about us

Arlene and Larry Dunn − Oberlin, Ohio

Adventurers, inquisitors, instigators, agitators, binders, Arlene and Larry have broad and diverse interests. In all their endeavors, they are stalwarts for social change, to eradicate racism and systematic discrimination on the basis of color, ethnicity, gender expression, sexual preferences, body type, or disability, and to establish true social and economic justice and equity for everyone. Lest you read this as some claim of moral superiority, please know that we have made plenty of mistakes along the way, and no shortage of sins of omission. No matter how much we do, it’s not enough. That’s just how deep these faults and fissures in our society run. But we press on. It’s a lifelong project. Please join us.

Arlene and Larry are avid supporters and promoters of adventurous music in a broad range of styles and practices. They are former Contributing Editors for I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, the online journal of contemporary music, and audience-perspective bloggers (and occasional performers) for International Contemporary Ensemble. They are founding members of the Advisory Board of New Music New College in Sarasota, FL. Larry is a former trustee and current Advisory Board member for the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, where they have endowed the Arlene and Larry Dunn Composer-in-Residence Program, which each year commissions a new work for orchestra from an Oberlin Conservatory student composer from a marginalized community.

Arlene and Larry were founding members of the Oberlin Community Benefits Coalition, a diverse group of people living and/or working in the city of Oberlin who joined together to advocate and negotiate for tangible positive community outcomes from any significant construction projects undertaken by the city, the college, or any core business in the city.

Arlene and Larry led a resident group who advocated for and organized The John Bartram Arboretum at Kendal at Oberlin, the retirement community where they reside. The arboretum is colocated on Kendal’s 100-acre campus. It was chartered by the organization in October 2015 and subsequently was accredited as a Level-1 arboretum by ArbNet, the global network of arboretums and similar tree-focused organizations.

Arlene and Larry have a lifelong commitment to striving for racial, social and economic justice. Arlene became an active supporter of SNCC − the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee − in 1960, and in 1964-65, worked in SNCC field offices in Pine Bluff and Little Rock, Arkansas. You can read more here on this blog. When she returned home to Boston from Arkansas, she joined People Against Racism (PAR), a group of mostly white former workers in SNCC and similar organizations, who were committed to fighting against racism in the white community, where it is endemic. She subsequently became the organization’s National Secretary at its Detroit headquarters, where she met Larry, a member of the local chapter of PAR and a founder of an allied organization, Youth for Peace Freedom and Justice (colloquially know as YIPFUGs).

Arlene had a long professional career as a financial analyst, primarily in the airline industry. She first worked for Simat, Helliesen, and Eichner, a premiere airline industry consulting firm, and subsequently held executive staff positions at Hughes Airwest in San Mateo, CA, Scheduled Skyways in Fayetteville, AR, and Midway Airlines in Chicago.

Larry spent his professional career in computer science and software engineering. He was a pioneer in the development of software and systems for computerized mapping and navigation, first as an executive and technology consultant for SEI Information Technology and then as an executive at the world’s leading roadmap database provider, now called HERE Technologies. He later was a founding partner at Abalta Technologies, in San Diego.

For 25 years, Arlene and Larry lived at Acorn Ridge Gardens, their northwest Indiana homestead on a hummock of sand rising out of what once was the Great Kankakee Marsh and surrounding tallgrass prairie, but has since become vast corn and soybean farms. Part of that time, they operated a landscape plant nursery there, under the same name. Over the years, they developed and tended several acres of landscape beds, a bountiful kitchen garden, and restored prairie. And they lovingly remodeled and rebuilt the 1890 farm house two times in that span.

Arlene holds a BA degree in Mathematics from Brandeis University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She was an Indiana Accredited Horticulturist, a Master Gardener, and was certified in woody plant propagation by the Morton Arboretum, in Lisle, IL.

Larry holds a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from Elmhurst College and an MBA from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University. He was certified as a Master Gardener by the Purdue University Cooperative Extensive Service, Porter County branch.