Oberlin Blogs

NYT asks:

May 26, 2008

Max Strasser ’09

I heard about it from my best friend's dad. I'm staying at his house outside of Boston and the first thing I heard yesterday morning when I walked downstairs for a cup of coffee was, "Hey Max, your school is on the front page of the New York Times."

After a few confused minutes of searching through a pile of newspapers I found A1 and there it was, below the fold. Dateline: Oberlin, Ohio.

The story is about the SEED house, an experiment in sustainability and cooperative living. You can read the Times story here or the blurb on the Oberlin website here.

It's cool to see my college on the front page of one of the most important newspapers in the country. And it's fun to see people I casually recognize from campus referred to as "Ms. Bob-Waksberg" or "Mr. Brown" in the Times. And I think that the SEED House is a great project. Furthermore, I'm glad to see Oberlin being appreciated for its impressive commitment to combatting climate change. (Check out Alice's cool post on this topic here.) But I felt like the story was a little weak.

Call me audacious, but I think that Sara Rimer (the reporter) could have done a much better job reporting this story. The SEED House is excellent, but it's only one of the many, many projects in sustainability at Oberlin. What about the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, which is a national innovation in sustainable design? What about OSCA, which makes huge efforts to make sustainable purchases and has for years? What about the car sharing program or the bike coop or the farm up the road that provides vegetables to the dining hall?

The SEED house is a good story, but what is most interesting about it it is the way that it represents larger trends in sustainable living at Oberlin and in other colleges across the country. To focus on SEED House while ignoring the other projects that are going on at Oberlin is to pick the easiest, cutest, most conveniently packaged facet of the sustainability movement. That just seems a little simplistic to me.

Nonetheless, it's good to see Oberlin being recognized for one of its many excellent environmental projects. But criticizing mainstream media is a staple of the blogosphere. If I don't voice my frustration with the Times' coverage, I would be doing be doing a disservice to myself as a blogger and a fearless Oberlin student.

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