Community Voices - Barbara Fuchsman

fuchsman2Barbara Fuchsman has been an Oberlin resident for 43 years. She is a layperson at the Oberlin Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. She works closely with the Santa Elena Project that supports human rights for workers in Guatemala. She enjoys gardening with her husband. 

Q: What word or image would you use to describe Oberlin?

A: One word I use is “oasis.” Oberlin is an oasis of liberal thinking. I do think Oberlin has got wonderful people and it’s a wonderful, warm place to live. 

Q: How is it you came to live in Oberlin?

A: My husband succeeded in obtaining a job and we were quite happy to come here. I went to a small college myself and I had been a trapped housewife in suburbia with no car, so I thought it was amazing to come here and walk places and people were friendly.

Q: If you defined “sustainability” for your own life and perhaps for the life of the Unitarian congregation in Oberlin, how would you do that?

A: Something that is sustainable is something you can keep on dong for as long as you want to and you won’t be prevented by a lack of resources or you won’t be destroying the environment around you.

Q: Can you speak to actions you take in your own life that relate to sustainability or in the life of the [Unitarian Universalist] Fellowship?

A: My husband and I enjoy gardening and we have a big compost pile that we use to improve our soil. When the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship began our work to become more sustainable, Cindy Frantz created a survey, which we all took, which gave us a gauge of how we as members were helping to live sustainable lifestyles. We took this survey as individuals, and then we made commitments, then filled out the survey later to see improvement as a congregation. The Fellowship has been certified as a Green Sanctuary Congregation. We have bought a building just this last year, so we have an awful lot to do because it’s expensive initially. It takes capital to put on a green roof, to insulate, to put a solar panel on the roof. Over the last few years we have been concerned about ethical eating, and now we have to be concerned about the building. We are talking about sponsoring a homemade, local foods exchange. We are creating a garden. There’s a narrow area between us and Computers Unlimited that we have taken up to clean, because there was an abandoned gas well there. We’re putting manure and leaves and developing permaculture. We hope to use it.

Q: How do you feel that these actions are important? How does it enrich the life of the congregation, having these considerations?

A: I think the garden project is quite important for the neighborhood and in fact plugging the gas well was extraordinarily important. There was a terrible smell and Columbia Gas was trying to blame the gas well. The ODNR came and in a couple days Columbia Gas was digging and they were exposing pipes with huge holes. The whole neighborhood was grateful and it was important. But making a garden here is going to make a big difference. The landscape people thought it would take longer to knock down a screen that made the open space a little bigger. One man had created a beautiful Zen garden that you could see from the road or walking, so people could see it when walking. What a wonderful improvement it was! It is important to the community. Why is it important to be sustainable? If we can recycle, which we are doing, and compost our stuff and try to use energy in the most efficient way, we can make it possible for our grandchildren to still live comfortably, when it comes to it. We are not going to stop Climate change, it’s happening, it’s true.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to tell your fellow community members about making sustainable life choices or considering care fro the environment as important?

A: Well, we are all interconnected and what we do, everything we do impacts back on ourselves. So since we are part of this wonderful interworking web, whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves. So beware. And that’s true socially as well as environmentally, and we need to realize that. If we do something destructive to others, it will come back in various ways to find me, and that’s certainly true in the environment. It’s part of Unitarian Universalism, that we are part of an interconnected web, which we know we are, and it does have huge implications.

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