Both Oberlin College and the town of Oberlin are
known for their activist streak, and Monday night’s
Issues Fair, held at the First Church of Oberlin, did not
The many organizations present shared their thoughts
on gun control, AIDS awareness, poverty, education,
environmentalism, voter registration, justice, peace and
healthcare. The organizers came from all over Lorain
County and even further parts of Ohio.
“I just felt that it would be a good way to put [my
issue] out there in Oberlin,” explained Josh Thurston, the
Northeast Ohio Regional director of Ohioans for Healthy
Families. “Lorain County is a big county.”
The fair was a chance for many community members
to learn about issues that could affect their lives.
“It’s inspiring to see everyone having opinions on
things all over the place,” said City Council member
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Oberlin resident
Norman Craig. “I’m learning some things, but I’ve been
paying attention to these matters so it’s not as if I’m starting
Despite positive feedback, several people noted
that the hall was surprisingly empty, especially of college
“It would be great to see more students come and get
a wider sense of what’s going on in the community,” said
Reverend Mary Hammond of Peace Community Church.
The students who came to the fair were mostly there
to promote organizations that bridge the gap between the
college and the community.
“There are students from the SEED House who have
a table, and that’s just great,” said Hammond.
“We’re trying to get the word out to homeowners
so we can provide information about green renovation
projects that can be done in their own homes,” explained
Amanda Medress, a College junior who manned the
SEED House table for much of the evening. “We thought
this would be a good place to interface with people in
town since normally our exposure to them is limited.”
Also present were Lina Yamashita, a College senior
who has been active in organizing the Oberlin High
School garden and College senior Cecilia Galarraga, who
has worked in several organizations that link the College
and the community.
Whatever the number of attendees, most people
at the Issues Fair felt that it was worth having, largely
because it provided opportunities for dialogue about
issues prevalent in Oberlin and outside.
“These are all important issues,” explained Craig,
“so it’s important to have this type of awareness.”