NRDC's Drive Beyond Oil Tour comes to Daytona Beach
The Natural Resources Defense Council's Drive Beyond Oil tour is coming to my town of Daytona Beach on Tuesday. I was instrumental in getting the Tour to stop at my place of employment, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. And by "instrumental" I mean I got an email from the NRDC that the drivers were looking for places to stop in Daytona, so I called the NRDC contact and said, "Uh, you guys think maybe you wanna come by here?" To which they responded, "Uh, okay! Kewl!" Well, the conversation was somewhat more coherent than that, and the arrangements slightly more involved, but that was about the gist of it, really. Heh.
To explain the purpose of the tour, here's an excerpt from an NRDC press release from early August, just prior to the start of the first leg:
Amid sky-high energy prices and as the economic and environmental challenges of America's oil dependence are becoming increasingly clear, a national conservation group is hitting the road to showcase the cleaner, faster and cheaper path toward energy security.
Starting Sunday, four representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) will embark on the "Drive Beyond Oil Tour," cruising across nine states in a Ford Escape Hybrid SUV, the first production hybrid SUV, and a 2006 Chevrolet Impala that can run on ethanol fuels as well as gasoline.
The crew will meet with local citizens, mayors, farmers, clean energy advocates and others to talk about better technology in our vehicles, clean renewable energy sources like fuels made from home-grown crops and wind and solar energy. Together, these alternatives will create new jobs, reduce global warming pollution, and end our dependence on oil from the Middle East and other politically volatile regions of the world.
In order for me to get approval for the Tour to stop at the campus, I had to get an academic department or club to sponsor it. The campus chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers seemed like the logical choice, so I contacted them. They were very interested, and for good reason - our students are currently building a Formula hybrid race car! Our kids will no doubt wow the NRDC's drivers with their mad engineering skillz.
I'm very excited about this, which should be evident by my use of five, count 'em, five exclamation points thus far. (I generally try to avoid exciting punctuation.) First, it's great that the people involved on campus were so interested, especially since there's a real academic connection. Second, anything that gets attention to any resources that can help reduce our dependence on foreign oil is a good thing.
But frankly, I must admit the main reason I'm excited is a selfish one; it's that this all has, so far, come together relatively easily. Granted, it's not a huge event requiring facility rentals, food service, money collection, etc. It's simply that I saw this opportunity and jumped on it, and so far at least, it's working out well.
And I don't think I would have had the confidence or even the desire to do so if it weren't for the netroots. When I first started reading progressive blogs regularly, I witnessed people doing huge, mindblowing activist things I thought I could never do. But after many months of reading, I realized most people aren't spending every waking hour involved in activism. Instead, they're doing little things like writing letters to the editor, sending a little money to candidates, canvassing and phone banking, just whatever they can make time for. But the beauty is, it all adds up to big results. And then I realized, I can do this. :-)
So don't give up. Do what you can, even if it's just sending a few bucks to a local or national candidate you like or a cause you support. It matters.
[crossposted with some editing to Daily Kos]