John and Anne Elder

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

John and Anne Elder

Interview by: Anita Peebles

January 19, 2013

John and Anne Elder are residents of Kendal at Oberlin. John served as Pastor of the First Church in Oberlin UCC from 1973 to 1991. Anne was a Supervisor in the Lorain City Schools from 1973 to 1991. John enjoys papermaking, printmaking and watercolors. Anne is a Court Appointed Special Assistant to advocate for children in the court system.

Q: What words or images would you use to describe Oberlin?

Anne Elder: I was on the [Community Engagement Team for the Oberlin Project] and people were asked on a survey for a one word description of Oberlin. And my job this past week was to go over everybodys responses.

John Elder: The Kendal word tends to be something like stimulate.

Anne Elder: The largest one was home, which I was very intrigued by and then was welcoming, and then engaged.

Q: How did you come to live in Oberlin?

John Elder: My father taught in the college for two years before I was born. We come through Oberlin every summer on vacation and so I was imprinted with Oberlin. You say college? I say Oberlin.

Q: If you had to define sustainability for your own life, what would that be?

Anne Elder: It would mean using as much of the earths resources as I need, and not to excessmostly just not overusing the resources.

John Elder: It would be nice if we could even enhance the resources so future generations would have a better planet.

Q: Can you describe any actions that you, personally in your own home, or also in the wider Kendal community are taking, that relate to sustainability?

John Elder: We work hard in the environmental community to help people, to be as conscious and helpful as possible.

Anne Elder: We use our bicycles whenever we can, but thats mostly dependent on the weather. And we had our Martin Luther King project this week. We went over to the Boys and Girls Club on Pleasant Street. There was so much litter as the snow disappears. We asked, if we came over with garbage bags, if theyd like us to help pick up. And right away, they said, Sure! We went, and kicking and screaming, we got all the kids out, and they had a good time. Then they had to take care of the trash; we separated it so that everybody had a trash bag and a recycling bag, and the recycling we took back to Kendal because Kendal recycles.

John Elder: Kendal is just beginning the renovation of its original cottages, which will require the updating of the HDH systems, and the residents are pushing very hard to have geothermal over all of the cottages and I think we will accomplish it, but there is some reluctance in some places in the organization.

It goes back to making the planet safer and using less resources so that there will be things left for our grandchildren and their children.

People are still thinking its okay to drop things...How do you change that?

Q: How do you feel these actions are important?

Anne Elder: Well, again, it goes back to making the planet safer and using less of the resources so that there will be things left for our grandchildren and their children.

John Elder: And for the residents, the payback means lower costs; we have to watch our expenses.

Q: Is there anything youd like to tell your fellow community members regarding care for the environment or making sustainable living choices?

John Elder: When we visited Japan, if you dropped paper, youd get scolded. The ethos is so strong, and then you go to other countries where thats not part of the ethics at all.

Anne Elder: But I think that's because we have so much, excess of everything, everything comes in a bag or a plastic. When we went into the gym today, there were two big mail bags that someone had taken their mail out of and thrown them. But I wonder how long they would have stayed there. People are still thinking its okay to drop things; Im finished with this bottle toss it out. How do you change that?

Q: Are there things that you think that the country as a whole, or just the city of Oberlin, or just the Dashboard Project, could do to inspire more consciousness or inspire other people to take sustainable actions? How do we change the conversation from throwing things out to recycling and reusing?

Anne Elder: I meant to bring along that article about someone who had gone to the grocery store and gotten a paper bag and put her goods in and the clerk said we dont use paper anymore. When you were growing up, you didnt do green. And so the woman just said, yeah, I guess we didnt do green, but we always had glass milk bottles that were always recycled, we drove one car, we always put our clothes on the clothesline, but we didnt know about green. It was 1930s when we were growing up -- by todays standards, it would meet all of the sustainability goals. But we didnt have to plan that, and we werent saying we were being green. We did it because there wasnt an alternative. We just need to remember that, sometimes its the march of civilization thats done us in, and do we want to go back? Or do we just want to be much more thoughtful?

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