Too often, we Oregonians take our state for granted. We focus on what our Pacific Wonderland lacks rather than feeling appreciative for the oh-so-special nature of Oregon.
Every time I fly back to Portland from some flat, brown, fir-tree-lacking part of the country, and a Mt. Hood panorama fills the airplane window, I think Wow! I'm so fortunate to live here.
The past few days some car-related conversations helped reinforce that feeling.
Last night we had dinner with some friends. I mentioned how Laurel and I had recently bought a Nissan Leaf, the first 100% electric car offering from a major manufacturer. (Our 2007 Prius Touring is for sale -- great deal.)
A guy who I don't see too often pulled out his iPhone and clicked away on it, then leaned over to show me his own new electric "baby."
A Model S Tesla -- 300 mile range, 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds. He'd put down a $5,000 deposit on a car that will be produced in 2012. Way cool. He didn't even know what Oregon dealer -- almost certainly one in Portland -- will be handling the Tesla.
He just knew that he wanted one. I couldn't blame him. The Tesla is about twice as spendy as our $35,000 Leaf (before $9,000 in tax credits), but it also will have more than twice the range and be almost twice as fast.
In Oregon, as in Hollywood, electric cars are trendy. Our sensibilities are much Greener than the nation as a whole. In this state it's much easier to do the right thing for our excessively warming planet and go electric.
Take a look at The EV Project map of the six states (Oregon is one) plus D.C. taking part in a stimulus-funded effort to support electric car charging infrastructure. Eighteen cities are involved; four are in Oregon -- Portland, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene. Washington state only has one city; California, three.
Oregon is a renewable energy wonderland, a still-evolving sustainable paradise. Yes, we have a long ways to go before our state has lowered its carbon emissions to a truly desirable level. We're way ahead of most other states, though.
As evidenced by another car conversation I had this evening at a Tai Chi class potluck. One of my fellow students recently acquired a used Honda Insight, the original hyper-mileing hybrid. She and her husband said it can get 70 mpg, even more if it's in a good mood (and headed downhill, I assume).
Another of our friends bought a new green Insight when it first came on the market back in 2000. Two seats, manual transmission, no AC (I believe) -- but Earth-friendly. Such is the stuff a pleasingly large percentage of Oregonians are made of: commitment to preserving the environment in a highly livable state for our children and grandchildren.
Whenever I get depressed about where the United States is heading, which often seems nowhere but down with all the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. these days, I turn my thoughts close to home, to Oregon.
This state is leading the Green way in many areas: sustainability, renewable energy, electric car infrastructure, fostering a bicycle-friendly culture, organic farming. Even if the rest of the country goes to pot, Oregon can be a environmental beacon (along with possibly going to pot in its own fashion).