Oberlin Blogs

50 Things and Counting that Make Oberlin the Best

July 22, 2010

Marsha Lynn Bragg

The city of Cleveland recently lost its star professional basketball player to the Miami Heat. LeBron James decided to pursue his desire for a national championship with another team and other players who he believes are more committed and capable of winning it all.

As a result of his very public departure and subsequent fan fallout, the local Cleveland paper decided to help angry and disgruntled fans by publishing an opinion piece, "100 things that make Cleveland the best," as if to suggest that without LeBron James, Cleveland is nothing. Or better yet, Cleveland has a lot to offer unless you are an incredibly talented 25-year-old professional basketball player.

I can't get with that mentality and it has nothing to do with the fact that I am not a sports fanatic... er, fan. I admire athletes and the commitment they make to being at their physical best, and I marvel seeing them in action--on the tennis court, in the swimming pool, on the soccer field, on the baseball diamond. But these athletes have no influence on my day-to-day life. I have never owned a poster, mug, or any article of clothing bearing the name of a sports figure or sports team.

In Proverbs 23:7, it states "... as a man [or woman] thinketh in his heart so is he [or she]." In simple terms, if you think you are a _________ (you fill in the blank), you are. We are our own inspiration. We make our own happiness. It is not the external that determines our worth. While external factors may influence us, ultimately we decide the kind of person we want to be.

That said and in the spirit of that article, I decided to create my own list of 100 things that make Oberlin the best. Let me preface this by saying that, due to my short tenure here, I made it to 50. That's where you come in. Add your own "best thing about Oberlin." Perhaps I'll learn something in the process.

This list is in no particular order. And like the article that I reference, it's just a quick list of places and things to enjoy in Oberlin.

described in caption
#7. Bench by the Road


described in caption
#50. All-campus photo
  1. Apollo Theatre: $5 admission. First-run movies. Single screen. Need I say more?

  2. Quick and Delicious: Just like the sign says.

  3. Peters Observatory: See the stars, the moon... but only on clear nights.

  4. Fairchild Chapel: Perfect peace.

  5. Ben Franklin 5 & 10: 99 cent cards, 50 cent chocolate, local merchant items.

  6. Mindfair Books: Something old, something new, something rare and eclectic, too.

  7. Bench by the Road: Novelist Toni Morrison's gift to Oberlin, a metal bench by the road surrounded by flowers and other greenery. An ideal spot for reflection, reading, day-dreaming.

  8. Oberlin Dialogue Center: Confidential, respectful place to talk about difficult matters.

  9. Tappan Square: A tranquil, safe, green, open park in the middle of town? Oh, yeah.

  10. Oberlin Public Library: Big resources for a small community.

  11. The Feve: The one place where patrons believe tater tots are health food.

  12. Azariah's Café: Where books, computers, and java create a happy alliance.

  13. Bike Trails

  14. No parking meters

  15. The Rathskeller: Good food and a great place for all campus members to interact while breaking bread.

  16. The Big Parade: Annual town and gown gathering featuring music, dancing, costumes, bikes, art cars, floats, and more.

  17. Route 58: aka Main Street. It's the road that cuts through Oberlin and can lead to either larger, busy communities to the north, or small, farm-like areas to the south. Either way is picturesque, well traveled, and green.

  18. Finney Chapel: The old grandiose building with great acoustics and not a bad view in the house (though I'd prefer a little padding in the pews).

  19. Oberlin students: Individualistic, committed, creative.

  20. The Living Machine: Fascinating wastewater technology. Watch the digital screen for details.

  21. The Green Arts District: A truly innovative combination of business and residential space currently under development.

  22. Science Center lobby: Great space for small-scale photography, sculpture, and other art exhibits.

  23. Art Rental: $5 remains the cost to rent an authentic piece of art from the Allen Memorial Art Museum to adorn your walls.

  24. Kohl Building: Jazz music here will never be the same.

  25. Illumination: A truly elegant way to celebrate commencement.

  26. The Arboretum: Secluded wooded park great for a leisurely walk, a hike, or just to appreciate nature.

  27. Experimental College: Learn or teach a class on just about any subject or interest.

  28. Ball chairs: Mudd Center's colored orb-shaped chairs designed by Eero Aarnio have the power to envelope you and lull you to sleep. Also called "womb chairs" for obvious reasons.

  29. Philips Gym: More than a standard gym, it's a complete fitness center that makes even the worst slug want to get into shape.

  30. Allen Memorial Art Museum: First-class art museum right on campus, offers tours, date nights, educational programs, and more.

  31. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music: Learn-practice-play-perform. It's how classical music is supposed to be.

  32. The Theater and Dance programs: Where many an original and cutting-edge stage performance takes place.

  33. The Oberlin Jazz Ensemble: Don't believe students are capable of producing passionate sound? This group will make your jaw drop, your feet tap, and your fingers snap.

  34. The swing in Tappan Square: Serene.

  35. Robert Kahn Track and Fred Shults Field: Wonderful running (or jogging) surface for the novice and college professional alike.

  36. The College Archives in Mudd: A treasure chest of Oberlin history.

  37. Midnight organ pump: Lying on the stage in Finney Chapel and feeling the vibrations of the Kay Africa organ is simply amazing.

  38. Presti's: One word: lasagna.

  39. Oberlin Day of Service: One will never get used to seeing the massive number of first-year students, willing to give of their time to help others.

  40. The Convocation Speaker Series: From Yoko Ono to Cynthia Hogan.

  41. Bead Paradise: An affordable haven for creative types with beads of all shapes, sizes, colors, textures, ethnicity (yes, they sell exotic beads).

  42. College Lanes: A timeless recreational sport that's still affordable and right on campus.

  43. Gibson's: A chocolate lover's delight by the piece or by the pound.

  44. Chalk Walk: Express yourself legally and colorfully on area sidewalks in this annual celebration of the arts.

  45. Weltzheimer/Johnson House: You have to see it to believe it.

  46. Black River Cafe: Forget Denny's. Grab a delicious made-to-order breakfast any time of day.

  47. Wilder Bowl: Open green space with the right amount of shade trees and benches that don't interfere with whatever might be happening. Frisbee? Dancing? Sleeping? Tanning? Strolling guitarists? Bagpipes? Making out? There's room for it all.

  48. Kulas Recital Hall: Should be re-named Cool-est Recital Hall. The just-the-right- space accommodates a wide range of musical performances, and makes you feel like more than a spectator.

  49. Porches: Every home should have one and Oberlin has more than its share.

  50. All-campus photo: This annual event brings students, faculty, and staff members, as well as some community folk, into Wilder Bowl. The impact is magnificent. See you on September 10. Be sure to buy a poster.



Responses to this Entry

51. Student publications! The Oberlin Review is Oberlin's paper of record; then there's Spiral, Drivel, Fearless and Loathing, Spiral, The Raisin, The Grape... Spiral... The Review . . . Spiral . . . .

Posted by: Tess on July 23, 2010 5:53 PM

52. The Cat in the Cream: Huge cheap delicious cookies and drinks, performances ranging from jazz to folk to improv to musicals.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on July 23, 2010 10:29 PM

53. Despite its being such a small town, there's so much going on that you never need to go to Cleveland.

Posted by: Emily on July 24, 2010 12:12 PM

54. Oberlin College Press: Puts Oberlin on the map in the world of contemporary poetry. http://www.oberlin.edu/ocpress

55. The Oberlin-in-London Program: Oberlin-quality classes in the center of one of the world's most exciting cities. http://blogs.oberlin.edu/learning/study_abroad/oberlin_in_lond.shtml

Posted by: David on July 24, 2010 1:29 PM

Black River Cafe (again) - did you know it's open for dinner? The best scallops I've ever had.

Posted by: Sheila Harley on July 25, 2010 12:56 PM

Whole wheat donuts from Gibson's. When I was a student back in the Dark Ages (class of '76), you weren't officially considered an Obie until you'd had your first one.

Posted by: Steven Taub on July 26, 2010 1:40 AM

58. Beethoven's Bagels. In an out-of-the-way corner of downtown, the best bagels outside of NYC. Who knew?

Posted by: John on July 27, 2010 9:04 AM

I'll add another: #59. Lovely granite sculpture near Wilder that honors the inspiration and namesake of our great college, Pastor Oberlin of Alsace, France. The idea (and Pastor Oberlin's thought)is that an object (or issue) can be seen differently depending on one's perspective/angle (literally or figuratively). This piece of art is elegant both in its form and its symbolism.

Reading this list late at night makes me yearn to return to campus just for the sake of partaking in some of the opportunities, attending some of the events, and seeing some of the objects that I either missed while I was an undergraduate student or that have been added since my graduation from Oberlin.

Posted by: Susan Bernat on August 1, 2010 10:53 PM

60. The bandstand on Tappan- bands, dancers, loungers, music classes, rallies, speeches...you can find it all there.

70. The language lab- filled with chirping birds! Also fish! Also many languages and children's books and skype dates!

71. Food. Almost everyone you meet cares about food, and so there are tons of farmers' markets, cookouts, very informal to very formal dinners, restaurants, and baked goods.

Posted by: Brandi on August 3, 2010 11:58 AM

72. Co-ops -- they'd better still be there!

Posted by: Lara on August 3, 2010 4:43 PM

73. WOBC -- The only radio station that I could call regularly, get through and put in a request.

Posted by: Bill B on August 4, 2010 3:50 AM

74. The Underground Railroad sculpture/memorial. In 1977 Cameron Armstrong mounted this elegantly simple homage to the people who passed through Oberlin in their flight to freedom - & to those who helped them on the way - as a senior project. It's simple, elegant, eloquent in its silent witness.

Posted by: Karen Dennis on August 4, 2010 8:22 PM

Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post

Posted by: videos divertidos on October 31, 2010 1:10 AM

75. Student initiated theatre, music, dance, performance of every kind, whether as part of a student organization or not.

76. The Alumni Association, which thinks of every Obie, past and present, as family, and is one of the best ways to stay involved - in active, tangible ways - with the life of the institution. Volunteer. You won't be sorry.

77. Alumni reunions - Go! If you haven't, trust me, you're missing out on some of the best fun you'll ever have after Oberlin.

78. Music, music, music, everywhere and all the time - something I didn't fully realize was sorely lacking in the rest of the world until I went back to teach at Oberlin for a couple of years.

There's more, but I don't wanna hog the comments board!

Posted by: Anonymous on April 12, 2011 10:18 PM

79. Painted rocks in Tappan square.

Posted by: Nick on March 15, 2018 12:49 PM

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