Sometimes, ‘leadership’ is a word too big for its meaning, since leadership can manifest itself in the little actions. Sometimes, ‘leadership’ is a word too small for its meaning, because even if it might be a little action, its effect can be huge. ‘Leadership’ is not only for politicians, CEOs and visionaries. It starts with every one of us. It means to take on responsibility, for something small or something big. It means to take on responsibility for our actions, to act like somebody you yourself would look up to, and the majority would want to follow and copy. And it has nothing to do with what is popular, but all to do with doing what is right. It can be as trivial as deciding to not throw garbage out the car window; or as big as starting a new car company from scratch that is revolutionizing not only the car industry. ‘Leadership’ is something that we owe to ourselves, to fellow humans, to the planet, and to future generations.

teslaxcanada-2And this is, how my husband Rolf and I, Silke, ended up doing something that maybe might deserve being called ‘leadership’:

Having switched to a fully electric car in 2014, adding solar panels to the house roof and a second fully electric car in 2015, it was time to replace our gas-powered motorhome. There was no way we would ever spend any money again for another gas car, motorhome or other vehicle. Having done the switch to fully electric mobility has changed us in more ways than we would have anticipated.

Travelling and camping across Canada had been on our bucket list for a very long time. We love the people, the nature, the country, it’s our home of choice, having immigrated from Germany. We are proud to be Canadians now.

When we realized that a Tesla Model X can tow up to 5,000lbs, it dawned on us that this is how we could make our dream come true, the dream of crossing Canada WITHOUT having to rely on a gas towing vehicle. At that point, we also realized that we would extremely likely be the first ones to do such a thing. Canada has been crossed many, many times in electric vehicles, but never while towing a camping trailer. There simply had never been an electric vehicle on the market that had this kind of towing capability. Considering that we knew we would be the first, plus the fact that switching to a fully electric car had slowly changed us into people who truly became aware of environmental issues and their possible solutions, AND the fact that actions are now more urgently needed than ever before, my husband and I decided to use our cross Canada vacation in 2016 to promote sustainable energy and transportation. Our hope was that, by doing something that was a ‘first’, that was not yet ‘easy to do’, that was slightly different from the ‘norm’, we would be able to raise enough awareness to make others at least start considering solar energy and electric cars as true alternatives to the status quo. So, in June 2016, we set out on our three months adventure with our fully electric Tesla Model X and our SafariCondo Alto R1723 camping trailer, which had 800W of solar panels fixed to its roof. Our strategy was to have the camping trailer with its electric fridge, induction cooktop, etc. powered by solar energy, while the car would be plugged in for charging. It has been the most amazing three months of our lives, with all its challenges, frustrations, excitements and everything else that went with it.

teslaxcanada-1The most amazing thing, something that we had not expected at all, was to meet all those other ‘leaders’, all those individuals that had taken up responsibility for themselves AND others – already long before us. There is Kent Rathwell who we met in Saskatchewan, the founder of Sun Country Highway, the electric car charging network that lets you drive, fully electric, from Victoria BC to St. John’s NL. He did this, and much more, to ensure transportation becomes sustainable.

There is Sylvain Juteau who we met in Quebec, the founder of Roulez Electrique, an EV Charging Station concept, that not only lets you charge any electric car even in the luxury of a heated indoor garage, but also offers advice, information, coffee, a place to have your own lunch, do business, have an afternoon snooze, rent electric bikes and even try out electric cars. He did that to ensure his three kids will have a healthy world to live in.

There is Joshua Green, a young guy we met in Newfoundland, who took it upon himself to organize the means and the location for a much-needed electric car charger in the middle of the island. He did this because nobody else did.

And there were so many more, Onanole Campground that gets its power from solar, Ian who is raising money for electric car associations by selling T-shirts online, Peavey Mart that is proud to be powered by renewables and offers electric car charging at most of their stores.

And that is far from all and it is only what we came across in Canada. There are so many other amazing examples of true leadership we have come across these past few months, online or in person, and I apologize that I cannot possibly mention all of them here.

teslaxcanada-4After this trip, we can now comfortably claim that crossing Canada in an electric car is not only doable, it is fun. True, there is still much that could be done to improve the experience, but if we could cross Canada in a fully electric car with camping trailer, then, for sure, fully electric cars are a true alternative for mostly local traffic. We can now comfortably claim that every two-car household could easily rely on at least one fully electric car. And we can now also comfortably claim that solar energy and other renewable energy sources are the way of the future. They have to be, since other sources of energy are not sustainable. And this is what it all comes down to: We owe it to future generations to live a sustainable life. We owe it to future generations that they will receive a world from us that is at least as good and functional as the world we got. At this point, it unfortunately looks like we are going to fail what we believe is crucial leadership. Our biggest hope is that we will not be the last generation that could have changed something, but did not. We call out to every individual to become a leader in some way and to lead this planet and all of our futures into the right direction. NOW!

Rolf Oetter
Silke Sommerfeld

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