The Oberlin Project and Extended Housing Wellness Center in Painesville

We went to the City Club on Friday for a very good program titled “The Oberlin Project: How One City is Eliminating Carbon, Restoring the Local Food Economy, and Figuring Out How to be Truly Sustainable” with Professor David W. Orr as the featured speaker. Dr. Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Special Assistant to the President of Oberlin College.
The Oberlin Project was formed out of Professor Orr’s vision and is a joint effort of the City of Oberlin, Oberlin College, and other partners to improve the resilience, prosperity, and sustainability of the Oberlin Community. Its aim is to revitalize the local economy, eliminate carbon emissions and restore local agriculture, food supply, forestry, and create a new sustainable base for economic and community development.

Professor Orr said very emphatically that society as a whole will have to start moving in this direction due to the fact that our natural resources have been so badly depleted. Consequently, we have no other choice.

This powerful program was sponsored by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and we got to to speak with Rachel Webb who was tabling at this event in order to provide information about the Slavic Village Stormwater Project. Among the other environmentally conscious people that we got to visit with were Lorry Wagner of LEEDco (Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation), Scott Sanders of the Earth Day Coalition, and Stephanie Spears of Ecowatch. We know that environmentally conscious organizations such as these often work with people in other countries and we let them know that we are available to to assist them on immigration matters such as obtaining visas.

One of the projects at Oberlin that Professor Orr talked about was the the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College which was one of the first green buildings on college campus and is credited with helping to launch the green building movement of the 1990’s. We felt so inspired after listening to Professor Orr that we might drive out and take a look at it in the near future.

The City Club of Great Cleveland recently conducted the Hope of and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Contest. This year’s theme was “What the Freedom of Speech of the U.S. Constitution Means to Me” and high school-ers, from Cuyahoga and surrounding counties, in their junior and season years were encouraged to take part. We got an extra treat today because the top three winners got to read their essays to the us. We particularly like the essay that concluded with, “speech is free but there are consequences. It is one of the most expensive items that we have and we have to use it wisely.”

Later on Friday we drove to Painesville for the Open House and Ribbon Cutting for the Extended Housing Wellness Center which provides services for the mentally ill. The turnout for this event was impressive with Lake County Commissioner Dan Troy, Ohio State Senator John Eklund, and a representative from U.S. Congressman David Joyce’s office all in attendance.

During his short speech at the ribbon cutting, Senator Eklund said that he expressed his warm congratulations to those at the center who do what they do every single day addressing things and issues in our community that most people don’t want to think about. Kim Fraser, Executive Director of the Lake County ADAMHS Board was thrilled that this project had come together and this center was created. We also got to talk to Reverend Stephen Vellenga of the St. Mary Catholic Church worked with Margaret W. Wong and Associates on an immigration matter regarding fear of deportations and Matthew R. Kissling of Thompson Hine Attorneys at Law who went to law school with Ms. Wong’s son Steven.

The one who got the last word in though was a Robert Barbian, a local photographer who just so happened to be the 2nd tenant in this very building back in 1962 which was 51 years ago. Mr. Barbian said simply said that he loves the way the building looks now.