Community Voices - Amanda Schmidt

amanda schmidt picAmanda Schmidt has lived in Oberlin since 2011. She is Assistant Professor of Geology at Oberlin College and is active with the local Baha’i community. She studies human-landscape interactions, primarily in China and enjoys traveling with her 8-month-old son Colby. Amanda and her husband are competitive mountain bikers and race locally in mountain bike and cyclocross races.

Q: What word or image would you use to describe Oberlin?
A: I guess Oberlin reminds me of a friendly New England college town. I went to grad school in the northwest and there aren’t towns like this. Definitely friendly, and it’s kind of an eccentric town. Very accessible.

Q: Would you care to elaborate?

A: We talk a lot about how Oberlin is very walkable, we can walk from our house to downtown, I walk to my office. There are no chain restaurants. There are always locally owned restaurants and businesses and good options of places to eat and we don’t feel confined. Yes, we are close to Cleveland but we don’t go in to Cleveland to do things. This is really a nice vibrant community to live in. People are welcoming.

Q: If you defined “sustainability” for your own life and perhaps for the Baha’i community in Oberlin, how would you do that?

A: We have general things like “you should be kind to all creatures.” `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the faith, talks about in the future having small almost local agriculture based, we’re going to be in small communities and eating things from the surrounding areas. We talk a lot about being sustainable with human resources, and having our actions, the activities that we start and the activities that we participate in be things that we can maintain with the people in our community. What can do to train people to do things that are within our capacity within this community? In terms of our family, my husband and I try to make decisions that minimize our use of resources. We chose to buy a diesel car over the summer, knowing that he’s commuting and knowing for highway miles it’s better than the Prius. We use cloth diapers on our baby; we don’t keep the house too hot and not too cold in the summer.

Q: How do you feel these actions are important?

A: I think I’ve realized that I really care about the environment. Like, I really care. I have become a lot more passionate about alternative energy because you can’t just tell someone to put on a sweater or get a blanket or just wear a tank top in the summer, because I really care and I still have my heat at 68 because I have a baby. It’s the same with the cloth diapers, it’s not that we’re super anal, we use disposable diapers at night, but we don’t use a diaper service, we use cloth diapers that go on and off like regular diapers. We are trying very much to live in a way that is sustainable but I’m doing things that [other people] could imagine doing also.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to tell your fellow community members regarding care fro the environment or making sustainable life decisions?

A:  I think it often saves money. If you think about what you spend money on, you can be better for the environment AND saving money and that is probably a better incentive than vague, big picture things that don’t hit home to people very well. If you change your heat or put new insulation around your door to fix the draft or keep your door shut, little things, you will reduce your Columbia gas bill by this amount every month. It’s going to make a difference to people. We need to not be ashamed to go with the selfish route. We save a lot of money on diapers; we only spend about $500 up front on cloth diapers, which is about as much as you’d spend in 6 or 8 months with disposable diapers.

Q: Do you think about how you will raise your son with concerns for the environment and pass along the passion you have?

A: I want a lot of things to just be habit. Growing up in the 80s, it was habit that we never littered. I want my son to grow up thinking, this is the habit that we recycle everything. This is where we take the toilet paper rolls to the recycling not in the trash. We think about the impact of that kind of thing. I hope we involve him in discussions about putting in geothermal heat for the house. And he’ll be going with me for field work in the summer and I hope to be able to continue to take Colby and any future siblings so they can see that what I do is environmentally related. 

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Shelley (Rowsell) Rollins March 19, 2015

I was wondering if you had ever met my son Professor Jesse Rowsell?
I am his mother, Shelley and I am Baha'i. We are coming down there for the April 4 memorial symposium for him. I just wondered if there would be any of the Friends that I could meet while visiting.

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Guest March 15, 2017

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