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zero-to-big-oil

I’m positively gleeful that oil companies haven’t received a penny from me for 14 months. But does my in-your-face activism turn people off? If so — and I’m not sure it does — as far as I’m concernded the only people who are going to be turned off are the very last people on earth likely to go electric anyway. So screw ’em!

I’m a political activist at heart. Have been since the age of 11, and always will be for better and/or for worse — depending on your perspective.

I’m literally incapable of being a follower or of swiming with the mainstream — though I might be a happier person if I had this capacity.

I don’t mean that I’ll show up at work one day in a pink dress and tights, although I think it’s radically silly and dumb that if I wanted to do this, that I would be “forbidden” from doing so by larger social norms.

Pink dresses for men aren’t important to my personal identity, but I acknowledge they are for other men – good for them!

Identity battles
I fight my own identity battles on other fronts: language/multilingualism, gender, and the environment. I’ve spoken only German to my two daugthers, now, 10 and, 8, since they were born, even though German is a second, not a first language for me — because I so strongly believe in multilingual living.

I absolutely detest, and reject, traditional gender roles in terms of parenting. I’m proud to say I’ve spent at least as much, if not more, time with my two daughters — who are more important to me than anything in the world! — than my ex-wife! [She has had lots of time with them too!]

Finally, I’ve engaged in environmental activism since I was introduced to bird-watching in a seventh-grade science class in Madison, Wis. (I live in Colorado today). Hence, the founding of SolarChargedDriving.Com almost six years ago!

I’m not satisfied with simply leading by example: I want others to know, and see, I am leading by example.

I’m more than happy to be an allegedly excessively political and “elitist” person so that I might effectively inspire important social change. And I believe I need to be out there, even sometimes in ways that others might see as me being in people’s faces, to a degree, in order to get this sort of change to happen.

I don’t care if I’m incorrectly accused of being an “elitist” for doing so. Other people criticizing me for being “elitist” = other people who believe their status quo way of life is “better” trying to maintain their allegedly “better” way of life in the face of my challenges to that “better” way of life. Hmm… this means that the basis of their critique of me as “elitist” is itself “elitist”!

I’m more than happy to be an allegedly excessively political and “elitist” person so that I might effectively inspire important social change. And I believe I need to be out there, even sometimes in ways that others might see as me being in people’s faces, to a degree, in order to get this sort of change to happen.

Why?

95 percent don’t know your car is electric!
Because how can others even know to think differently about, for example, driving an electric car vs. a gasoline car, if they don’t even know what an electric car is, if they don’t know that your non-descript, if also somewhat goofy-looking, four-door hatchback is in fact an electric, rather than a gas, car?

I also deliberately added the American flag to some of my bumper stickers because so many conservatives (not all) try, oh so hard, to claim America, and the flag, as theirs, and allegedly, theirs only!

I put a vanity plate on my 2014 Nissan LEAF, “SOLPWRD”, in May 2014 to try and raise awareness (my LEAF is powered by solar). I added several provocative bumper stickers about six weeks ago. Among them, “Zero Money to Big Oil”, “Zero Money to OPEC”, and “Zero Air Pollution.”

I also deliberately added the American flag to some of my bumper stickers because so many conservatives (not all) try, oh so hard, to claim America, and the flag, as theirs, and allegedly, theirs only!

In the six weeks since I’ve had the bumper stickers on my car and across nearly 2,000 miles of solar-charged EV driving, only three times have plug-in cars actually “landed” behind me. Sadly, this illustrates just how much more EV activism work must be done, at least in the Denver, Colo area — but that’s another blog entry 😉

To return to my bumper stickers: I always look in my rear-view mirror to see how people are reacting to them. My favorite scenario is to have a giant gas guzzling pickup that’s 15-feet off the ground behind me ;-).

In the case of the three plug-ins that landed behind me: First, I had a Chevy Volt behind me about five weeks ago. I detected no perceptible reaction. Disappointment. With the second EV that ended up behind me — a BMW i3 — I could see smiles and a discussion between the driver and passenger. I instructed my two daugthers to wave. The two women in the i3 waved back enthusiastically 🙂

The air is political!
This morning, another black Nissan LEAF exactly like mine ended up directly behind us. It was driven by a midde-aged, balding man. No reaction. None at all. Just indifference, and even a cold stare. In fact — it’s hard to tell — I almost feel like I got an “anti-reaction”. My kids were with me. But I gave them no wave instructions this time. Disappointment, again. (I did once get a thumbs up from a driver in a gas Ford Focus!).

I can only speculuate about what was going through “Frankie’s” head in the black Nissan LEAF behind me — but I will here, because I’d like to make a point: Let’s say the guy driving the LEAF, henceforeth known as Frankie ;-), was turned off by my “politicization” of EVs.

My response: Everything we do is political. Whether it’s the clothes we buy, the food we buy, the cars we buy, heck, the (polluted) air we breathe, or the (polluted) water we drink, everything is wrapped up in politics. Politics  =  the (in)formal organization of/grouping of people with specific values into groups with similar values + the effort to express those similar values and to establish those values as values (for everyone else).

Sorry Frankie, this means electric cars — because they express our values, like everything we do! — are political, whether you choose to acknowledge this or not.

Everything is value laden. Even if we live our lives “a-politically”, we are living according to a core value of “a-political-ness”.

Sorry Frankie, this means electric cars  — because they express our values, like everything we do! — are political, whether you choose to acknowledge this or not.

Sure, there’s a continuum of political-ness. I’ll cop to being more on the end of direct, even what you might call “in-your-face” politics, than the guy driving the LEAF behind me this morning.

But he’s on the political-ness spectrum too, like it or not!

alina-kyra-leaf-feb-2015Fired up about activism on solar-charged driving
Why bother to establish the fact that everything is value laden, that we, as humans, are fundamentally value-making beings?

First, it serves my rhetorical purposes 😉 If everything is value-laden, I’ve won the battle for the argumentative ground upon which this argument takes place! That is, if you try to argue that there is an “outside of” values, you’ve already lost, because that claim itself reflects a value-laden, and therefore, political, perspective!

But it’s not just about me “winning” in the onging battle of human values. It’s also about the fact that in order to raise awareness, in this case, awareness about electric cars, and the amazing fact that they can be fueled by electricity generated on home rooftops such as my own, we simply cannot let the claims to “a-political-ness” stand.

Such claims undermine the cause of electric vehicles and solar.

How?

By feeding the dominant belief that there is such a thing as a “non-political” existence, and, equally damaging, that “non-political” living is “better.”

Chalk one up for the political status quo, baby [sarcasm alarm!]! In this case, the political social status quo = More oil consumed, more pollution caused, more of the same people who have gotten rich and powerful based on the current political system staying rich and powerful.

If “non-political” living is possible (it is NOT!) and it is “better” (NOPE!), then it follows that political activism such as that in which I’m engaging in putting bumper stickers on my car, is “bad”. And that my activism therefore can be criticized and/or dismissed on these grounds.

Chalk one up for the political status quo, baby [sarcasm alarm!]! In this case, the political social status quo = More oil consumed, more pollution caused, more of the same people who have gotten rich and powerful based on the current political system staying rich and powerful.

The politics of the “non-political”
In short, in most cases, disingenous claims to the “non-political” = using the politics of the “non-political” to maintain the politics of the status quo.

bee-grn-plate

I’m not the only electric car driver with an activist streak, as this license plate on another Nissan LEAF attests. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]

This can be effective, sadly because so many people mistakenly believe some things are “non-political”.

But claims to “non-political-ness” cannot hide as “a-political” when they get called out! That’s what I’m doing here, calling out the falsity of claims to the “non-political”.

I don’t necessarily hold anything against those who would rather not be out front with political bumper stickers and license plates on their electric vehicles  — as long as you don’t hold it against me that I am in out front on those things, and as long as you don’t criticize me for “politicizing” something which is in any case inherently political: Electric vehicles and solar-charged electric vehicles.

I will concede, however, that I do not identify with your “non-political” ways, and even that I don’t quite grasp them.

After all, what’s the point of driving an EV, if not to change things — not necessarily in terms of cleaner air (although how could you be against cleaner air!), but in terms of a better, more economical, fun, more independent driving experience for me, you, and everyone else?

before-after-bumper-sticks

Driving around with the license plate SOLPWRD wasn’t enough for me — so I recently added some bumper stickers. First, it wasn’t clear to me how many would even understand my plate. Second, I wanted to say more than a personalized plate can. Probably two-thirds of people are indifferent to my stickers, another 15 percent intrigued, and maybe 10 percent pissed off. But the people who are going to be pissed off will be among the last humans on earth to switch to an EV, even when it’s 100 percent clear to the other 90 percent why EVs are better.

 

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