Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Interview by:Rachel Rossello
Mrs. Janet Haar, the Director of the Oberlin Business Partnership (OBP), likes to call her business a three-legged stool." The OBP combines the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Organization, and Visitors Bureau all into one. Economic and environmental sustainability play a key role in not only her professional life, but in her personal life as well.
Q: Could you briefly describe the nature of your business and its role in the Oberlin community?
A: The Oberlin Business Partnership is an organization that combines a Chamber of Commerce and a Main Street Organization. Main Street Organizations have traditionally been the historic preservation groups in town. Chamber of Commerce is more helping people get to know one another in the city, helping present their businesses to their fellow businessmen as well as to the residents in the city. It's helping them do some advertising, some marketing, and helping to run their business. Were also as I like to say a three-legged stool. The other leg of that stool is that were the Visitors Bureau for the Oberlin area because we dont really have one. The city gives us bed tax money, which is the money that people pay in taxes to stay at the Oberlin Inn. They give us that money and say, With this money, promote Oberlin." So we market and promote Oberlin in every way that we can.
Q: Is there anything you would like to tell your fellow community members regarding care for the environment/sustainable living/respect for nature?
A: I think one of the things I would like to tell them, and I say this about a lot of things, is that I believe in having an abundance mentality, which is theres enough to go around for everyone, but sharing it and using it responsibly is how we continue to have enough to go around for everyone. When you look at things from a scarcity mentality, youre saying, Theres not enough to go around so I better do [this] right now. When you look at it from an abundance mentality youre saying, Wow, theres enough to go around, so how can we work together to make sure that everybody gets a piece of it?
Id like for [my grandchildren] to leave the world better than they found it.
Q: What inspires you to take these actions?
A: I would like to think that my generation is leaving the world better than we found it, and I know thats not true. The reason I do this, and try to educate and work with my grandchildrenespecially on this, is because Id like for them to leave the world better than they found it.
Q: Have you had any interaction with the Environmental Digital signs in the Public Library, the AJLC, or Prospect Elementary school, and if so, what do you think about them?
A: The one in the library Im most familiar with, and I think thats great for people. Ive seen people stand there and look at it. Ive been to several of the explanations of what it is, so Im really interested in it. I alsohave a granddaughter whos at Prospect School, and she loves it. She talks about it a lot.
The fact that its a college town and many people have chosen to retire here speaks volumes.
Q: What words or images would you use to describe Oberlin?
A: Norman Rockwell. Its a small town with a lot of the amenities of the larger met areas. The fact that its a college town and many people have chosen to retire here speaks volumes.
Q: What does sustainability mean to you?
A: In my business life, in this position, it means more of an economic sustainability because we represent the town of Oberlin, which includes the small businesses. Their ability to sustain themselves is interconnected with environmental sustainability, and were trying to help them see that. I just worked with a group of students on a project helping us to create some criteria that we could use when we talk to the businesses so they could understand how they could become more environmentally sustainable, which would help them become more economically sustainable. Education services connecting people that are associated more with the environmental part to the people who are associated with the economic part is one of our roles.
Q: How would you answer that question personally?
A: Well, I have a granddaughter who monitors everything we do shes a nine-year-old who comes into our house and she checks our thermostat and she checks the light bulbs to make sure we have the right light bulbs. Water conservation is just something we do automatically. Personally, we also have rental units, so we put together a whole education for our tenants on water usage and electricity and heat. They like to keep their heat at 80 degrees and we say No, put on layers.
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