Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Interview by: Anita Peebles
A.G. Miller is Professor of Religion at Oberlin College. He has lived in Oberlin with his wife Brenda Grier Miller since 1991. In 2001, he and several other Oberlin community members started the Oberlin House of the Lord Fellowship, part of the House of Lord Pentecostal churches. A.G. enjoys visiting his family, especially his granddaughter.
Q: What word or image would you use to describe Oberlin?
A: Unique. Oberlin is a unique community in northeast Ohio for sure, maybe even in the United States. Not only because of the college itself but also because of the history that surrounds it. It certainly becomes an interesting bubble in this part of Lorain County. It is a fairly diverse community but it is surrounded by less diversity. Unique says a lot about who we are as a community.
Unique says a lot about who we are as a community.
Q: If you defined sustainability for your own life and perhaps for the life of your congregation, how would you do that?
A: I think it means being conscious of environmental issues. Green tends to get limited to uses of resources and Im not sure that we have really come to understand the strong and broad social dimensions of that within this community. What do people really mean by green and how does that agenda impact the least of these?
Q: What actions are you or your congregation engaged in that relate to the definition of sustainability that you just gave?
A: I think we have taken several initiatives, working with our congregation to think about health studies, and building and developing a more health conscious congregation that includes food development. We encourage family and community gardens and encourage people to participate in the City Fresh program.
My congregation encourages community gardening and participation in the City Fresh program.
Q: Is there anything you would like to tell your fellow community members regarding care for the environment or sustainable living choices?
A: How do we think about environment when many of our neighbors in surrounding communities are farming as their livelihood? How do we think of and begin to develop conversations with them, particularly when their own economic survival is dependent upon certain kinds of agri-acts, agriculture activities, that may not be green or organic? How do we open up a conversation in the community that we are surrounded by? How do we help local small communities and individuals think about those efforts that can really be sustainable in terms of energy issues besides food issues and everything? I suspect that if you were to tap into most working class folk in his community, and ask them about their parents and how they lived, they would be the greenest people in town. They dont run the dryer to dry clothes, they have clotheslines. I dont know if they compost but they use and raise their own chickens. There are all kinds of things that get you to realize that there are all these things that are done, not out of a concern for green, but a concern for survival. How do we help those people think of those things? There are all kinds of ways to think about these issues, but we have lost great traditions from back in my day. Think of my grandmother, how many times did she use that tinfoil before she threw it away, recycle that tinfoil, youd be surprised how folk did things because they had to do these things to survive, but they had green potential.
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