Community Voices - Ms. Margaret Christian

12042013 YC margaretchristianPhoto by Yvette Chen OC '16Think about all the places you have walked. Have you walked to the public library? Or to school? To pick up some groceries downtown? Or to friend’s house?

Margaret Christian has walked back and forth a countless number of times to these places and to others. Why not drive a car instead? There are a number of reasons she could tell you, from health reasons to environmental ones. There is also a fundamental difference for Ms. Christian in the way you perceive the town as a walker. She says, “I see the changes of the seasons, I see the cans that are left behind.” So perhaps walking can be a learning experience as well, explains Ms. Christian. A way to get in touch with the surrounding environment and to gain a better sense of the community, with all of its unique characteristics and rich history. Ms. Christian personally likes to walk to the Westwood cemetery, because it is a place she can come back to, remember and learn about the people that were here who make up the history of the town.

Ms. Christian also tells me that when she walks she notices the cans and trash that gets left on the street. Seeing this so directly has made her even more passionate about recycling and consciousness of waste. Moreover, she is able to see the larger cycles in our patterns of living - how day in and day out cans get left behind, or recyclables go in the trash, and the garbage men come to pick up the trash. Just a simple awareness of this cycle is important to Ms. Christian, and is in large part a result of her walking. And awareness of these patterns does more for her than confirm the need for recycling; in a larger sense, it has brought her to view Oberlin as one community that is connected in more ways than many people think about. As many people talk about a divide between Oberlin College and the Oberlin community, Ms. Christian emphasizes how important it is that the college “realize that they are intrinsically involved in the land. They are part of the community.” She hopes for all of Oberlin to see itself as “a community - period.”

In addition to a greater sense of connectedness, the health benefits of walking are also very important to Margaret Christian. “I don’t take any medications,” she says, “and I attribute it to walking.”  Despite being the oldest in her family, Ms. Christian tells me she is the wellest. I was inspired to hear how walking in itself has had such a major positive effect on her life and wellbeing. To explain this to me in one brief sentence, Ms. Christian very eloquently says, “I walk to live.” I think these few words stuck with me the most at the end of the day - a beautiful reflection of the simple, yet powerful act that is a part of Margaret Christian’s life every day.

So perhaps walking can be a learning experience as well, explains Ms. Christian. A way to get in touch with the surrounding environment and to gain a better sense of the community, with all of its unique characteristics and rich history.

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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.



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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Jane May 1, 2013

thanks to all three of you, and especially to you, Margaret, for sharing your wisdom as an 'elder of Oberlin.'

Guest
Jane Campbell Arrington May 10, 2013

A most wonderful woman, who not only speaks her mind (always), but even in her "older" age, she is healthier than many much younger.

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