Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Monday, October 16, 2006

Classic Cars meet sustainability

Photo by Jean-Philippe

The 13th annual Park Street Classic Car show arrived in town. It used to end at Lincoln street, but after Donna opened up the Alameda Marketplace, Rob Ratto (King of Park Street) ran it all the down past her establishment, to Buena Vista. The issue? All the dirty, "left-over," project cars and semi-classic cars parked in front of her driveway, and her customers couldn't do their Saturday shopping! And the beer-swilling motorheads came in to use her restrooms!

I suggested to her that someyear we stage a car show that would appeal to her LOHAS clientelle. At the Berkeley Biofuel vision meeting, when I mentioned creating a sustainable transportation annex show at the classic car show, my friend Alan Pryor said he'd help.

Then my family got evicted, bought a house, got roommates, started school, and was there time to do anything? Almost... almost.

A couple of weeks ago I learned that Alan was ready to do the organizing end of the event, so I got on the phone and email and contacted the people I've been meeting over the years and invited them. As the word went out, people got excited about the idea of having these other cars at the classic car show. I've learned that Rob Ratto also got excited about it. That's pretty cool. My idea of him is as a "not invented here" sort of guy; perhaps it's time to change my mind about him.

Saturday, the sun was warm even through the clouds, Donna was thrilled to have us there, people were able to shop, and we had a steady stream of visitors to look at the hybrids, biofuel cars, the electric cars, and the Smart® cars. We had a little electric scooter, too. The only people who didn't show up were the bicycle retinue. I'll get them next year.

I had just one conversation about "solutions aren't really solving anything" with a man about PG&E's Hunter's Point plant, which just closed this past May. He spoke as though it was still open, and was a massive polluter. A little research shows that PG&E has been working towards closing that plant for a few years, and it was less polluting than most other plants. Yes, it's in a low-income neighborhood and was tossing toxics into the air, so it's great environmental justice victory that it closed, but no, driving an EV on electrons from that plant wasn't more polluting than driving a car.

The rest of the day, peak oil and global warming were simply conversational postulates, and so when I talked with people we spoke along the lines of "Here's what we can do" rather than "We have to do something."

My favorite scene was with the young family who patiently let their four-year old play in my car for perhaps 40 minutes. When their baby woke up, they began to leave, and spent 10 minutes helping the oder boy transition to going home. Never once did they raise their voices, and never once did they lose track of the baby's needs, as they lovingly practiced their style of attachment parenting.

I had so much fun talking with people about my Sparrow, Ed's Sparrow, the hybrids, the biodiesels, taking them around to look at Winnie's straight veggie oil Mercedes, and looking at the tiny engine inside the Mercedes' Smart® car. I encouraged people to think about their transportation needs in a realistic manner; can you get as far as you need to on electrons? Do you need the reassurance of having a production model car? Do you have the money to pay a bit more for fuel? Between myself and the other presenters, we reached out to over one hundred people.

Saturday, I got to be the face of change, at an event in which I had a hand in its creation.

Thank you so much Alan Pryor, Dave Weston, David Anderson, Sienna Wildwind, Donna Layburn, Jarman Massie and Sabina, and Winnie. You all responded so easily and so well. Event creation is somenting of a mystery to me, and when one works out, I am amazed and pleased.

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