Lisa Kavanaugh

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Lisa Kavanaugh

Interview by:Enzo Cabili

Lisa Kavanagh is a retired Oberlin resident with a rare mitochondrial disorder caused by Lyme disease. She is passionate about influencing change towards a sustainable future. Although she only has a few hours of energy a day, she is very active through online forums, writing letters, and making environmentally conscious consumer choices. More than anything, she makes sure she starts with herself, nurturing a holistic philosophy with the natural environment.

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

A: Oberlin is like a microcosm of people, a collection of people with so many different backgrounds, coming together in a peaceful way. I think that we are people who are progressive, who want a better world and want to live in a better place. From a social perspective, the environmental perspective, and the humanitarian perspective, Oberlin works toward the betterment of society.

Q: Some people use the word sustainability to mean actions that enhance or maintain the economic, environmental, and social welfare of the Oberlin community. What does sustainability mean in your life?

A: The same. It's a labor of love to maintain sustainability in every aspect of life. It's a balance when you have a group of people working towards that in all aspects of their life, because we are little environments ourselves. On the cellular level, whats going on in here depends on whats going on out there in the world. Maintaining homeostasis is a constant effort.

Q: What actions are you engaged in that relate to sustainability?

A: Im an activist from my computer. As far as conservation, the products that I use at home are either things that Ive made or things that dont disturb the environment. Nothing artificial goes into my body. I make my own shampoo. Cleaning solutions: vinegar and water. Thats all you need, you dont need all the sprays and stuff like that. I like to think that whatever I put down my drain, I might be drinking some day, because if you look at it from that point of view, you really have to hold yourself accountable for how you use your water. I kind of wish that was the way it was, we were all given a supply of water and it was only up to us to maintain. Some people would just destroy it, just like they do their bodies. Other people would take really good care of it. I have a rare disorder, in my mitochondria. The mitochondria are the powerhouse of every cell, so that means its where all your energy is produced. Conserving energy is really personal to me; I have this much a day and I have to use it in a right away, or everything begins to slow down: my heart, other organs.

If you look at what we have here in terms of energy, we only have so much. Use it to the best of your ability, think about it everyday, and I try to do that in the way I live. [In terms of food,] when you think about the stress that eating something with pesticides has on your body, that stress depletes you of energy.

The disconnection is with our mother, Earth. If we disconnect from her we all lose out.

Q: Are you a big advocate for organic foods?

A: Absolutely. Our soil is living, its alive, and its a life. If we kill it, its our fault. Were supposed to be stewards, its our job. You know our practices havent done service to the soil at all. My sister and her husband in Pennsylvania are organic farmers, so Ive seen how it can be done, how it can be done cheaply. It's a pretty amazing process. Ive learned a lot from them, from what it means to conserve. They intern organic farmers, and take them to farmers markets. When you see it working, you know its possible. It looks so overwhelming from the outside, but its so doable. I have three concerns for our planet and I think theyre doable. One is cleaning our air; weve got to know the truth about what goes in our air. Second, we need pure water. Why are we putting fluoride in our water? It is poison. Third is growing healthy food. These are the topics I advocate for online. I sign petitions and write letters to senators and congressman. Even if I have no energy to get out and do [something], I can sit in my bed and do this, and spend little energy, and feel like Ive accomplished something.

It's a labor of love to maintain sustainability in every aspect of life.

Q: Any advice for your fellow community members regarding care for the environment/sustainable living and respect for nature?

A: Start with yourself, start with your own world, in your own body. Increase awareness of what goes on with your body, how you keep yourself. What youre giving yourself will eventually trickle out to everything around you, and you will begin to have more respect for the environment. Start from the inside and move out. I think theres a disconnect, and its not a healthy disconnect, because if you look where it leads, thats where the troubles start. The disconnection is with our mother, Earth. If we disconnect from her we all lose out.

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