Shop/281943428491842?ref=ts%20%20">North Coast Island Trail  and downtown.  In addition, Oberlin serves as a spur Route along the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.%20Find%20them%20on%20Facebook:%20%20http:/www.facebook.com/pages/Swerve-Bike-Shop/281943428491842?ref=ts%20%20">Backroads to Beaches trail.  Last but not least, Oberlin is also a hub along the Underground Railroad ride for bicyclists traveling to Canada by way of Detroit.  For more information on the alternative route visit: http://www.adventuretravelnews.com/new-cycling-route-brings-underground-railroad-alive.

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Polycultures - Food Where We Live

Posted by Brad Masi on August 29, 2012 in Local Foods

The word “polycultures” describes farm systems that include a number of diverse crops growing together. A common example of a polyculture system is the “three sisters”, a growing system that includes corn, beans, and squash growing together in the same spot. The corn plant grows quickly, providing support for vining bean plants. Squash plants have shallow roots and wide leaves that produce shade and limit competition from weeds. The roots of bean plants fix nitrogen in the soil, adding fertility and providing extra nitrogen that corn plants need so survive. All three of the plants provide a yield of food. They also provide complementary services to support each other.

Polycultures can also be used to describe the social movement that has formed around the support of local food systems, including the collaboration of diverse communities, both rural and urban, around the provision of local food.

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Rethink Your Ride Sponsor Spotlight: Simply Elegant Candle & Gift

Posted by Linda Arbogast on August 24, 2012 in Resilient Economy

Simply Elegant PicOberlin Community Services Executive Director Linda Arbogast interviewed Chris Heinebrodt and Amanda Heinebrodt about their local business called Simply Elegant Candle & Gift.  Their store is located at 29 South Main Street, Oberlin (former location of Infinite Monkey.) Chris Heinebrodt is the owner and President and his wife Amanda is the Vice President of this Oberlin business.

Chris and his wife Amanda consider their store a boutique of candles and gifts.  Their store items price range from 99 cents to $120.  The reason Chris and Amanda opened up a store in Oberlin is because they grew up in Lorain County.  After college they moved to Oberlin because they loved the downtown.  They waited for a spot to open up downtown and then the perfect spot became available.

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Technology is Not Enough

Posted by Dale Lucas on August 23, 2012 in Energy Matters

How much can we rely on technological advances to solve our energy problems?  Some new technologies have the potential to be a powerful way to save energy.  For example, automating HVAC systems and enhancing their digital control capabilities has saved lots of energy and money in buildings. However, many technologies -- including these -- require some level of human intervention to fully benefit from them. If people don’t use the technology properly, the expected benefits will not be realized.

The most important people are those who directly manage the new technology:  building operators, facilities staff, etc. If they are given a new system, but not taught how to use it, the system will not work properly.  I have witnessed this first hand during a recent installation of an automated and digitized HVAC system at a local institution. The Operations & Maintenance Staff didn’t have the required knowledge and experience to operate and maintain the new technology, and the system underperformed.  Also, too many staff members had the ability to change system operating parameters without a full understanding of how these changes would impact the operation. There was also reluctance from a few staff members to actually experiment and optimize the new technology. Eventually this harmed the equipment energy performance.

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From Waste to Food - Thinking in Multiples of Four

Posted by Brad Masi on August 22, 2012 in Local Foods

food to waste

 

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Rethink Your Ride Sponsor Spotlight: Ben Franklin & MindFair Books

Posted by Sharon Pearson on August 21, 2012 in Resilient Economy

Ben Franklin PicI was walking toward Ben Franklin and noticed that I was 20 minutes late according to the downtown clock as a result of another interview.  I underestimated the enthusiasm of business owners to want to talk to me about their business. I quickly rushed in to Ben Franklin and asked for Krista who was already standing there appearing to be a bit out of breath herself.  She said she had also rushed thinking that she was late for her appointment with me.  This is the camaraderie that takes place in Oberlin when a person spends time shopping in downtown and involved with community events.

Krista told me that each Ben Franklin store is independently owned so the setup and displays are different.  There are some Ben Franklin stores that have turned into a craft store so many younger people are surprised to learn that the Ben Franklin in Oberlin is a variety store filled with books (new & used), office supplies, health & beauty items, household goods, fabric, custom framing, fair trade gift items, snacks,  and candy.  Krista says that her store is ever evolving to adapt to the needs of her customers, which is the reason people should visit often.

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Local Business Spotlight: Ginko Gallery & Studio

Posted by Sharon Pearson on August 16, 2012 in Resilient Economy

Ginko picIt was a rainy and somewhat cold Friday morning as I waited outside the door for Liz Burgess to open the door to begin our interview.  As any normal business owner is, she approached the door looking as though she had something on her mind but as soon as she saw my face she began to smile.  She quickly started her computer and turned on music on low as it to set the atmosphere for the day before we sat down in front of the glass case that she recycled from possibly another store that operated in Oberlin.

Liz Burgess is the Owner/Manager of the Ginko Gallery & Studio.  Ginko Gallery & Studio specializes in art made by individual from smaller studios.    Most of the art are considered contemporary crafts with an emphasis at times on local resources, which may be wood, glass, trash metals, etc.  None of the artists are from big companies or studios.  Ginko Gallery also has artist studios and has a large variety of art supplies. The items in her store range from 50 cents to $2,500.  For the most part the artists try to keep some items at $20 or under, keeping in mind that people desiring to find affordable gifts.

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Adventures in Sustainability

Posted by AJ! Clonts on August 15, 2012 in Community Voices

My fiancé, Sharon Pearson, introduced me to the world of sustainability. Much of my life I had some knowledge of recycling and energy saving practices: however, I did not realize the full impact I had in making my community a better place, both now and for generations in the future.

Upon arriving to Ohio from North Carolina, my recycling efforts began quite simply, with saving aluminum cans and taking them to a recycling center for money.  With further knowledge and education, I began recycling at home by sorting metals and plastics labeled as recyclable for trash day, using a recycling bag as a separator. This bag was placed next to the trashcan as a reminder to consider recycling over throwing our waste away. After a short period of time, we were filling up the recycling container much faster than the “regular” refuse container.  In fact, we do not place the refuse container out on the curb but every few weeks.

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Pat Murphy
Pat Murphy is the Executive Director of the Oberlin Heritage Center. She enjoys
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Brad Masi
Brad Masi is a graduate of Oberlin College and long-time Oberlinian. Previously
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Linda Arbogast
Linda Arbogast is the Executive Director of Oberlin Community Services, providi
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Brad Masi
Brad Masi is a graduate of Oberlin College and long-time Oberlinian. Previously
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Linda Arbogast
Linda Arbogast is the Executive Director of Oberlin Community Services, providi
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Dale Lucas
Dale Lucas is the Manager of Plant Operations at Lorain County Community College
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Brad Masi
Brad Masi is a graduate of Oberlin College and long-time Oberlinian. Previously
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Sharon Pearson
Sharon Pearson is the Program Coordinator for the Oberlin Project and liaison to
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Sharon Pearson
Sharon Pearson is the Program Coordinator for the Oberlin Project and liaison to
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AJ! Clonts
AJ! Clonts was born in Murphy, North Carolina and moved to Ohio three years ago.
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