Community Voices - John Memmott

Optimized-John Memmott

John Memmott is a semi-retired teacher who spent many years in the Oberlin public schools. He’s also a long-time sea-kayaker and avid photographer. Recently, he’s gotten involved with getting the Environmental Dashboard system set up in Prospect Elementary. 

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

A: Well it’s all historical really. It’s the college, it’s the underground railroad, it’s that kind of thing that comes to mind.

Q: How did you come to live and work in Oberlin?

A: When I graduated from Antioch College, Oberlin schools were expanding staff, and it was one of the few places that actually had a program that matched my philosophy. They had an inquiry-related curriculum in the Elementary, mostly teaching around themes and projects. Plus, the community was just the kind of community I liked; not a big city, not a real small town. So that’s why I came, and once I got here, that’s it. Here to stay.

Q: Can you give me sort of your definition of sustainability as it relates to Oberlin?

A: I just look at sustainability as using our resources efficiently. You know, not being wasteful. Because in my mind, resources are always limited, and that’s what I’ve always tried to communicate to the kids, is that we shouldn’t be wasteful. It harms the environment, it harms our life-style--our living conditions. It doesn’t make sense, so that’s my feeling about sustainability.

Q: So what are you doing in your life that is moving Oberlin towards more sustainability?

A: Just being very conscious of how I use resources. Trying to make sure my home is efficient. And I try to make sure that my family does the same. The students I work with, I let them know that I don’t appreciate it if they’re wasteful with paper or with any other materials.

Q: Can you talk a little bit more about your involvement with the Environmental Dashboard and why and how you got pulled into that?

A: Mostly I got involved because I had a connection with the teachers in Prospect. And I had been involved with the Oberlin Project a bit too. I feel that advocating environmental issues is always a good thing, and also because selfishly, it got me back into Prospect. It allowed me to reaffirm the connections I have with the teachers.

Q: And what do you think about the Environmental Dashboard as an educational tool?

A: Well, I think the  primary thing I’m really excited about is the messaging aspect - getting kids’ work up there and their responses and their photos on the board. Because I know that’s how you get buy-in from the kids. If the kids know what they’re producing in the classrooms are likely going to show up on a board, they’re going to get excited; they’re going to be more willing to be involved in the whole project.

Q: What is something that you would say to Oberlin community members about engaging in the community?

A: Well, it’s just about people becoming aware, and I think the Oberlin Project’s main emphasis is getting that awareness out. And I think their look at it is the more people you get to come in and attend meetings--to even be introduced to the idea, the more those things will happen.

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Shane Clark is a 3rd year Environmental Studies major. She manages the Learning Garden at Prospect Elementary and is a member of the Contra Dance Club, the Pottery Co-op, and the Oberlin College Gab Year Students.



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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Shane Clark
Shane Clark is a 3rd year Environmental Studies major. She manages the Learning
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