In this article, I’m going to share an important project I’m working on that could bring more equity and quality to my cleantech news coverage. All of the details are below. If you like what you’re seeing, please consider donating to support it here and share it on social media!
The Stories That Don’t Get Told
If you follow my work here at CleanTechnica, you probably notice a mix of original articles and trip logs combined with stories that obviously came from the internet somewhere. Stories that come from social media, old school internet forums, and press releases often have something important to say, but you might find yourself wishing we’d get out there more and see more of this stuff in person, and try to get more original content to go with the basic information.
Sadly, there are financial reasons that many cool cleantech stories fall through the cracks and don’t get the love they probably deserve. Often, the cost of gas, hotels, and eating at restaurants for days at a time is just far bigger than what we’d get back in revenue and writer pay (and faster things like air travel are even further from profitability). This means that big companies that can afford to pay for journalists’ travel and hotel for their biggest stories and product launches get in-depth coverage. Every other story that deserves to be told often has to rely on remote communication, like shooting the company an email, scheduling a call (which can get very time consuming), or maybe attending a Zoom meeting.
Despite these challenges, I do try to get original, in-person stories as much as I realistically can. On a long trip last year, I reviewed a new EV charging station, reviewed an EV charging adapter, tried out Electrify America’s newest hardware, tested a set of tires, and learned something important that could save lives. This wasn’t a profitable trip even staying at Motel 6 and eating cheap fast food that irritated my guts, but I still think this kind of work is too important to just never do.
Plus, even if these awesome stories justified travel expenses, it’s not right for us to advocate for doing right by the environment and then go around driving gas-powered cars or flying on jet planes to do it. We need to be using the cleanest alternatives available, so I think traveling to do these things in an EV is the responsible and non-hypocritical thing to do.
Speaking of alternatives, reviews for things like solar generators, e-bikes, and scooters also don’t get the love they could be getting. We’d love to take every e-bike out to Moab, charge it with a solar generator, and give it all the best testing, but most of the time these things get reviewed in our yards and on local bike paths/trails. We need to get out there more and help readers really see what’s possible.
I’ve been working for the last couple of years to fix this problem for good, but I’m going to need your help to get over the finish line to get this going in 2023.
What We Have Gathered So Far & What We Still Need
This is something I’ve been working on for years, and you may have seen some big fundraising asks during that time that (probably rightfully) went nowhere. The plan has always been to use an EV and tow either a small RV or a small trailer loaded with “glamping” supplies to serve as a home base when covering cleantech news in an area. In other words, we’re looking to build a mobile newsroom!
This approach has some big upfront costs (especially an EV that can tow), but the end result is a very clean mobile operation (all electric, with a lot of solar power) that doesn’t cost me much more than staying home going forward. By going to RV parks, state parks, and even camping for free on public lands, nearly any important cleantech story or amazing product review is within financial reach.
With some hard work and careful planning, over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to get most of this covered by myself. So far, I’ve already gathered up:
- The EV tow vehicle (my Bolt “EAV”), hitch installed, and airbags (to minimize squat) ready to install
- A portable 1200-watt solar power station, along with several smaller ones
- A portable electric heater and air conditioner that can run on solar power or from my Bolt
- Two Shiftpod Mini insulated shelters, several beds, and various other camping gear
- A standard-size shiftpod to serve as the mobile newsroom
- A compact shower/toilet tent
- Various tarps
- A portable electric refrigerator that we’ll power with solar is on the way.
As you can see, I’ve got most of the gear for this together, but when I was about to buy the last few things from this year’s tax return, we had several family emergencies in a row. We had a dog suddenly get very ill and needed to be put down. We had a big water leak open up in the house that needed a repair that we couldn’t put off. Finally, we had an extended family member go into hospice care. As responsible parents, we took care of all this, but this wiped out not only the business money we had set aside, but a good chunk of our savings.
This means that without your help, plans to aggressively cover rural cleantech stories and do amazing product reviews are probably on hold until next summer. So, I figured I’d ask readers and fans to help me gather up the following items to get us on the road:
I’m using Indiegogo (a crowdfunding platform) to raise the funds for this project (you can find it here).
If we don’t meet the goal, all funds will go toward at least some of these items. I may use cheaper alternatives for some of them and do without others for now, but I’ll probably have to use some propane that I had hoped to avoid. If we exceed the goal, any excess funds will be used for further improvements to the cargo trailer (built-in solar is a good example) or for trip costs (fast charging fees, campground fees, meals, etc).
Thanks for your time reading all of this! If this sounds like a project you think is worth supporting, please consider donating whatever’s comfortable here, and be sure to share it on social media so that others will have a chance to help.
Featured image: My Bolt “EAV” at a scenic vista in New Mexico. Image by Jennifer Sensiba.
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