On Trust & Electric Cars

J and LeafBy Cherice Bock, Whole Terrain editor

My family and I leased a Nissan Leaf earlier this year. It’s fully electric and seats our family of four comfortably. Going along with the current Whole Terrain call for submissions on the theme of trust, I want to share two ways this purchase requires trust: first, I find myself trusting that personal choices can make a difference in the market economy, and second, I must trust that charging stations are placed close enough together that my vehicle will make it from one to the next.

Trust that the market will shift
When looking at all the disparate, interconnected pieces of the ecological problems facing our planet, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. I see myself as one tiny, moving part in the machine of “progress.” If I stop doing my one, tiny function, will I be ground up by this machine? If I try to get off the treadmill of “progress,” will it make any difference, since so many are still moving in that direction?

And yet, I recognize it is human beings who created this system; only human beings can change it.

West Coast Green Highway, http://www.westcoastgreenhighway.com/

West Coast Green Highway, http://www.westcoastgreenhighway.com/

I may be delusional or idealistic, but I choose to trust that my actions do make a difference. I choose to trust that my purchasing power (small as it may be) can effect change and move our society toward more sustainable practices. I choose to trust that each of our tiny examples of environmentally friendly actions and purchases stimulates a ripple effect. For example, I’ve been a vegetarian for about 11 years, and although not many people I know have joined me in being a vegetarian, we’ve had conversations about it, and many of those in my circles now choose sustainably-raised meat. I ride my bike around town with my kids, and several of my friends now do the same. Some friends of ours leased a SmartCar, encouraging my family and me to look into electric vehicles. We leased a Leaf, and some other friends of ours have now leased a Leaf as well. Our small choices, as they ripple out into the population through our networks of connection, do make a difference. “The market,” if it knows what’s good for it, will produce the sustainable products we want to consume. (Whether or not it is possible to live sustainably in a culture based on consumption is a blog post for another day.)

Trust that there will be charging stations

EV stations

Electric vehicle charging stations in the Cascade Mountains: Detroit and Sisters, OR

I live in the Pacific Northwest, where there is already a fairly strong electric highway. The Leaf goes far enough on a charge that usually it’s possible to arrive home before needing to recharge, anyway.

At the end of the summer, however, my family and I decided to take our first road trip in the Leaf. We loaded up our gear for a family vacation and headed to central Oregon from the Portland area. I’m not going to lie, we were a bit nervous and overly-cautious. On the 180-mile trip, we stopped four times to charge, even though the Leaf can generally go 100 miles to the charge. We didn’t want to get stuck in the middle of the Cascade Mountains with no way to recharge.

I learned that we can, in fact, trust that we’ll make it to a charging station. I also learned to trust the process: with two young kids, traveling at this rate made the trip memorable and relaxing. We stopped at various charging stations and made memories of playing together, meeting locals who chatted us up as we waited, and finding mountain blackberries. Instead of our vacation being about the destination, it was about the journey.

EV station at AUNEP.S.

Antioch University of New England, which houses the Whole Terrain office, just put in a new electric vehicle charging station! Here is a blurb from their press release:

Antioch University New England is proud to dedicate the first publicly available Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station in the Monadnock Region. AUNE is one of five sites in the state selected by Public Service of New Hampshire for a rebate to cover installation costs. The handicapped-accessible EV charging station made by Control Module in Enfield, Connecticut, is located on AUNE’s campus and available to the public free of charge to the user.

If you’re in the Keene, NH area, you’re welcome to attend the ribbon cutting celebration for this new charging station:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 4 p.m.
Antioch University New England
40 Avon Street (Main Parking Lot)
Keene, NH 03431
~Refreshments Provided~
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