Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Interview by: Enzo Cabili
Alan Mitchell is Oberlin Community Services (OCS) Food Coordinator and an active Oberlin resident, exemplary in his care for others. Mitchell grew up in Oberlin and after being away for a decade, during which time he attended college and served in the Navy, he returned to raise his family in an environment he feels can teach his kids essential values.
Q: What word(s) or image(s) would you use to describe Oberlin?
A: Forward thinking. In terms of images, having grown up here I always think back to the architectural piece, right there on the corner of Professor and College: its those railroad tracks that run directly into the ground that symbolize the Underground Railroad.
Q: Some people use the word sustainability to mean actions that enhance/maintain the economic, environmental, and social welfare of the Oberlin community. What does sustainability mean in your life?
A: Not losing ground, economically or socially in terms of the degradation of values and friendship networks, and also being able to re-instill the values that weve kind of lost in our society: conservation, recycling, composting.
"Sustainability is being able to re-instill the values that weve kind of lost in our society: conservation, recycling, composting."
Q: What actions are you engaged in that relate to sustainability?
A: We are actively trying to educate all of our clients so that they have a role in the local food system in terms of being producers as well as consumers. We are a zero waste partner and recycle all different kinds of products that come in. We are also able to redistribute some of the wealth [in the community], because we use OCS as a space to donate items. Working primarily as a Food Distribution Coordinator I can tell you that usually most of the food that we get comes to us and we buy it within seconds, putting to use things that would otherwise not be usable, and we are able to help people to live by giving them those items.
Q: Do you have any advice for your fellow community members regarding care for the environment or sustainable living and respect for nature?
A: Just personally, the values that I think are important that Id love for more people to care more about are food and shelter, because they are things that may not be human rights, but they are human needs. They are things that we could probably do a better job at helping people to achieve, because these are our neighbors, these are our friends. Food is the area that Im working in right now, and theres a huge need. The social safety net is broken, and its not as if were going to fix that all by ourselves. Weve got to recognize it and work at it, so its a challenge that we should take on.
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