Community Voices - David Snyder

Optimized-david snyder.YCPhoto by Yvette Chen OC '16David Snyder has been a resident of Oberlin since 2006. He serves as the Clerk of the Oberlin Friends Meeting. David has long engaged in environmental activism and shared  that he inspired his parents to get involved in the nuclear freeze movement in the 1970s.

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

A: Progressive. Cutting edge, in some ways, in terms of efforts towards meaningful sustainability and the infrastructure to support that. I’m involved with two nonprofits outside of the friends meeting that are actors in the Oberlin Project effort. I am aware that there are things happening in this community that are connected to the climate initiative.

Q: How would you define sustainability for your own life and the life of your congregation?

A: I think of it mostly in terms of having minimal impact on natural systems, minimal reliance on resources that are finite and dwindling.

Q: What actions are you engaged in that relate to sustainability?

A: On a personal level we spend a lot of time, effort and money on having our home be as efficient as possible. The two local nonprofits I’m involved with are concerned with local sustainable agriculture and food access and increasing the efficiency of low-income homeowners’ homes. With the [Oberlin Friends] Meeting, there have been various interest groups within the meeting, folks sharing information about living with a lighter footprint.

Q: How do you feel these actions are important?

A: The average citizen of the US consumes a hugely disproportionate share of the world’s resources and it seems morally imperative to rejigger that in important ways.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to tell your fellow community members regarding care for the environment and making sustainable life choices?

A: I think as much as anything there are all kinds of levels of decisions. I am aware that an awful lot resides in people’s behavioral patterns and awareness of “gee, if I did this, I could lower my monthly electric bill by five dollars.” My wife and I have done an experiment the last couple months of turning off the power strip to the TV and the stereo when it’s not in use. That’s actually something she suggested; I usually am the instigator. It wasn’t until Cindy Frantz wrote an editorial that said that turning on hot water in any sink in the house to wash your hands only gives the hot water heater the “start up” message when by the time you finish washing your hands the hot water probably won’t even have arrived at the sink. I told my wife that for some time, but it was hearing it from somewhere else that did it. “Oh, I’ve heard that before.” So those behavioral things are significant but also pay focused attention to what you do because we all have habits that should change.

Q: Are there people or things that inspire you to have developed these habits?

A: I’m a tightwad by nature, in a good way, I hope. I’ve always just thought back to the early days of the environmental movement in the 70s, when we developed habits and awareness, many of which have stayed with us.

Q: So what sort of environmental stuff were you doing in the early 70s that got you thinking this way?

A: Well, we have a wood stove that we’ve kept during all our moves from place to place. The wood stove was part of the first oil crunch. I think it came out of that awareness that we need not rely on centralized utilities for power. Wood heat is not without its problems, but as Carl McDaniel would say, “It’s a hundred year carbon cycle rather than a multimillion year carbon cycle.” A lot of what we burn I pick up on the curb when there’s been a windstorm and when people put their tree limbs on the side of the street for the city to pick up. And there was an important mentor of mine, they had built a cedar house outside of town where they would heat with wood.

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Anita Peebles is a 3rd year Religion and Environmental Studies major from Eaton Rapids, Michigan. She is a Bonner Leader, a member of the Interfaith Student Council and a co-leader of Girls in Motion.



Photographer Info: Yvette Chen is a photographer for the Dashboard Project who is interested in the power of media and images. Originally from Princeton Junction, New Jersey, Yvette is a first year student at Oberlin College planning to study sociology and economics. Other than photography, in her spare time, she enjoys cooking and running through Ohio's rural landscapes.

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Guest March 15, 2017

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Anita Peebles
Anita Peebles is a 3rd year Religion and Environmental Studies major from Eaton
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