Working For Sustainability


Ohio University Sustainability Project Coordinator hopes to bring experience to council

Bennett Leckrone / Slot Editor

When Samuel Emerson Crowl returned to Athens in 1996 after spending time teaching English in Japan, he never imagined he’d be staying for more than 20 years — or running for city council.

Crowl said he and his wife decided to settle down in Athens for good after his three children were born about the time he and his wife attended graduate school at Ohio University.

“Things just sort of fell into place,” Crowl said.

“Sustainability is not only about the environment,” he said. “It needs to be about people, the environment, and prosperity."– Samuel Emerson Crowl

Crowl is running as an unopposed Democrat for Athens City Council’s third ward seat. He will replace Councilwoman Michele Papai if elected.

Crowl, who works as OU’s sustainability project coordinator and is working on a nearly-complete doctorate in history, said he’s seen a growing relationship between OU and Athens in the past few years.

Items like the Memorandum of Understanding between Athens and OU didn’t exist when Crowl  was young.

“I think the town-gown relationship was a little bit strained in my younger years,” Crowl said. “(I) would like to see that cooperation go even further.”

Sustainability is very important to Crowl.

“Sustainability is not only about the environment,” Crowl said. “It needs to be about people, the environment, and prosperity.”

John Haseley, chairman of the Athens County Democratic Party, said Crowl could provide insight to clean energy efforts in Athens.

“He has a really good voice and will bring a lot of good insight to a lot of the sustainability and green energy efforts we’re taking in Athens,” Hasely said. “I think he’ll approach every issue with a thoughtful, common-sense approach.”

Crowl said he would support issues like the city’s Sustainability Action Plan and the East State Street improvements to make it a “complete street.”

“It’s advocating for motorists, but it’s also advocating for pedestrians,” Crowl said. “It’s a way to try to make our streets work the best for everybody. When we do that, we will have a community where we can see some real changes in terms of how fast people drive.”


According to a previous Post report, the East State Street Improvements, which council approved this fall, will add bike lanes and sidewalks to the street.


“As we knew we were going to be improving East State Street, which desperately needed it, we also realized that, in terms of accessibility on East State Street, there's no sidewalk along there,” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said in the previous Post report. “This falls right in line with our efforts to make the City of Athens more accessible for all modes of transportation.”


Crowl said he would continue to support “complete streets” when he is elected, as it is a sustainable concept.

According to the OU Office of Sustainability website, Crowl is also involved with sustainable transportation, buildings and zero waste initiatives.

Athens City Council President Chris Knisely said she’s aware of the work the Office of Sustainability does at OU.

“I’m familiar with the Office of Sustainability and some of the work that they do, and I think it’s great,” Knisely said.


Crowl said he hopes to continue council’s current sustainability work.


“I’m an advocate for thinking about development from a sustainability viewpoint,” Crowl said. “There has been some progress, but that can continue to be strengthened.”

A man in a photo previously attached to this article was incorrectly identified as Samuel Emerson Crowl. The photo has been changed to reflect the most accurate information.

Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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