Small Community, Big Solutions: Antioch College Students Work Toward Sustainability

Written by Community Solutions Miller Fellow Rose Hardesty

After 75 years on East Whiteman Street, Community Solutions has moved to a larger office on the campus of Antioch College. Our connection with the college goes back to the beginning. Our founder, Arthur Morgan, served as the college’s president in the 1920s. The co-op program is his most memorable and lasting curricular innovation, one of several policies that stemmed from Morgan’s belief that college needed to educate the whole person, cultivating in students academic, technical and social knowledge, as well as a sense of purpose. 

There is a lot of overlap between these ideas and the Community Solutions mission today. Our approach is also holistic, recognizing that true sustainability is impossible without a culture of local and cooperative living, and vice versa. 

However, the most tangible present connection to Antioch is not our founder, or our new physical location, it is our student workers. We currently have four Antioch Miller Fellows (Lucas Bautista, Rose Hardesty, Scott Montgomery, Alex Wragg) and one LEAF Scholar (Leah Newton) on staff. 

The Miller Fellowship Program is a program of the Yellow Springs Community Foundation, funded by the Nolan J. and Richard D. Miller Endowment Fund. Nolan Miller was Associate Editor of The Antioch Review, a beloved Antioch College professor and writing teacher. Richard Miller, his brother, was a highly regarded artist working in many different media. The purpose of the fund is to support Antioch College students who engage in service for the benefit of the Yellow Springs community. Students work part-time during academic quarters, and full-time over co-op. 

LEAF (Leadership and the Environment at Antioch Fellowship) Scholars are students with demonstrated aptitude and commitment to the field of environmental science. They receive half tuition scholarships at Antioch as part of the college’s efforts to promote sustainability. LEAF scholars also commit to volunteer five hours a week in local environmental organizations. 

I sat down to talk with each of our Antioch student employees, and share their experiences as well as my own below. 

What have you learned working at Community Solutions? 

Lucas: “I learned how to design a website and maintain it.” Scott adds, “Lucas particularly enjoys the opportunity to develop technical expertise
to work on social marketing and IT related jobs and improve his communication skills, especially online.”

Scott: “I have enjoyed the opportunity to develop many professional skills, such as creating online newsletters, managing social media accounts, and using Google analytics to analyze our website’s traffic and make data- informed decisions.” 

Leah: “I have learned about the community here and gotten a better perspective on what is going on locally. I work with Jonna, so I am engaged with the Springfield Promise program, and the 365 Project, and various community oriented programs that I other- wise would not have known existed.” 

Alex: “I have had a variety of tasks, from data entry to manual labor. My co-op here was my first nine to five job, so I got to learn what that was like.” 

Rose: “Grant research and writing has been a huge part of what I do here, and that is such a valuable skill. I have also been involved in strategic planning, and have learned a lot about the inner workings of non-profit organizations. I am not an environmental scientist, I am a storyteller, and Community Solutions has shown me a variety of ways that can be valuable in environmental work and activism.” 

Are there connections between your work here and what you are doing at Antioch? 

Lucas: “There are direct connections to classes like Global Seminar: Energy, or any class related to the 

environment. I am also on Antioch’s Sustainability Committee, and part of the Student Activists for Sustainability, so there are a lot of connections.” 

Scott: “There are a lot of connections between my work here and classroom learning. For example, I took a Social Marketing for Sustainability class at Antioch, and the tie-ins for my work here were very strong. It was a great opportunity to take what I was learning in the class- room and immediately apply it to my job at Community Solutions.” 

Leah: “Yes, I have been able to tie in my environmental science curriculum with what I am doing here. I also work on the Antioch College farm, and there has been dialogue between the farm and Community Solutions and Springfield Promise. Earlier this week, someone I know from Springfield Promise came to the Antioch farm, and some of the Antioch farm workers went to see some Springfield gardens, to have an exchange of ideas.” 

Alex: “As an environmental science major, I see connections between our emphasis on renewable energy and sustainable agriculture and the kinds of things I want to do later in life.” 

Rose: “There are a lot of connections between what I am learning here and what I am learn- ing at Antioch, and they really build on each other. I did a lot of research and some of the writing for the grant that 

funded Community Solutions’ Energy Navigators project, which I then presented on as my final class project in Global Seminar: Energy. 

“My Ecopsychology class at Antioch really helped me shape how I view ideas we talk about at Community Solutions such as Inner Transition and Being the Change, which then later informed my relationship to texts in my Ecological Theology and Religion class. 

“I have also been able to pursue independent projects at Community Solutions that connect to my literature major, such as curating a children’s library with books that explore the themes of community and environ- mental stewardship.” 

What is your favorite part of work- ing at Community Solutions? 

Lucas: “I really like our Friday lunches, for the good food and the good conversation.” 

Scott: “I enjoy being able to contribute to major decisions. We’re not just grabbing everyone’s coffee, we actually have significant roles. I enjoy being part of the team.” 

Leah: “Rose always has chocolate.” 

Alex: “The really good people, and the conversations we have here.” 

Rose: “I like working at a job that represents an intersection of my values- -environmental conservation, community and social justice.”