The Oberlin Review

In UCC Report, Northeast Ohio Identified As “Hot Spot” of Environmental Injustice

Nathan Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

April 22, 2020

This past February, the United Church of Christ published a report on polluting facilities located in or near residential communities across the country. The report, titled “Breath to the People: Sacred Air and Toxic Pollution,” focused on 100 “super polluters” throughout the United States, and especially on the impact of those facilities on children under the age of five living in their vicinity. The report was primarily authored by Rev. Traci Blackmon, UCC associate general minister, and Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC minister of environmental justice. In assembling the report’s narrative, the authors chose to focus on three “hot spots” of toxic air emissions: the Houston metropolitan area, Louisiana’s Cancer Alle...

Jen Deerinwater

Off The Cuff: Jen Deerwater, Indigenous Activist and Journalist

November 8, 2019

Jen Deerinwater is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, bisexual, Two Spirit, multiply-disabled journalist, and organizer. Deerinwater writes on a variety of topics, including national politics, reproductive justice, ableism, resource extraction, and justice for indigenous communities. Deerinwater is a contributor at Truthout, a Freedomways and New Economies Reporting Project fellow, and the Founder and Executive Director of Crushing Colonialism, an international, Indigenous multi-media collec...

City Councilmembers discuss the NEXUS pipeline settlement prior to voting. Council voted unanimously against NEXUS, a shift from the previous vote of 4–3 in favor of the settlement last month.

Final Pipeline Vote Rejects NEXUS Settlement

March 9, 2018

Oberlin City Council voted unanimously to reject a proposed settlement with NEXUS Gas Transmission Monday night. The council was previously split on accepting a deal with NEXUS, voting 4–3 for the deal at the previous meeting on Feb. 20. The meeting contrasted with earlier hearings on the settlement. At the Feb. 20 meeting, students both picketed and directly addressed members of council, but on Monday those in attendance were silent and reserved. Students held signs and provided emotional te...

“The Tangled Lands” Explores Feminism, Environmental Justice

Julia Peterson, Arts & Culture Editor

March 2, 2018

The Tangled Lands, a new dystopian fantasy novel by award-winning authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell, has no right to be as good as it is. Conceptual, morally ambiguous, and incredibly timely, The Tangled Lands explores well-wrought narratives of feminism and environmental justice in a beautifully-crafted fantasy world that drips with rich lore and details at every turn. The Tangled Lands is the first collaboration between these authors, but it is a natural one, as both Bacigalupi and Buckell have been lauded for their fantasy or science-fiction exploration of social justice issues. Bacigalupi in particular has a history of exploring environmental justice in novels like The Water Knife, which is set in a dy...

Major Joe Womack of the Mobile Environmental Justice Action
Coalition leads Oberlin students on a tour of Africatown.

Students Help Africatown Fight for Environmental Justice

December 8, 2017

Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Comparative American Studies Janet Fiskio added a new facet to the Environmental Studies program when she led a group of students to historic Africatown in Alabama during the spring semester of 2015. This semester, Fiskio expanded this project by teaching Environmental Justice and Local Knowledge, a course dedicated to the environmental justice movement through community-based research with organizations in Africatown. Fiskio and Assistant Professor...

Environmentalists Must Rally Behind Clinton

Kelly McCarthy, Contributing Writer

October 7, 2016

No good thing comes without a cost. More than a century of rapid technological advancement has sent global temperatures skyrocketing at a rate 10 times faster than precedented by natural history. We’re also seeing increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, rising sea levels and pollution of our air, our water and our communities. We must mitigate the consequences of climate change and secure sustainable principles in development moving forward. This is no small task. The struggles we face demand a united front and a shared commitment to sustainability. If Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump becomes the next president of the United States, we will have neither. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is our onl...

Dakota Access Pipeline Protests Mirror Oberlin’s Anti-Pipeline Campaign

CJ Blair, Contributing Writer

September 16, 2016

The federal government’s request to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline was met by cheers from the thousands of Native people gathered in protest at Standing Rock last Friday. This order, however, coming on the heels of a ruling that dismissed the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s anti-pipeline injunction, was surely met with equal skepticism. The nearly two-year battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline is far from over. Yet the crisis at Standing Rock has placed the anti-pipeline movement on the national stage, and its direct action approach to environmental justice provides an invaluable template for similar campaigns across the country, including the pipeline project currently facing opposition in Oberlin. Wh...

MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

Off the Cuff: Brett Walker, Montana State University History Professor

September 9, 2016

Brett Walker is a Regents Professor of History at Montana State University with expertise in Japanese health and medicine and its environmental history. After graduating from the College of Idaho in 1989, Walker spent several years traveling and studying Japan before earning his doctorate in Japanese History from the University of Oregon. Walker has written books on a number of topics in Japan such as the indigenous Ainu people, the disappearance of Japanese wolves in the last century and the hi...

City Council Should Focus on Abolishing, Not Rerouting, NEXUS Pipeline

Editorial Board

December 4, 2015

In a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 30, City Council decided to hire the law offices of D.C.-based Carolyn Elefant to represent the city of Oberlin in a lawsuit aimed at rerouting the NEXUS pipeline. The proposed 250-mile pipeline, to be constructed and operated by Houston-based Spectra Energy, is slated to run from Ontario, Canada to Kensington, Ohio — a town just 76 miles southeast of Oberlin. Based on the intended route, the pipeline will run as close as 95 feet from residences on Reserve Avenue as well as near the Welcome Nursing Home and the fire station, among other city buildings. The Medina County-based Coalition to Reroute Nexus, along with the city officials of Green, Ohio, devised a rerouting plan that ...

Duo Delivers Imaginitive, Inclusive Multimedia Performance

Louise Edwards, Arts Editor

October 2, 2015

Spoken word artist Alixa Garcia beatboxed on pan flute while her audience at the Cat in the Cream clapped along enthusiastically last Friday night. Pan flute music is part of Garcia’s Colombian heritage, and she played upon notions of traditional rhythm by altering the way she blew into the pipes. Naima Penniman, who performs with Garcia is the other half of spoken word duo Climbing PoeTree, danced to Garcia’s music. The multimedia performance included spoken word poetry accompanied by music, photography and video in the background. Garcia and Penniman’s interdisciplinary work focuses on themes of social justice, and the duo seeks to inspire audience members to create change within the environments and systems...

Watergate Reveals Disparities in Urban, Rural Communities

Kiley Petersen, Opinions Editor

March 13, 2015

From the way students reacted to the water boil alert that went into effect early Sunday morning on March 8, you would think the apocalypse had begun. Playfully dubbed “Watergate 2k15,” the citywide lack of water affected students and residents alike until the boil alert was lifted Monday evening. In less than 48 hours, the city was back in operating mode, with College facilities like OSCA, Stevenson Hall and DeCafé returning to regularly functioning schedules very soon after. As I wandered around campus on Sunday and Monday, however, most students were complaining about the lack of clean water, only being allowed one plastic water bottle and unable to take a shower. The thirst was real, which is understandable,...

Social Movements Must Incorporate Environmental Justice

CJ Blair, Columnist

February 20, 2015

There’s no doubt that Oberlin is a place known for its conscientious and progressive students. While Oberlin’s sustainable Adam Joseph Lewis Center and a handful of environmental organizations demonstrate concern about environmental issues, day-to-day conversations between students tend to favor social, rather than environmental, justice. This is by no means a bad thing, but such conversations often fail to see the ways in which environmentalism is just as pressing a concern as social justice, as well as how the two are inextricably tied. If it sounds like I’m going to condemn the social justice initiatives on campus, let me assure you that I’m not. The way in which Oberlin responded to the horrendous incidents...

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