Community Voices Articles

The Community Voices component of Environmental Dashboard is designed to celebrate and promote thought and action that build stronger, more sustainable and more resilient communities. Community members representing the diversity of this community are being interviewed to share their perspectives. Click below to view recent interviews or search by subject name, interviewer or any keyword or topic to view associated stories. Many of the quotes used for Community Voices slides are taken from these interviews.


Janet Haar

Mrs. Janet Haar, the director of the Oberlin Business Partnership, likes to call her business a “three-legged stool”. The OBP combines a chamber of commerce, main street organization, and visitors bureau all into one. Economic and environmental sustainability plays a key role in not only her professional life, but in her personal life as well.

Kim Koos

Kim Koos is a teacher and IB Coordinator at Prospect Elementary School. Aside from her passion for education, she loves spending time with her family, swimming, reading, and gardening. She is also very artistic and loves to create items in various mediums.

Valerie Hardnett

Valerie Hardnett    Interview by: Jake Holtzman   Q: What words would you use to describe Oberlin? A: Diverse; unique; different perspectives, religions, and people; traditional. Q: How would you define sustainability? A: SPE – spiritually, physically, and economically. Sustainability to me means keeping your resources. Because we’re in trouble if we run out of resources – water, electricity. Sustaining everything. […]

Lisa Kavanaugh

Lisa Kavanagh is a retired Oberlin resident with a rare mitochondrial disorder caused by Lyme disease who is passionate about influencing change towards a sustainable future. Although she only has a few hours of energy a day, she is very active through online forums, writing letters, and making environmentally conscious consumer choices. More than anything she makes sure she starts with herself, nurturing a holistic philosophy with the natural environment.

Chuck Annable

Chuck Annable is the President/Horticulturist at Green Side Up Garden Center. He is an avid traveler and has visited 49 of the 50 United States. He loves to snorkel, hike, canoe, and explore natural areas.

Ron Bier

Ron Bier is a Chemistry and Environmental Science teacher at Oberlin Senior High School. While he hails originally from the east side of Cleveland, he and his family currently live in Amherst, Ohio.

Che Gonzalez

Oberlin resident Che Gonzalez is a librarian at the Oberlin Public Library. A few years ago, she started a home-based business for affordable, healthy foods. Gardening since she was a kid, Ms. Gonzalez grows many of her own vegetables at home.

Melissa Thompson

Melissa Thompson is an Oberlin resident who has made sustainable changes in her home and daily life as a result of POWER (Providing Oberlin With Efficiency Responsibly). She has lived with her husband and two children in Oberlin for over thirteen years and believes that being environmentally conscious is a natural part of being part of this community.

Maureen Simen

Maureen Simen received her BA from Michigan-Flint in English and Social Sciences. She then pursued a Masters in Reading Education from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She has years of experience in curriculum design and development, as well as educational technology. Currently, Maureen works at the Bonner Center for Service and Learning as the Coordinator for America Reads. Outside of work, she enjoys fixing up her house as well as relaxing and reading the classics. Her love for reading is seen in her job, where she inspires college students involved in the America Reads program to volunteer in many schools around the Oberlin area to promote literacy.

Ayana Morrison

Ayana Morrison is going to be a senior at Oberlin High School in the fall and is born and raised in Oberlin. This summer she was a Ninde Summer Fellow. As a Fellow, she was a role model for the Aspiring Ninde Scholars during their summer program. She was especially helpful in matters of cooking, visual art, and writing, as these are some of her talents.