Early Earth Day Odyssey
The Early Earth Day Odyssey was an enormous task and opportunity. To visit 29 different communities to communicate about the economic, environmental and national security benefits of CNG and NEV vehicles remains daunting even after the 1st stage is complete. But I would like to review the first 9 communities in an effort to encourage more Pickens Planners to participate and to make sure that I am maximizing the efforts of my associate, Tom Schee and myself.
Finding the right person at the right venue was generally the first objective. This was made easier by the fact that Tom and I have visited most of these communities and campuses on earlier trips. Coordinating campus schedules and allowing enough time for loading and unloading vehicles, props and the video, Journey to the ZONE (Zero Oil, No Emissions) was learned on last year's adventure.
Rising early and being prepared to forego lunch and then travel until after dark before retiring is just the physical challenge that we were required to perform. Sometimes the mental anguish of explaining the importance of the message was a part of the other challenges but I must say that most campuses have a small but persistant group of people that understand this mission had been sidetracked since the '70's and must be realigned now. The absurdly low oil prices certainly have a contributed to the inertia that can be present at some communities. But as Winston Churchill said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
Our first stop was in a community that has already demonstrated the vision to invest in NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) technology. The mayor of Whitehall has also been working with legislators to broaden the usage of NEVs in communities that are dissected by state highways. This was our "dress rehearsal" and we learned that the dolly that we had rented for transporting the CNG Honda CIvic GX was going to damage the nose of the car partially due to the below zero temperatures. But as Elbert Hubbard said, "The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one." After the initial damage, we did not have to be afraid of making that mistake again.
The city of Eau Claire has recently passed the NEV ordinance, so we were anxious to get the city officials involved in the presentation at UW-Eau Claire. The venue was outstanding but the community response did not include a city official from Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls or Bloomer. The sustainability community is developing as a result of a recently appointed Sustainability Fellow but our first event beyond "dress rehearsal" was clearly not a sell-out.
A family friend from the '60's provided the conections at Rice Lake that proved that small communities can still be some of the most enlightened. I must thank Kathy and Debbie for making the WITC event one of the best on stage 1 and a fitting end of an otherwise dissappointing start. My discussion of WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio) as well as the local press releases to the weekly newspapers fueled the majority of the attendence. The questions and comments were great.
UW-Superior was a cold and early gathering that proved successful on the basis that the local technical colleges sent teachers and students that provided the enthusiasm that we needed to start the middle stage to be rewarding.
We encountered great attendance at Wisconsin's premiere independent environmental college at Northland College. But a miscommunication with the AV personnel created a rushed atmosphere for me and I was not at my finest. But as Henry David Thoreau said, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined," and I do and have lived the energy efficient life. Many of the audience will as well but technical difficulties prevented this event from being as effective as the graduates of Northland College.
The first day radio interview was a premonition of the success of the Rhinelander event. The Nicolet Technical College press release even got us TV coverage and the response in attendance and questions proved again that small communites can be some of the most enlightened. I even stayed to say hello to an incredibly interesting explorer named, Eric Larsen. Please take my recommendation to see his presentation if he is in your "neighborhood."
Wausau has been a location that we have visited repeatedly in recent times but a last minute venue change prevented this gathering from being successful.
UW-Stevens Point is the home of the environmental education program for the UW system. Our PR work must be better next time but a dedicated group of "green" people and the opportunity to return the following day for a special event made Stevens Point a special location.
Thank goodness that the Pickens Plan prompted me to encourage speakers with solar and NEV specialties to participate in the Tomah event. The PR for the event was apparently non-existant but the interest came from within. And the opportunity to see Columbia's first Summit NEV with a solar charging system made it all worthwhile. John Keats was quoted as saying, "I was never afraid of failure, for I would sooner fail than not be among the best." And I was among the best experts in their fields in our area.
Thank you to all of you who had a hand in making the 1st stage of the Early Earth Day Odyssey as successful as it was in January. Stay tuned for the 2nd stage in February! Please RSVP the events in your area to send a signal to other PP'ers to get involved.