“Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us…The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America.
Who & What
2016 was a consequential year for me. In January, I earned an Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership (EMSL) from Arizona State University’s (ASU) School of Sustainability. It is not like I suddenly got perspective on the environmental challenges we face. That awakening began in high school where I read Silent Spring, was inspired by song writer and environmental activist Pete Seeger and watched keenly as President Nixon and Congress formed the Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. But EMSL provided me with the knowledge, tools and lens to see how I could bring my environmental ethics into my business and thus change the very nature of our industry.
However, three months later, my business partner of 34 years announced that he wanted to retire, so as agreed, we sold China Mist Tea Company, the business we founded in my garage in 1982. But I don’t call this “retirement.” After all, I am a young sixty-four years old. I don’t fish or play golf, I have two high-school aged kids and plenty of ideas about how I can leave the world a better place. I call this, “pivoting.”
The following February, my son Neo earned his driver’s license and I began to think about doing a road trip with him. Road tripping is a passion of mine that until now, had been reserved for close friends or wife. However, come December, I had an idea about where and when. Thus, began this adventure.
Where, When & How
So, my now 17-year-old son Neo and I are going on an epic road trip—a father-son bonding adventure through some of the most scenic parts of the West—including some great roads such as the Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park in Montana, the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper in Canada, and the Pacific Coast Highway from the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington south to San Diego, California, exploring National Parks, family and friends across the West. In a nutshell, quality time with my son doing something we both enjoy—driving.
I am a lifelong lover of road trips, nature and wilderness and a passionate advocate for clean energy and sustainability. Doing a road trip while spewing greenhouse gasses (GHG) is not my idea of sustainable travel. But now we have choices. I took delivery of Tesla’s new Model 3 on February 8 of 2018. This will be our road trip vehicle. It is an extended range model promising 310 miles of range and our trip will be carbon neutral.
Beginning July 1, our route will take us from our home in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area north and a bit east to Farmington, New Mexico, and then up through Colorado with night stays in Durango, Telluride, Aspen, and Boulder, then to Park City, Utah up through Wyoming (Jackson and Yellowstone National Park) to Whitefish, Montana, through Glacier National Park (Going-to-the-Sun Road) and across the border to Alberta, Canada (Banff National Park and the Icefields Parkway to Jasper National Park), then southwest through British Columbia to Whistler and Vancouver, south to Whidbey Island and Seattle, then to Port Townshend on the Olympic Peninsula, counter-clockwise around Olympic National Park to the coast and then south along the Oregon and California coasts all the way to San Diego and then back home on the 31st of July—about 6,000 miles in 31 days.
In January of 2018 as I was planning this road trip, it occurred to me that I could also use the journey as an opportunity to promote clean energy and electric motoring and I began looking for appropriate partners/beneficiaries for the effort. I reached out to a handful of ASU sustainability professors and all urged me to find an organization that I could tie to my own sustainability story.
Ultimately, I chose the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, where I currently serve as President of the School’s alumni chapter.
Founded by Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, two of the authors of Natural Capitalism, a book I had read on a whim in 1999 that got me thinking about bringing sustainability into my business, RMI is climate action on a macro scale. The Rocky Mountain Institute, “engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. (They) employ rigorous research, analysis, and whole-systems expertise to develop breakthrough insights. (They) then convene and collaborate with diverse partners—business, government, academic, nonprofit, philanthropic, and military—to accelerate and scale solutions.”
Established in 2006, the mission of ASU’s School of Sustainability is to “educate a new generation of scholars and practitioners and create innovative modes of scholarship by bringing together leaders, stakeholders, and people from multiple disciplines to develop practical solutions to the most pressing sustainability challenges.”
This dimension of the trip will add data collection, events with RMI supporters, ASU alums, partner organizations, Tesla owners and other EV Enthusiasts; and also online interactivity on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, daily blogging, podcasts, and email and our Tesla Model 3 ER will sport a custom wrap promoting clean energy, electric motoring, RMI, sponsors and other beneficiaries.
“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” – Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
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