The Other Guy Without a Car

(The title refers to this recent blog post.)

I am always impressed with the cool people I meet during an election. I’m sure it’s because I actually get out and meet more people than when I just stay on the farm and work, but it’s a nice change nevertheless. DSC_0385

I was interviewed by CKWS-TV last week about the campaign. This was fun since I used to work there, eons ago in my ‘TV sales’ days. I arranged to meet the reporter at “Seasons” which is the fine food store in Napanee where we have our weekly drop off for our CSA.

We did the interview in the store and then started chatting afterwards. It was clear to me that Darren the reporter was very well read. It’s hard to say that without sounding pompous and arrogant, but that is not my intent. It was just that he seemed to have a lot of interesting perspectives I don’t often get. As we spoke about climate change and humanity’s lack of response to it, he got into how humans aren’t wired for this. Even though on one level our intellect is light years ahead of where it was when we lived in caves, we still have some of the caveperson instinct. In other words we’re wired to be concerned with immediate threats, like the panther in the tree while we’re hunting. To be concerned with an existential problem that burning fossil fuels might create ‘in the future’ is not a clear and present danger so we’re unable to process the information and come up with a logical reaction.

I have read this in a number of books about climate change. It would help explain the meme or social construct I point out when Michelle asks me how the All Candidates Meeting went. I say “Great, people nodded their heads in acceptance about the need to deal with climate change and then they said ‘But what about income splitting?’” Lots of the communities in our riding are situated along rivers which keep having ‘100 year’ floods, every couple of years. So I say “What about the floods and they say ‘yea, the floods, but what about terrorists?’” Sigh.

So I kept chatting with Darren and at one point I asked him what kind of car he drove, to which he replied “I don’t own a car.” Wait… What? You don’t own a car? You mean you lease? “Nope, haven’t had a car since 1998.”

I think it’s so wonderful when you meet someone you are instantly in awe of. To meet someone who just decided ‘I will go against the overwhelming social trend and not own a personal transportation device with an internal combustion motor’. He had “potential Green Party voter” written all over him!

Darren lives in downtown Kingston (which I love) and he can walk to work. He owns an electric bike. He uses a vehicle at work, which the company provides. He takes the bus when he has to, but in Kingston that means leaving the beautiful downtown with a vibrant “Princess Street” retail community to go out to “Kingston Township” with its strip malls and monstrous big box stores which resembles every other suburban wasteland. In other words, he’s really not missing anything.

When he travels to visit family, he takes the train. In other words, he sits in comfort and reads while the rest of us are trashing the tiny blood vessels in our brains as we deal with traffic that never ends and drivers who are becoming more erratic in their behavior as each year passes.

Yup, it’s a logical, intelligent thing to do, yet so few of us do it.

We know another couple in Kingston who took one of my “Thriving During Challenging Times” workshops. They started with two cars. Dropped to one. Starting cycling a lot. Got used to winter cycling. Changed their work situations to better accommodate their changing transportation situation, and then got rid of their remaining car. Again I am just in awe.

I own a car. For many rural dwellers it is a fact of life. Michelle and I try and use it as little as possible. If we do go to a city we run a day’s worth of errands and then avoid going back to the city for as long as possible. I am appalled with the mileage I racked up during this election, but I rationalize it with my belief that the Green Party message is that important to get out, and the fact that I drive a fairly fuel efficient small car. Yes, that’s a huge rationalization.

There are times when we’re not running the CSA that one of us will realize it’s been several weeks since we were in town. We still pick up the mail and essentials periodically, but the car can often sit for days. Still, we’re not even in the ballpark of Darren from CKWS – aka “No Car Man”.

My son-in-law was home for (Canadian) Thanksgiving this weekend and spent a great deal of time discussing the Tesla, an electric car, which he loves. I think it’s awesome too, especially if you’re charging it with solar panels rather than coal fired grid electricity.

And that’s why I keep buying lottery tickets. Someday there will be a Tesla in my driveway, and another array of solar panels to charge it. In the meantime I shall charge up the lithium-ion battery on the electric bike, dig out that head band that keeps my ears from freezing in our fall weather at the 30 km per hour (20 mph) speed that the bike generates, and start picking up my mail and running my errands on the bike. No Car Man has shamed me into it!

**Here is the clip that Darren filmed of all of the candidates in my riding of Hastings-Lennox&Addington. Today is October 15 and it may not be up for long so if the link doesn’t work CKWS has probably taken it down.


5 Responses to “The Other Guy Without a Car”

  • Hi Neil! Ya … about those signs. Given that this is a new riding (electoral district) there was no money in the budget for signs. And when I see how many signs the other candidates have plastered all over the riding, I can only imagine them all filling up a landfill as soon as the election is over. Not exactly a “Green” image ….

  • Brian:

    “some people argue that the carbon emitted when the car was made makes up the difference”

    I always laugh when people say that to me when they see I drive a Prius. I usually reply sarcastically about how the Fairy Dust their 4×4 released during its production is so much better for the environment.

  • Just today, CBC news published a report based on a substantial 632,000 respondents that a large majority of Canadians believe the government should do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
    Methinks the populace is getting restless and tired of the the stalling and bullheaded approach they have been seeing in their government.
    BTW, I was in Bancroft last weekend… I was hoping to take a pic in front of a Cam Mather GREEN sign but none to be found… but I do know one person who will be putting an “X” in your box 🙂

  • You’re looking good Cam. And what a cute little store. Hope you get elected but that is going to cut into your work at home and probably require using your car more. As someone that just bought an affordable used Chevy Volt, I can’t tell you how happy I am with it and yes a Tesla would have been great but if I waited til I could afford that I would be waiting forever. Yes I now have a car payment but I was going to have to buy a car anyway since my kids drove my 1998 Subaru into the ground and it now looks like something from Road Warrior. Reason I love the volt? It was a lease return, less than 25,000 miles on it, and a JOY to drive. We bought it on Father’s day in June and have only filled the 9 gallon gas tank up 3 times in the last 4 months (due to taking a couple longer trips) as opposed to filling a much larger tank every week. What a difference. And the fact that I am doing most of my driving on electric makes me feel so much better about driving. I have had some people argue that the carbon emitted when the car was made makes up the difference but when you don’t live in the city and, like you, need a vehicle to get somewhere you are going to need a car anyway and don’t gas powered cars emit the same carbon footprint when manufactured? Just saying. Now all I need to do is get some solar panels to recharge the Volt. Living in the Northwest though a lot of our electric is Hydro. Good luck on your campaign.
    And BTW the longer trips we took in the Volt were to look for property to do basicly what you are doing. Just looking for our place in the sun.

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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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