Community Voices - Matt Adelman

feve interiorMatt Adelman (whose wife is the Assistant Director of the Oberlin Project) is an Oberlin resident and one of the owners of The Feve. He genuinely loves Oberlin and is committed to care for both the environment and the Oberlin community. He has taken steps with The Feve such as a recycling initiative, a lighting retrofit, and fundraisers for local non-profits.

Q: What are some words and images you would use to describe Oberlin?

A: The first thing I think of is that Oberlin is changing. It’s a good time to be in Oberlin. I feel like there are some remarkable things happening that have a lot to do with the Oberlin Project. It’s a really important time for Oberlin as a community to come together with the college to have Oberlin stand out as something. Oberlin has a history of standing out in the world. Those things tend to be cyclical. So I think now is our opportunity for Oberlin as an entire community, college and city, to be a leader in something. And that is the Oberlin Project. I think that there are a lot of people in town that are encouraged by the possibility that brings and certainly we are at the Feve. I see it as an opportunity for businesses and residents and students to participate in something that is bigger than what many other places are doing in our country, and maybe set some examples for other places around the world.

Q: I’m curious how you would define sustainability, whether that be something that is environmental or some other combination of factors and how you see yourself fitting into that?

A: Sustainability I think is a word that gets overused. It has a specific meaning - sustainable is to be able to make something go on. People use it so freely in contexts that don’t really mean anything.

Q: Some people think of sustainability as something that embodies environmental concern, economic development, and also social justice. Do you think there’s a better word to describe all that?

A: That’s the million dollar question. I think that Oberlin can become a more sustainable community with practices of the Oberlin Project. So a lot of what needs to happen is people in the community need to understand the potential of this idea of sustainability. You hear buzz about what really is the Oberlin Project, these mutterings of gentrification which I think are incredibly inaccurate. It’s an incredible gift that Oberlin is getting to have people work on this project that covers more than environmental concerns, and creates economic development and jobs, to help all community members. But the word ‘sustainability’ has always been a word that makes me cringe.

Q: For lack of a better word at the time being, what are some of the specific sustainable actions that you’re taking at The Feve and in your own life?

A: We’ve not ever been big at tooting our own horn so we don’t really publicize the things that we do. We probably should do more of that and we probably will do more of that just so people can be educated. When somebody finds a place that they like, and they realize that place does those things that are important like recycling and such, then they’re more likely to do it themselves at home. For that reason, I think it’s more important for us to be a bit more local. We recently, through the Oberlin Project, learned of the rebate program that is available to businesses that allows you to purchase certain energy efficient items like light bulbs and equipment. So we replaced all our incandescent bulbs with LEDs. Currently, and this is not the full of extent of what our savings will be, we’re saving over 6000 watts an hour by replacing our incandescent bulbs. So we’ve saved a lot of money by doing this LED project. And the Oberlin Project helped us - the reason we could afford it was because of the rebate program, and you know, doing it helps us be a more active participant in the practices that the Oberlin Project is trying to do. The other things we do - we filter our grease to run our van. It’s a diesel van that has been converted to run on vegetable oil so all of the fryer grease that we use gets filtered and put into the van. We have since started recycling I would say over 95% of our corrugated cardboard, which has reduced the size of our dumpster. We try to recycle all of our glass and all of our aluminum and all of our plastic and all of our steel, and you know, we would be thrilled to be able to compost. We would be, dare I say, excited to use compostable carryout containers if that was something that was happening in our community. I would support the idea of making compost mandatory in town. To have curbside composting would be, well, the right thing for Oberlin to do, for a forward-thinking community. As far as The Feve goes, we’ve really reduced our waste to almost as little as we can possibly have. We’re probably saving millions of pounds of trash, I’m just guessing. But it would really have to be close to that - trash that would otherwise be going to the landfill.

Q: Do you have any specific messages about environmental consciousness or any other shape or form of sustainability that you would want to share with other community members?

A: We’re just trying to lead by example. We have the ability to be leaders and we are sort of leaders. And you know, with success in popularity, not everyone is going to like you, but we try to do what we can to be liked by everybody. We like to do what we do and we love Oberlin. Oberlin is such a great place. I really feel like I belong here, and we like doing things to make things good for people. And we just started doing this thing that doesn’t really apply but we just started doing these fundraisers for nonprofit organizations. Our first one we did for the stray cats, so we did an all you can eat taco bar that was $10, and all of that money went to cats. That evening they raised like $1500 bucks. So it’s something that we’re going to continue to do for different organizations, places that are in Oberlin. It’s just another thing we’re doing to help people in the community...so that’s that.

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I am a second year Oberlin College student majoring in environmental studies and piano. I come from San Rafael, California, and have been involved with sustainability at home as well as in Oberlin, especially through local foods and community gardens. I have also had the pleasure of interning with Zion Community Development Corporation for the past few months; I have been helping organize their community forums, editing their newsletters, and working in their community garden, and I am glad to have gotten to know the local community better in the process. I look forward to making more community connections, and hearing about all different kinds of creative ways people are engaged with sustainability locally.

Comments

Guest
Camille Toe March 24, 2015

This article fails to mention that Matt Adelman's wife is the assistant director of the Oberlin Project. That's a potential conflict of interest and a breach of journalism ethics to not mention such a detail.

Guest
Sharon Pearson March 24, 2015

Yes Heather Adelman is the Assistant Director of the Oberlin Project. This is an article written by a student to promote positive sustainable thought and action. Everyone in Oberlin knows this and it was not omitted for any other reason than the fact that Oberlin is a small town where many people are involved in many different things. Thank you for pointing out the fact that perhaps it should have been pointed out and welcome any suggestions for improvement of future articles.

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Guest March 15, 2017

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Jake Holtzman
I am a second year Oberlin College student majoring in environmental studies and
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