Ayana Morrison

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ayana Morrison

Interview by: Becca Orleans and Emily Clarke

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.

Q: How did you come to live in Oberlin or go to school here?

A: I was simply just born here; Ive been here my entire life. Oberlin is a really good place to grow up. Because it helps a lot with figuring out who you are. And I think that its really good for growing up or being adolescent because its such an open-minded place that youre not really shamed for the things that you love. And that can be really really big as far as identity goes -- how you identify gender-wise; its pretty open here about sexuality. Im really grateful of having been in Oberlin schools because its a good school system and it has a nice small amount of people so you can have really good friendships and good relationships between your teachers.

We are all so small. And thats not to say that being small doesnt mean you dont have an impact. Its quite the opposite: because we are so small its all the more important for us to be unified and united.

Q: What is it like growing up where you can see the stars all the time?

A: One of the rooftops downtown you can go up the stairs and you just look up and its nothing but stars. Its one of my favorite places and I hang out there a lot with my friends. And its always funny because were like [this is] exactly like a scene out of a young adult novel. I would think that thats what kind of started my introspection, because Im one of those people where I like to just sit around and just think deep thoughts. It gives me that feeling of theres no possible way that were the only ones here. Something else I get from that vastness is that sense of I am so small. We are all so small. And thats not to say that being small doesnt mean you dont have an impact. I think its quite the opposite: because we are so small its all the more important for us to be unified and united.

Q: What does sustainability mean to you?

A: When I think of sustainability I think how it does affect all of us. Sustainability has to do with the environment, it has to do with the economy, but it also has to do a lot with relationships and looking out for each other. And not just sustaining your community for now but sustaining future generations. Thats one of the areas of politics that I get really heated about; thats one of the reasons

why I dont like this huge diversity gap in our politics and in so many aspects of life. Its really hard to know exactly what other people need when you dont fit into that demographic. Its so important to make sure that the people here are okay because theyre the ones living and struggling right now, but you also want to think about what kind of life are you gonna leave behind for your great great grandchildren.

Sustainability has to do with the environment, the economy, but also relationships and looking out for each other.

Q: What would sustainable politics look like to you?

A: Well thats really funny because I think those two words should never go together. Because sustain is to keep something the same, or balanced, or working. But politics is something that has to always be changing because theres always going to be different needs and different wants. Again, I feel very strongly about diversity. I think diversity is one of the key factors in fixing [politics]. I think it would really help if there were more perspectives to look at it from than just the older white male because the older white male isnt going to know exactly what Im going to need as I am a younger black female. And so having more diversity in politics would really help. Because then youll know exactly what more of POC people need.

Q: So what actions are you engaged in in your day-to-day that are related to sustainability?

A: With sustainability, getting the word out is one of the biggest things I can do because that way its not just me who is doing all those little things, but a community who is doing all those little things. The purpose of life is to make sure that life can continue, whatever its greater meaning may be. Think about how you can make other people happy, or about how you can help your community or help your future generations. And in return thats going to end up helping you.

Q: What inspires you to take those daily actions that we talked about?

A: What inspires me is thinking about other people. But in particular, one of my biggest inspirations is my grandfather, hes always just been a good guy. Hes always been very conscious of helping the planet. From a really young age, at least for the environmental factor, I got this big concept of what sustainability is and why its important. He was always the one who was kind of telling me, Hey dont just focus on yourself, there are other people to think about too.

Q: What would you like to share with your community about caring for the environment?

A: Always always focus on the bigger picture. Never get into this mindset that Ive done my part, or that Ive done all that I needed to do. Because theres always so much more to be done.

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