Blogs from Sharon Pearson Mon, 02 Jan 2017 19:35:48 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Oberlin Receives Bicycle Award BFC BronzeOn Tuesday, June 9, 2015, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Oberlin, Ohio with a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFCSM) award, joining 350 visionary communities from across the country. With the announcement of 42 new and renewing BFCs today, Oberlin, Ohio joins a leading group of communities, in all 50 states, that are transforming our neighborhoods.

“We applaud this new round of communities for investing in a more sustainable future for the country and a healthier future for their residents and beyond,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “The growing number of leaders taking up bicycling as a way of solving many complex community problems is encouraging. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as we move closer to our mission of creating a bicycle-friendly America for everyone.”
The BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. With this impressive round, there are now 350
BFCs in all 50 states. The bronze level BFC award recognizes Oberlin’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.Over the past few years the Oberlin Community has made significant improvements for cyclists.  Oberlin College received bronze level for the University category in the fall of 2013. This spring Oberlin City Council passed the first Complete Streets policy in Lorain County.  In addition, there have been improvements in the downtown area for designated bicycle parking that increases safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.  Continued efforts are planned to assist Oberlin's move from bronze to silver level designation in the future.The BFC program provides a roadmap to building a Bicycle Friendly Community and the application itself has become a rigorous and an educational tool in itself. Since its inception, more than 800 distinct communities have applied and the five levels of the award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze – provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve.To apply or learn more about the BFC program, visit
About the Bicycle Friendly AmericaSM ProgramThe Bicycle Friendly CommunitySM, Bicycle Friendly StateSM, Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly UniversitySM programs are generously supported by program partner Trek Bicycle Corp. To learn more about building a Bicycle Friendly America, visit
The League of American Bicyclists is leading the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. As leaders, our commitment is to listen and learn, define standards and share best practices to engage diverse communities and build a powerful, unified voice for change.

]]> (Sharon Pearson) Energy Matters Thu, 11 Jun 2015 18:44:24 +0000
A New Years Resolution Idea - The Oberlin Pledge ID-100299611

Each January is a new start for many people.  If offers a proactive person the opportunity to start again. Regardless of whether a person believes in New Year’s Resolutions, making commitments at the start of a new year can teach a person how to make, set, and work toward achieving goals. 

2014, was a banner year for Oberlin. According to the Climate Action Plan annual update by the City of Oberlin, the community is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by the end of 2015, compared to a 2012 baseline. As a result of these efforts, The White House and US Department of Energy named Oberlin one of 16 inaugural “Climate Action Champions” in the nation.

David Orr, Visionary/Founder of The Oberlin Project, summarizes Oberlin’s 2014 achievements as follows:

  • White House selection of Oberlin as one of sixteen U.S. cities designated “Climate Action Champions." Building on our previous selection as one of the Clinton Climate Initiative projects (now part of the C40 network) we pulled together the City, Oberlin Municipal Power and Light, and the College to craft a bold, but practical way to become climate neutral. We've eliminated 87% of the CO2 emissions from the municipal power system and halved the community's greenhouse gas emissions in three years.
  • Construction is well under way on the Peter B. Lewis Gateway building. It will be a LEED Platinum, entirely solar powered hotel and conference center, including offices, a culinary school, and businesses. The building will feature a number of firsts, including a geothermal system that uses no climate damaging refrigerants. Completion is scheduled for early 2016.
  • The Peter B. Lewis Gateway building will also feature a Maya Lin installation focused on climate and landscape, the final part of her “Ohio Trilogy."
  • We will complete a passive solar, high-performance, and affordable home in the Southeast Quadrant of the City by mid-March of 2015.
  • Planning for a 50-unit climate positive and affordable development on 14 acres is moving toward a 2015 groundbreaking.
  • We’ve installed Environmental Dashboards in all of Oberlin’s public schools and other sites throughout the City and conducted teacher workshops on systems thinking skills using Dashboard technology.
  • Oberlin is home to both Ohio's first Zero Waste Plan and its first hybrid hydraulic recycling fleet.
  • The next Climate Action Plan milestone is a 75% reduction of our 2012 greenhouse gas emissions by  2030.  That seems a long way off but the closer we get to our goal the more of a challenge it will be to reduce carbon emissions.  Achieving this goal will require the assistance of all who live, work, play, and learn in Oberlin. 

You may be asking yourself, “what can I do?” or “how can I help Oberlin become the first positive climate community in the United States?” The answer is easy - take the Oberlin Climate Action Pledge!

This pledge includes steps each Oberlin resident can take to help achieve the City’s Climate Action Plan. So how does it work?  Visit this link to review the list of commitments.  Then look at the links associated with each of the items and pick one or more that you will commit to accomplishing in 2015.  Each person, if chosen to be made public, will be listed on our website as an Oberlin Climate Action Champion.  Your public commitment will inspire and motivate others in the community. Also, when you make goals public you are more likely to achieve your commitments.  What a great feeling it is to know that your 2015 pledge supports our community’s goals as well as encourages others to follow your lead. 

To access the pledge and begin making your commitment to a positive climate Oberlin community please click here!

]]> (Sharon Pearson) Community Voices Fri, 16 Jan 2015 15:55:45 +0000
Oberlin among elite communities across the nation leading the way on energy efficiency GUEP Semifinalst MapOberlin, Ohio – January 14, 2015 – Today, Oberlin officially advances to the Semifinal round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national competition that is challenging communities across the U.S. to rethink their energy use. At a press event in Washington, D.C. today, Oberlin was announced as one of the 50 communities who are leading the way on energy efficiency.

“Oberlin has made a commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions below zero by the year 2050 and energy efficiency is a huge part of that equation. Right now, the average Oberlin home is losing an estimated $450-500 per year in missed energy savings at today’s energy prices. We have access to efficiency programs that will, in most cases, nearly triple a homeowner’s investment. Some income-qualified programs pay for all the work. Collectively, over the course of the two-year competition, the status quo in Oberlin will lose us nearly $8 million. So while winning the $5 million prize purse will help these efforts, we have an opportunity to “win” a far greater amount of money in the process. And those savings will continue after the competition ends.” – Sean Hayes, The Oberlin Project

“Oberlin, as well as mayors and executives across the county, have told us that this Prize gives them the momentum to accelerate their energy efficiency efforts,” said Dr. Francis Slakey, Founder and Executive Director of the Georgetown University Energy Prize. Slakey continued, “these Semifinalist communities are leading the way for other small- and medium-size cities and counties to secure their energy efficient future.”

"Our experience with POWER was very positive, from start to finish! The process was very easy to navigate and there were minimal out-of-pocket costs. We are grateful our home is now more energy efficient and are already seeing some of the benefits in our monthly energy bills."  - Melissa Thompson, Oberlin Resident

Oberlin joins 1 other community from Ohio [Athens, Ohio] in this friendly competition to improve energy efficiency for all.

“The competition looks truly like America,” said Dr. Slakey, “not only do these communities come from across the map, they come form across the political spectrum, represent all socioeconomic strata, and include demographically diverse populations.  Some are paying the highest prices for energy, some have the ambition to be carbon net-zero, but all communities share the goal of transforming America's energy future.”

To learn more about the Georgetown University Energy Prize and to track the competition’s progress, visit, or follow the Prize on Twitter (@GUEnergyPrize) or Facebook (

For more information about Oberlin’s efforts and ways you can get involved, please visit or contact Sharon Pearson, Program Coordinator of the Oberlin Project at 440-775-6473.

About Oberlin

Oberlin, Ohio, population 8,286, not far from the shore of Lake Erie and a half-hour from Cleveland, has it all - the quiet air of a small town combined with the art, music, culture and history of a big city. Often called the "most cosmopolitan small town in America" and “the town that started the Civil War,” the community was founded in 1833 - at the same time as Oberlin College, one of the nation's leading liberal arts colleges. As an institution of higher learning, the College was a pioneer in the joint education of the sexes, being the first to accept women and students of color as a matter of policy.

The community has played a key role in many of the major reform movements-from abolition and the Underground Railroad to temperance, woman suffrage and civil rights. In 1961, Oberlin was the first city in the State of Ohio to pass a fair housing law and third in the nation behind Pittsburgh and New

York City. Quality of life issues such as housing, equal opportunity, the environment,

and historic preservation all have strong advocates and are as prevalent today as in the past.

Oberlin citizens represent many cultures and interests, and its strength and appeal lie in this richness of diversity. Even though the average median income is $47,334, nearly 24% of the population is at or below the poverty level and about 45% of school children are on the free or reduced lunch program. Oberlin boasts a vibrant downtown shopping district, tree-lined streets, unique and popular restaurants, and is active in preserving its history.                                                                         

About Georgetown University Energy Prize

The $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize challenges small- to medium-size towns, cities, and counties to rethink their energy use, and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency. To compete for the Prize, local governments, residents, utilities, and others will need to work together to demonstrate success in sustainably reducing energy consumption over a two-year period. For more information, visit">

]]> (Sharon Pearson) Energy Matters Thu, 15 Jan 2015 14:24:57 +0000
2013 Green Energy Ohio Oberlin Guided Tour Over 200 Open Houses at Over 100 Tour Sites, 7 Guided Tours Across Ohio will showcase clean energy and green design in events throughout local areas. Oberlin is offering a guided tour on Saturday, October 5 from 10 am – 3 pm. The public is invited to take the FREE “Green Energy Ohio Tour” and network with friends and neighbors using renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green design. 

For the last 11 years, the educational non-profit organization Green Energy Ohio (GEO) has sponsored the tour on the first weekend in October tour to showcase the industry across the state. A few years ago GEO changed the "Ohio Solar Tour" name to the"Green Energy Ohio Tour" to more accurately describe the tour that features not only solar, but tour sites with wind, energy efficiency, biomass and other green energy technologies.  

The Oberlin guided tour commences on Saturday, October 5 with a 10:00 am kick-off at the Adam Joseph Lewis Center.  This building was named one of the most important green buildings since 1980 based on feedback from green building experts and advocates.  The second stop will be at Trail Magic, Oberlin’s first home that uses a variety of innovations to achieve energy neutrality and sustainability. The third stop is at the Oberlin College solar array.  Oberlin College has entered into a power purchasing agreement with Spear Point Energy to purchase electricity from a 2.27-megawatt (MW) solar array to be constructed on college property. It is the largest photovoltaic array on any college or university campus in Ohio. The power generation is interconnected with a power grid to enable the sale of safe, clean energy.   The fourth stop will be

for lunch hosted by Oberlin Municipal Power in conjunction with Public Power Week and a guided tour of the solar array and diesel/natural gas peaking power plant. A fifth stop is being planned but not confirmed yet. 

Participants of the 2013 Oberlin Green Energy Tour will also be offered special discounts from Slow Train Café, Cowhaus Creamer, and Magpie Pizza.  All these businesses are located in the sustainable building complex called the East College Street building.

Over 200 Open Houses at over 100 Tour Sites are registered for the 4 days of the GEO 11th statewide tour event stretching across 37 counties. GEO Executive Director Bill Spratley said: “A solar unit is installed every 4 minutes in the U.S. and Ohio now ranks 11th in new solar installations. The free GEO Tour is a great opportunity for Ohioans to learn first-hand about the latest in solar, wind, biomass and energy efficiency. Many previous tour-goers have adopted sustainable energy for their home, business and community and now provide their own green energy for a cleaner environment and new jobs.”

The Ohio Development Services Agency (formerly ODOD) is the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s Tour along with Ecohouse, Appalachian Renewable Power, Solaris Blackstone and Zane State College. The GEO Tour is part of the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour.

ABOUT GREEN ENERGY OHIO - GEO is statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting economically and environmentally sustainable energy policies and practices Formed in 2001, see more at GEO is the Ohio Chapter of the American Solar Energy Society. ASES leads national efforts to promote solar energy education, public outreach, and advocacy, see more at

A complete list of tour sites and times are available online at on the guided tour section of the 2013 Tour page. Feel free to attend the entire Oberlin tour or join at a stop along the way.  A carpool caravan will be led from the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, 122 Elm Street (first location on the tour, by Sharon Pearson, Oberlin Project Program Coordinator. For more information and for list of tour sites and map, contact Sharon Pearson at The Oberlin Project offices, by calling (440) 775-6473 or . This tour is co-sponsored by Green Energy Ohio and The Oberlin Project.


Optimized-GEO Tour 2013 Flyer

]]> (Sharon Pearson) Energy Matters Tue, 24 Sep 2013 19:41:48 +0000
Rethink Your Ride Sponsor Spotlight: The Feve new front Feve pic

The current Feve location has been a local landmark for so long that it slipped my mind that Matt and Jason’s first location was across the street from Oberlin City Hall.  The Feve began as a coffee shop and has evolved into “the place to go” by many locals and others who know about Oberlin.

About 20 years ago, Matt and Jason realized that Oberlin was in need of a coffee shop and “night-life.” It was about 12 years ago when the Feve obtained a full liquor license.  As many residents are aware, The Feve is a restaurant and full service bar that also offers catering services.  They are very well known for their tater tots, burgers, and cold beverages.  While many are aware of the Sunday brunch, The Feve also provides brunch on Saturdays too!! Drinks and food range in price from $1 - $11.

The Feve is partially under construction at this time.  The new construction area will provide more room for cooking, preparation, and catering.  In addition a private party/meeting room is being constructed to better accommodate meeting space requests. This expansion will also allow The Feve to offer lunch on the 2nd floor since it can quickly become crowded on the first floor any given day of the week.

Matt and Jason were also proud of their work to replace 90% of the light bulbs with LED bulbs. They decided on this project, in association with other energy upgrades, because they believe it’s the “right thing to do.” As a result of changing their bulbs to LED they may reap a savings of 75% on their energy costs.  

Matt also saidThe Feve uses many local product and food sources.  The maple syrup and eggs are from the Amish not more than 25 miles away.  Their brunch menu includes locally gowned food such as tomatoes.  In fact, during season, their tomatoes and tomato-based soups are from their own gardens.   In addition, they attempt to recycle as much as the City allows, and their food waste is extremely low because of composting. One cool fact is The Feve uses a van to transport items and food that is fueled by used vegetable oil from the fryers onsite. 

Matt and Jason said they spend their money virtually everywhere in town. However, some of the specific places they mentioned are Slow Train Café, Oberlin IGA, Cowhaus Creamery, Lorenzo’s, Agave, and the Oberlin Farmer’s Market.

The Feve is the “Cheers” of Oberlin.  It a great place to talk with students, Oberlin College faculty, and other Oberlin residents.  In fact, it’s a great place for conversation as well.  To view menus and other information, go to or visit them on Facebook to view construction updates or hour changes as a result of the construction. I am looking forward to the completion of the renovation project, how about you?

The Feve
30 South Main St.
Oberlin, OH 44074
(440) 774-1978
Find us on Facebook!

11am - midnight Monday - Friday
3pm - midnight Saturday and Sunday
Brunch: 9:30am - 2:30pm Saturday and Sunday

]]> (Sharon Pearson) Resilient Economy Tue, 30 Oct 2012 12:39:16 +0000
Oberlin Participates in 10th Annual Green Energy Ohio Tour The public is invited to take the FREE “Green Energy Ohio Tour” and network with friends and neighbors using renewable energy, energy efficiency and green design.  There are many open houses and guided green energy tours taking place across the State of Ohio. Oberlin will be participating with a guided tour on Saturday, October 6 from 10 am – 4 pm.

For the last 10 years, the educational non-profit organization Green Energy Ohio (GEO) has sponsored the tour on the first weekend in October to showcase the industry across the state. A few years ago GEO changed the "Ohio Solar Tour" name to the "Green Energy Ohio Tour" to more accurately describe the tour that features not only solar, but tour sites with wind, energy efficiency, biomass and other green energy technologies.  

The Oberlin guided tour commences on Saturday, October 6 with a 10:00 am kick-off at the Adam Joseph Lewis Center.  Architect Magazine named the Lewis Center the most important green building since 1980 based on feedback from green building experts and advocates.  The second stop is a residential home that features a 3.8 kW solar system and rainwater collection system. The third tour stop will be for lunch hosted by Oberlin Municipal Light & Power in conjunction with Public Power Week and a guided tour of the solar array and diesel/natural gas peaking power plant. The fourth stop will be at the Oberlin College solar array.  Oberlin College has entered into a power purchasing agreement with Spear Point Energy to purchase electricity from a 2.27-megawatt (MW) solar array to be constructed on college property. It will be the largest photovoltaic array on any college or university campus in Ohio. The fifth stop will be at Energy Developments, Inc. (EDI). EDI runs an electric generation facility using the methane gas collected from the landfill just outside of Oberlin – by using this resource to generate electricity, EDI is recycling a material that would otherwise be burned as waste and reducing the demand for fossil fuel-based generation. The power generation is interconnected with a power grid to enable the sale of safe, clean energy.   The guided tour concludes with a stop at Trail Magic, Oberlin’s first positive energy home that uses a variety of innovations to achieve climate neutrality and sustainability – to date, Trail Magic has exported over 6,300 kWh back to the grid.

A complete list of tour sites and times are available online at on the guided tour section of the 2012 Tour page. Feel free to attend the whole tour or join at a stop along the way.  A carpool caravan will be led by Sharon Pearson, Program Coordinator for the Oberlin Project, from the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, 122 Elm Street (first location on the tour.) For more information and for a list of tour sites and map, contact Sharon Pearson at The Oberlin Project offices, by calling (440) 775-6473 or This tour is co-sponsored by Green Energy Ohio and The Oberlin Project.

2011 Green Energy Ohio Tour PicTour Sites Information located at: RSVP wth Sharon Pearson at or by phone at 440-775-6473.

]]> (Sharon Pearson) Energy Matters Fri, 21 Sep 2012 15:37:39 +0000
Rethink Your Ride Sponsor Spotlight: Magpie Pizza Magpie Pizza pic 2Living in a college town offer residents the opportunity to be a connoisseur of pizza.  I believe that small and locally owned pizza places have a better taste than their chain-owned competitors. In fact, Magpie’s my pie Tex-Mex pizza is what my taste buds crave on a regular basis.  It is my favorite specialty pizza (just ask the servers there, I don’t even have to tell them my order because when I show up they know what I want as soon as they see me walk in - LOL!)

Magpie Pizza is located in the East College Street Complex at 65 East College Street.  Jim and Rachael Strader, residents of LaGrange, are the owners of Magpie Pizza.  Rachel and Jim opened up Magpie Pizza because they liked the sustainable building complex and are encouraged by the resident’s desire for local foods.  In addition, they have a family history of relatives that are restaurant owners.  One family member owns a restaurant in Lorain County and another family member owns a restaurant in New York. Magpie Pizza offers specialty pizzas, salad, and sandwiches.  Prices range from $4.50 for in individual sized pizza to $18 for a large pizza.

Magpie pizza makes an effort to use local ingredients in the menu items they serve. They use healthy and fresh ingredients in food items.  For example, they use olive oil as an ingredient in their pizza, which makes it less greasy as compared to others.  Another reason their pizza is so good is because they do not use pans, instead they bake their pizza on a stone, which makes their pizza crust light and crispy. Some of ingredients in the food they offer come from Oberlin Farmer’s Market, George Jones Farm, and West Side Market in Cleveland. 

In addition to pizza Magpie Pizza offers six (6) different sandwiches and in the winter they serve soup.  This is more than your average pizza location.  They offer a family friendly atmosphere. Check in on foursquare and show it to your server to receive a discount! You’ll find me checking in on foursquare there about once a week, so see you there soon!


Magpie Pizza
65  East College Street, Suite 2
Oberlin, Ohio  44074
(440) 774-2470

Hours of Operation:

M-W: 11:30 am – 8:00 pm
Thurs: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
F-S: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Sun.: 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

]]> (Sharon Pearson) Resilient Economy Tue, 18 Sep 2012 21:33:56 +0000
Rethink Your Ride Sponsor Spotlight: Cowhaus Creamery Artisan Ice Cream Photo by Eat Drink ClevelandEating ice cream at Cowhaus Creamery is like the taste of beautiful art in your mouth.  Eating at this local creamery is a great experience any time of year because the menu is constantly changing.  Cowhaus Creamery Artisan Ice Cream located at 55 East College Street, Suite 4 in downtown Oberlin, next to Slow Train Café.

The owner of Cowhaus Creamery is Joe Bomback and he is an Oberlin College Alumni from Lorain County. He and his wife Debbie (who is from Shaker Heights) love Oberlin and it was their goal to be involved in the community and so they decided to open up Cowhaus Creamery. 

Tracy Calabro, General Manager, explained that Cowhaus Creamery is local artisan ice cream.  Unlike store bought ice cream, their products are mostly handmade except for the machine used to create the variety of  ice cream flavors. While store bought ice cream is anywhere from 2 months to a year old by the time it reaches the shelves, Cowhaus always serves fresh ice cream, with some made within a few days of being served to customers.  In addition, Cowhaus ice cream contains only 7 – 12 ingredients, while grocery store ice cream has as many as 18 – 50 ingredients of which many are very difficult to pronounce.  Prices at Cowhaus Creamery range from $3.50 a scoop in a cone or cup to $8.50 for a pint of ice cream.  The pints are all hand packed as well.

All of the employees in the store have contributed to the ice cream served at Cowhaus Creamery.  The employees assist by either helping make the ice cream or suggesting a new flavor.  In fact, Joe and Debbie will consider new flavor suggestions from customers as well.  Isn’t that cool?

All new flavors are introduced on their Facebook page so stay tuned. Cowhaus Creamery is one of the finalists for the “Best of Lorain County.” The winners of this countywide competition will be announced in the Fall Edition of Pulse Magazine. Everyone should visit Cowhaus Creamery on a regular basis because there are always new flavors, especially with the changing of the seasons. So stop by and say “hello” to Tracy and ask for a free tasting sample of flavors so you can decide on which flavor that week is your favorite!  And if you don’t see it, perhaps suggest something and maybe you’ll walk in and see your suggested flavor featured that week!

(Photo by Eat Drink Cleveland @

Cowhaus Creamery
55 East College Street, Suite 4
Oberlin, Ohio  44074
Phone:  440-774-5425
Find them on Facebook!Facebook!

Store Hours:
Monday-Thursday - 12:00 to 10:00
Friday-Saturday - 12:00 to 11:00
Sunday - 1:00 to 9:00

]]> (Sharon Pearson) Resilient Economy Mon, 10 Sep 2012 20:37:10 +0000
Rethink Your Ride Sponsor Spotlight: Ben Franklin & MindFair Books Ben Franklin PicI was walking toward Ben Franklin and noticed that I was 20 minutes late according to the downtown clock as a result of another interview.  I underestimated the enthusiasm of business owners to want to talk to me about their business. I quickly rushed in to Ben Franklin and asked for Krista who was already standing there appearing to be a bit out of breath herself.  She said she had also rushed thinking that she was late for her appointment with me.  This is the camaraderie that takes place in Oberlin when a person spends time shopping in downtown and involved with community events.

Krista told me that each Ben Franklin store is independently owned so the setup and displays are different.  There are some Ben Franklin stores that have turned into a craft store so many younger people are surprised to learn that the Ben Franklin in Oberlin is a variety store filled with books (new & used), office supplies, health & beauty items, household goods, fabric, custom framing, fair trade gift items, snacks,  and candy.  Krista says that her store is ever evolving to adapt to the needs of her customers, which is the reason people should visit often.

I asked Krista how she became the owner of Ben Franklin and MindFair Book store.  She said that she had been a bookseller all her life and had been working at NASCORP for about 10 years when she was laid off in 1999.  While considering leaving the area to pursue other book industry jobs, she said it just didn’t feel right to be leaving Oberlin.  Since the Co-op Bookstore had closed, she realized there was an opportunity for a new bookstore, selling used books this time and so decided to start one—MindFair Books.  It was on S. Main Street where Lupita’s is now.  Not long after, she learned that Ben Franklin was up for sale and worked with the Cochrane family to purchase it.  The combination of variety store and books seemed a natural. 

One of the treasured items that tourists love about Ben Franklin in Oberlin is the selection of Melissa and Doug toys.  It can be a challenge to find non-battery operated and durable toys at big box stores. Another unique characteristic about Ben Franklin is the fantastic fabric and yarn shop.  Last year I also learned that Ben Franklin has a custom frame shop.  My fiancé and I drove all the way to Avon to get some picture framed because at the time I didn’t know where else to go.  So as a result, when I needed pictures at the Oberlin Project framed I made sure to get it done locally at Ben Franklin.  MindFair inside of Ben Franklin is also one of the few independent bookstores left in Ohio.  A person can buy just about any book desired.  Also her store is wheelchair accessible and she even allows dogs in her store!

Krista says the places she likes to shop in Oberlin include Ben Franklin (go figure), Ginko Gallery, Watson’s Hardware, Bead Paradise and Oberlin IGA.  She also loves to eat in Oberlin and spreads the love all around.  A few of the places she rattled off were Black River Cafe, Tooo Chinoise, Weia Teia, Agave, The Feve, Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant, Lorenzo’s Pizza, and Magpie Pizza.

From this interview you have learned that Ben Franklin is an original “variety” store with quality, fair trade, and sustainable/natural items.   Also, when you spend money with a local merchant like Ben Franklin the money is spent with other local businesses and the money spent is circulated again in our local economy! As a result of her living in Oberlin and owning a variety store that also sells books, she truly believes that she offers superior service to that of the big box stores and from my personal experience I agree.

(picture above from Ben Franklin Oberlin website)

Ben Franklin & MindFair Books
Owner:  Krista Long
13 West College Street
Oberlin, Ohio 44074
Phone:  774-5711 or

Store hours
Monday - Thursday: 10am–6pm
Friday: 10am–8pm
Saturday: 10am–6pm
Sunday: 12pm–5pm


]]> (Sharon Pearson) Resilient Economy Tue, 21 Aug 2012 14:43:58 +0000
Local Business Spotlight: Ginko Gallery & Studio Ginko picIt was a rainy and somewhat cold Friday morning as I waited outside the door for Liz Burgess to open the door to begin our interview.  As any normal business owner is, she approached the door looking as though she had something on her mind but as soon as she saw my face she began to smile.  She quickly started her computer and turned on music on low as it to set the atmosphere for the day before we sat down in front of the glass case that she recycled from possibly another store that operated in Oberlin.

Liz Burgess is the Owner/Manager of the Ginko Gallery & Studio.  Ginko Gallery & Studio specializes in art made by individual from smaller studios.    Most of the art are considered contemporary crafts with an emphasis at times on local resources, which may be wood, glass, trash metals, etc.  None of the artists are from big companies or studios.  Ginko Gallery also has artist studios and has a large variety of art supplies. The items in her store range from 50 cents to $2,500.  For the most part the artists try to keep some items at $20 or under, keeping in mind that people desiring to find affordable gifts.

I asked Liz why she opened her business in Oberlin.  She said she lived in Oberlin and admired the local artists in the area.  Liz had a career in healthcare before starting Ginko Gallery and she started to create artwork in her spare time.  She also noticed that people in the Oberlin area appreciated locally made art and this is the reason why she decided to open up Ginko Gallery & Studio.

What makes Ginko Gallery special is that 80% of the items in her store are made by local individuals.  Also the store items are constantly changing because artists do not make the same item over and over again.  The artists are the ones that set the price and they are very mindful of trying to make their items affordable to the general public. 

People may not realize that Ginko Gallery also has a significant art supply sections.  Art students, art teachers and members of FAVA receive a 20% discount off these supplies everyday.  This was news to me so I plan to shop her store for items the Oberlin Project can us for their booth at the Oberlin Community Block party event on Saturday, August 29th in Tappan Square.

Liz said it is a myth that stores in downtown Oberlin are closed on Sundays. Ginko Gallery, along with several other stores, are open from Noon to 5 pm each Sunday. She is closed on Mondays but willing to open up for special events or people if she has enough notice.  This is one of the great things about being a local shop owner who also lives within the community.

Liz said that she recycles a lot!  Many of the display fixtures were from other stores or were built but local people.  In fact, she has not had to purchase any packing items for 12 years.  She takes all sorts of packing material, with the exception of packing peanuts.  She said people should taking packing peanuts to the UPS Store in Oberlin.  However, if people have bubble wrap or boxes, even the styrofoam boxes, she will take those too! Also if anyone has any left over art supplies, she encourages people to bring those to her and she will make sure they get donated to the local schools because they are in need of art supplies.

Last but not least I asked Liz where she likes to shop and eat in Oberlin.  She said she loves to eat at Black River Café because it’s next door but there are many other local places she eats at as well.  She shops all the time at Ben Franklin but also The Carlyle Shop, Watson’s Hardware, Ade’s Place and Oberlin IGA.

The interview ended with Liz allowing me to explore as she eagerly showed me around her store and told me where all the various items came from.  I planned for a 15 – 20 minute interview but was drawn in to enthusiasm for the artists and the work she has put into creating a landmark business in Oberlin.

(Above photo from Ginko Gallery & Studio Facebook page)

Ginko Gallery & Studio
19 South Main Street
Oberlin, Ohio  44074
Phone:  440-774-3117
Regular Hours:   Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, 12 noon to 4 p.m

]]> (Sharon Pearson) Resilient Economy Thu, 16 Aug 2012 12:28:28 +0000