Charonne: Car Sharing Can Do!

car sharingEver thought about sharing a car?

It’s quite an alternative thought in our independent mobile society ruled by the all-powerful encroaching auto industry.

But, it can be done.

For the past three years since moving to Akron, I have been trying to keep driving expenses to a minimum all in vain by buying beater cars on Craigslist, refusing to negotiate with “specialty” wolfish auto dealers (the kind that preys on you when your credit is less than satisfactory), and footing the bill for repairs, parts, gas and insurance all on my own. Its been a struggle.

I had a few life factors working in my favor to consider car sharing.

  1. I only needed the car weekends and one or two evenings per week
  2. I had a desire and a do-able route for bicycle commuting to work and doing errands
  3. I view driving the automobile as a necessary evil over my life that I wanted to diminish.

The main hurdles that held me back:

First, an astronomical jump in insurance costs for placing one or more drivers on my policy.

WRONG! I was amazed to find out that there was a mere 3% jump in auto insurance when placing two more drivers on my policy. This may not be true of all auto insurance carriers, but it was true with e-surance. Driving records may also impact the sharing surcharge (in our case, we all had reasonable records).

Second, impossible to find someone who was on opposite driving schedule, lived in close proximity and flexible.

WRONG AGAIN! I found a myriad of drivers out there who thought the same as me and who were flexible in working out a schedule as soon as I put the word out.

So far, in the second month of operation, it’s working out okay with one other person—soon to add a third. I must admit, though, it is still a bit difficult to give up the car (as I have the lion’s share with it) when my spontaneous desire to run errands crops up and difficult weather confronts my bicycle commute.

But, hey, you can get through it…and its a great feeling!

Just remember the benefits:

  1. Feeling less helpless with less dependence on the automobile
  2. Helping the environment by using alternative transit more often
  3. Enhancing your personal community by sharing with others
  4. Planning better my consolidating errands and working out commuting schedule ahead of time.

…and, just in case you are wondering what “Charonne” means?

That’s the name of our beautiful, well-preserved trusty reliable ‘shared ’95 Toyota Camry. It’s a sexy French spin on “Sharon” (nice American female name closest to “sharing.”)

For great tips on informal car-sharing, check out this article published by Cornell Cooperative Extension:

Do-It-Yourself Carsharing

Urban Ecovillages: Future Trends Give Thumbs Up

earthsong ecovillageThe timing is right for the Akron community to step up and embrace an urban ecovillage. Sustainable elements include:  (1) Greenbuilding and rehabs, (2) urban farming, (3) Co-op retail businesses, (4) shared transit, and (5) ecoliving events, training and education.

Here are the TOP TEN reasons why the launch of an urban ecovillage in 2013 is sure to rock:

  1. The drive toward sustainable urban development: a greater focus on neighborhood efforts to integrate environmental, economic, and social responses to our current crises.   Urban Current:  A Project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States Urban & Regional Policy Program.
  2. Urban agricultural efforts have made common cause with groups concerned with healthy non-processed food.  The Nation
  3. The sustainability movement will stay on track to become the norm, rather than the exception, with greater efforts in the works to develop greener urban districts and more sustainable, low-tech urban design.  Greenbuilding Services
  4. Collaborative Consumption describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, renting and swapping—including shared landscapes, transportation and meals.–TIME names Collaborative Consumption as one of the “10 Ideas That Will Change The World.” 
  5. With the uptick of sustainable building mandates and consumer demand for  sustainability, funding and incentives for sustainable structures are becoming more readily available.  Greenbuilding Services
  6. We are becoming a nation of overachievers.  Just saving energy is now not enough. The trend is to go all the way and make homes net-zero.  Most net-zero homes achieve this designation by combining a variety of passive and active design strategies.  Buildapedia
  7. Hundreds of “social enterprises” that use profits for environmental, social or community-serving goals are expanding rapidly. New Economics Institute
  8. At the cutting edge of experimentation are the growing number of egalitarian, and often green, worker-owned cooperatives.  New Economics Institute
  9. The number of bike commuters in the USA rose by 64 percent from 1990 to 2009. University Transportation Research Center   
  10. Companies are lining up to register as B Corporations (the “B” stands for “benefit”) allowing companies to subordinate profits to social and environmental goals.  The Nation