Community Voices - John and Anne Elder

phpGv2iotAMJohn and Anne Elder are residents of Kendal at Oberlin. John served as Pastor of the First Church in Oberlin UCC from 1973 to 1991. Anne was a Supervisor in the Lorain City Schools from 1973 to 1991. John enjoys papermaking, printmaking and watercolors. Anne is a Court Appointed Special Assistant to advocate for children in the court system.

Q: What words or images would you use to describe Oberlin?

Anne Elder: I was on the [Community Engagement Team for the Oberlin Project] and the first question and all the people that were on the survey was a one word description of Oberlin. And my job this past week was to go over everybody’s responses and look at all the one words and choose five to suggest Oberlin. So I have been looking at A LOT of one word descriptions of Oberlin, and fearless and weird did not come up [laughs].

John Elder: The Kendal word tends to be something like “stimulate.”

AE: The largest one was “home,” which I was very intrigued – and then was “welcoming,” and then was “engaged.”

Q: How did you come to live in Oberlin?

AE: Because I went to college here and then my husband came back to work so I came with him – so we happen to live here.

JE: My father taught in the college for two years before I was born. We come through Oberlin every summer on vacation and so I was imprinted with Oberlin. You say college? I say Oberlin. And so I don’t think I ever followed through with an application other than Oberlin.

Q: But, well, if you had to define sustainability for your own life, what would that be?

AE: It would mean using as much of the earth’s resources as I need, and not to excess…mostly just not overusing the resources.

JE: It would be nice if we could even enhance the resources so future generations would have a better planet.

Q: Can you describe any actions that you, personally in your own home, or also in the wider Kendal community are taking, that relate to sustainability?

JE: We work hard on the environmental community to help people, to be conscious and helpful as possible, but there are limits, you have less control over your total community than you have as an individual.

AE: We use our bicycles whenever we can, and that’s mostly depending on the weather. And we had our Martin Luther King project this week. We went over to the Boys and Girls Club on Pleasant Street. I walked through there the other day and there was so much litter as the snow disappears. And we asked them if we came over with garbage bags, if they’d like us to help pick up. And right away, they said, “Sure!” We planned for half an hour on Wednesday, you bring the plastic bags and we’ll take all the kids out. We went, and, kicking and screaming, we got all the kids out, and they had a good time. Half an hour and it looks different. And they just began to see, a lot of interesting things because [the yard] was clear. Then they had to take care of the trash, we separated it so that everybody had a trash bag and a recycling bag, and the recycling we took back to Kendal because Kendal recycles, and we recycled all of those things.

JE: Kendal is just beginning the renovation of its original cottages, which will require the updating of the HDH (?) systems and the residents are pushing very hard to have geothermal over all of the cottages and I think we will accomplish it but there is some reluctance in some places in the organization.

Q: How do you feel these actions are important?

AE: Well, again, it goes back to making the planet be safer and to use less of the resources so that there will be things left for our grandchildren and their children.

JE: And for the residents, the payback means, lower costs, we have to watch our expenses.

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

JE: We should put out more distinct recycling containers. When we visited Japan, if you dropped paper, you’d get scolded. The ethos is so strong, and then you go to other countries where that’s not part of the ethics at all.

AE: But I think that because we have so much, excess of everything, everything comes in a bag or a plastic. When we went into the gym today, there were two big mail bags that someone had taken their mail out of and someone had just taken their mail out of and thrown them. But I wonder how long they would have stayed there, and I wondered why somebody would just take their mail and throw it. People are still thinking it’s okay to drop things, I’m finished with this bottle – toss it out. How do you change that?

JE: What are we doing? I think that’s the question.

Q: Are there things that you think that the country as a whole, or just the city of Oberlin, or just the Dashboard Project, could do to inspire more consciousness or inspire other people to take sustainable actions? How do we change the conversation from throwing things out to recycling and reusing?

AE: I meant to bring along that article that we had copied and put up on the board about someone who had gone to the grocery store and gotten a paper bag and put her goods in and the clerk said “well you probably don’t know but we don’t use paper anymore. When you were growing up, you didn’t do green.” And so the woman just said, “yeah, I guess we didn’t do green,” but we always just…we had glass milk bottles that were always recycled, we brought them back, we drove one car, we always put our clothes on the clothesline, didn’t have a clothesdryer, but we didn’t know about green. It was 1930s when we were growing up -- by today’s standards, it would meet all of the sustainability goals. But we didn’t have to plan that, and we weren’t saying we were being green. We did it because there wasn’t an alternative. When you bought something, they didn’t wrap it in puff-balls and when you went to the grocery store, you picked up separate apples – you didn’t have plastic bags of apples and separate things, and your milk was always in a glass bottle, and we didn’t say we were being green. We just need to remember that, sometimes it’s the march of civilization that’s done us in, and do we want to go back? Or do we just want to be much more thoughtful?

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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.

Comments

Guest
Barbara Evans June 10, 2013

Anne and John Elder, I sure enjoyed reading this interview this evening. Ann, I remember the wonderful and respectful times we had working together in Lorain City Schools helping students and the community.

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John Thompson September 12, 2015

Anne and John, I am presently undertaking family research and traced Levi Cartmell (my grandfather Levi Frederick Cartmells uncle) to Pennsylvania. Anne I believe that Levi was your grandfather. I am interested in the famil connections as II also believe my grandfathers brother Tom went to the US to join his uncle Levi. I have quite a lot of UK and Canadian family history if you are interested.

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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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