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Help Me Put Finishing Touches On My “Boots On The Ground” Journalism Setup

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TL;DR: I’m putting some finishing touches on my travel setup to chase important cleantech and outdoors stories, and need help. Details and fundraiser are here.

Earlier this year, I asked readers to help me get some gear together to make travel a lot cheaper. The cheapest way I could come up with was to use my EV to haul “glamping” gear around. The fundraiser didn’t meet the goal, but between what I did get from our amazing readers and what I pitched in myself in subsequent months was enough to build a custom trailer and take the setup on an initial shakedown cruise.

I’m very glad I didn’t jump feet first into a longer trip, because I identified several large shortcomings in my setup.

First off, it became apparent quickly that I needed better storage management. The original plan was to stack things up, put the more fragile things in hard-sided storage bins, and set up camp or a cooking area on folding tables. But, one of the storage containers buckled under the weight of a portable power station, pushed to the sides, and pushed my portable refrigerator against the door of the trailer. The result was a broken fridge and various kitchen gear strewn about the floor of the trailer!

The solution? I need an expensive 500-lb capacity drawer slide and some lumber to build a roll-out kitchen that’s guarded from the rest of the gear.

Another issue I identified was insufficient energy storage from my Jackery 3000 Pro. It’s not Jackery’s fault at all, but running air conditioning or a heat pump just takes too much power for even 800 watts of solar panels (real output is 300-500 watts, but sometimes zero) to really keep up, and this leads to even larger power stations becoming depleted in just a few hours. For that, I’m going to build a custom aerodynamically efficient enclosure on the front of the trailer and put a power inverter in it. This will then pull power from the Bolt EAV, which has plenty of energy storage for most off-grid outings.

So, I’m going to need more lumber, some wiring, and a pure sinewave inverter.

One final shortcoming comes from fast food. The original plan was to cook meals while the Bolt charged (and at 55 kW max, the Bolt will give us plenty of time). But, many charging stations have the temptation of fast food nearby, and sometimes right next to the station. Unless there’s something to quickly offer everyone to assuage their hunger, I’ll often end up shelling out for fast food instead of saving money by cooking. So, I’m hoping to also get an RV-rated microwave to install next to the little fridge.

All of this adds up to just under $1,000. Lumber isn’t as cheap as it used to be, and the other electronics and hardware all adds up, too. So, I’ve posted a fundraiser at GoFundMe to help cover these finishing touches and make the glamping setup a lot more bulletproof (figuratively speaking).

Why I’m Asking For Help With This Instead Of Waiting

It all comes down to timing. I could spend another month or two scraping some money together to do these finishing touches, but I need to hit the road a lot faster.

I can’t give full details, as some of it is under embargo, but I have an important trip a state over coming up for mid-to-late September. And, this is a couple weeks after another important trip two states over. I may be able to combine these trips to save a few more bucks and make it a longer, more productive journey, and bring back even more important content for everyone.

But, I’m going to need both time to build and test these finishing touches. So, if I don’t get the remaining funds in pretty quickly, there will be no time to actually make the improvements before the first trip.

Fortunately, I’m already over 10% of the way to the goal (as of this writing), so it shouldn’t be a big problem to get this done! Any extra funds will go toward journalistic journeys in other ways.

What Readers Will Get For Their Money (or Sharing This)

I’ve explained this before, but I wanted to share it again for new readers and people who haven’t been following my project. In a nutshell: The goal is to get out there and do more “boots on the ground” journalism for CleanTechnica.

The sad fact is that it’s easy to get information from the internet, mix it up a bit, add some important analysis, and produce an article for readers. It can sometimes be a bit time consuming and tedious, but there are plenty of important stories that start and end on the internet for us. The internet is simply that awesome!

But, the internet can’t tell every important story there is to tell, and it often can’t give us (and by extension our readers) the quality of first-hand information that can be had in person. Better stories and perspectives, testing, and even better photography all can happen by getting out there and putting boots (or, nice shoes in some cases) on the ground.

It’s also important to get out there and find new stories to tell. I’ve come across a number of stories traveling that never would have gotten on my radar at all if I had stayed home. On a long trip last year, I reviewed a new EV charging stationreviewed an EV charging adaptertried out Electrify America’s newest hardwaretested 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.

Finally, it’s good to get out there and show people that EVs, solar power, e-bikes, and other clean technology is up to the job. Early adopters of EVs (that’s us here at CleanTechnica) all know that it’s not only good enough, but often better than what came before, but the general public is still wondering if it’s going to work out for them. Both people I’ll meet on the road and people who’ll read articles here need more reassurance that cleantech is ready to serve their vital needs and even their wants.

If you’re in a position to help, I’d deeply appreciate it (you can donate here). If not, I’d appreciate sharing this just as much!

Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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