The Black Car Project!

November 24, 2007

Alumni Magazine and Ecuador

The Black Car Collective made it into Evergreen Alumni Magazine! I am in Ecuador right now so I have no idea what it says however I am grateful for the exposure. Many people are commenting as well with a diversity of opinions some positive, some negative. I would like to respond to both by asking the people who comment to respond to the other comments they disagree with and e-mail me with specific questions. My e-mail is

Ecuador is an interesting example of car culture. Cars are very much wanted by the local population but are obviously expensive. They don´t have the education to reject cars for the negative social and environmental impacts. In Ecuador owning a car is a serious advantage in short term economic and social terms which is extremely important when minimum wage is $170 a month. Fortunately because cars are expensive buses go absolutely everywhere and often. Quito has several amazing Rapid Bus Transit and trolley systems as well as the surface bus transit. Outside of the main cities buses remain super abundant traveling down dirt roads to towns of all sizes. Of course if Ecuadorians weren´t priced out of owning cars then the bus system would surely die out.

I´ve heard that real consumption change will happen in the US when the price of crude will reach $250 per barrel. Unfortunately government subsidies of oil as well as exaggeration of oil reserves can prevent the gradual transition away from fossil fuels and instead force an eventual crash. This is of no concern for oil companies because short term profits are always better then long term stability of the nation and world.

Back to my myopic little project. Economically I would have been better off to just keep driving it. The next economically best option would be to sell it. My prospects for work diminished a great deal because of my smaller commuting area as well. Obviously this project makes no sense economically but honestly nothing economic makes any damn sense to me. Several things have improved in my life. I am healthier because I walk and bike more and am less likely to die in a car accident. I know my community better having explored every street and browsed many of the businesses. Beyond that I feel good mentally, which is so valuable in this crazy world.

I am incredibly wealthy in Ecuador. It makes me sick to think about. Tourism is a huge industry here along with shipping off raw goods. Every problem I see in Ecuador seems to be directly caused by globalization. I´m not worried about the future of Ecuador. They don´t have much of an infrastructure based on oil yet. They don´t have nuclear weapons. What they do have is a strong sense of community and family. They have an abundance and capacity for high food production. They have a great climate that will always support life.

What about the US? I am worried. The northwest could be ok but what about the southwest? What about imigration to the northwest? What about the nuclear submarine base or Hanford? What about no significant public transportation? Salmon? Are we doing enough? Are we working fast enough and hard enough?

No we aren´t.