Block Party Brings Residents, Students Together

Robin Wasserman, News Editor

Kendal’s Precision Lawn Chair Drill Team marched into the barricaded East College Street gripping their chairs. The group’s taskmaster, Don Parker, barked orders through a megaphone.

“Heads left! Heads right!” he called out.

The team of Kendal at Oberlin residents, clad in brightly mismatched outfits and flamboyant hats — one with a plush white squirrel perched on top — followed orders with mock seriousness.

The drill team’s performance last Saturday, Sept. 29, was part of the Oberlin Community Block Party in Tappan Square, a collaborative effort between the city of Oberlin, the College, Kendal at Oberlin residents and community volunteers.

The Block Party also featured performances by OB Jump, Dance Diaspora, Oberlin College Taiko and Capoeira Angola. Arts organizations hosted arts and crafts tables, local authors read their work and restaurants handed out free food to a mix of students and residents.

A table hosted by the Allen Memorial Art Museum invited participants to create small individual squares of a painting, which were combined with squares made by other attendees to form reproductions of well-known paintings.

“We’re helping kids replicate different works of art in the museum,” said College senior Sarah Konowitz. “It’s amazing how well this is turning out.”

Members of the Office of Environmental Sustainability stood next to most groups of trash cans, instructing Block Party attendees where to throw their waste.

“This is a big educational opportunity because people don’t always look at materials to see if they’re compostable,” said environmental sustainability fellow Bridget Flynn.

Students for Environmental Sustainability sold and raffled off restored bikes. College senior and project organizer David Roswell said that the program was designed to be a smaller version of the Lorain County Bike Festival, which they helped put together the year before.

“We really wanted to do it again, but it’s really hard to make that happen,” Roswell said, citing the extensive time and planning that the event took. “So we put the two events together into one.”

Students for Environmental Sustainability and the Lorain Wheelmen spent September fixing bicycles that the Oberlin Police Department and Safety and Security had impounded.

“I think it went really well,” said Roswell. “We gave away all 47 bikes and raised a bit of money so we can do it again.”