Thursday, September 18, 2014

life update

Back in June, I shared the exciting news that I'm starting a PhD in Environmental Studies at Antioch University of New England, and that I'd be moving with my family to New Hampshire.

Electric Vehicle charging station
at Antioch University of New England
Well, the first part of that sentence is still correct, but we decided to stay in Oregon. I'm commuting back and forth for school, which is a low-residency program, so I only have to be there one weekend a month for the first year, then a couple times a semester next year, and once a semester or so for the years after that. I love the program and I'm so happy with my choice! Commuting back and forth has the difficulty of causing lots of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, which is problematic, especially for a degree in environmental studies. Some airlines are now providing the option to buy carbon offsets in programs they're working with, so basically what this amounts to is a voluntary carbon tax. I wish it were incorporated into the airline fees, but this is better than nothing! Here is United's carbon offset program.

We decided to stay in Oregon for a number of reasons, including our family and community here, our desire to be in the Northwest after I'm done with school, and a sense of stability for our kids. We also found it really difficult to find a place to live that was affordable, walk/bike friendly, and where we could plug in our electric car. There are now two electric vehicle charging stations in Keene, NH, one at the Nissan dealership and one at Antioch University of New England. It's great that there are two, but they're both trickle charge stations, meaning it would take upwards of 12 hours for a full charge. If we didn't live close enough to leave it there all the time, we would have a hard time using our car! Here in the Northwest, we have what's been dubbed the "West Coast Green Highway," with charging stations all along the I-5 corridor, and even reaching to central Oregon and the Oregon coast.

Another reason for staying in Oregon was housing. First, our house was having a hard time selling, and we really like our house (mainly the yard). Also, affordable housing in Keene is run by the Keene Housing Authority, which in theory is a great idea: they help people find housing, and they are able to subsidize the costs for those who can't afford the full price. But many places in the Keene area would ONLY work with the Keene Housing Authority, and I called them and there's a 1-2 year waiting list for finding a place to live, even if you can pay the full price. Therefore, we couldn't live in most of the apartment buildings in Keene for the next year or two (the length of time we need to live there, ironically). This seemed like a very strange arrangement.

Finally, the very best reason to stay in Oregon (besides the lack of ticks carrying Lyme disease) is being rooted in our bioregion and our community. If I'm going to school to learn about how to more deeply care for the environment and how to create connected communities, why would I go anywhere other than the Pacific Northwest to practice this kind of environmental, justice-oriented, community-based, holistic care for the Earth? Unfortunately, there aren't any PhD programs of a similar thrust here in the Northwest, so I have to go to New England for the actual program, but at least I can stay rooted in my community, and put what I'm learning into practice in the place where my heart resides.


RantWoman said...

THANK YOU for the story and the whys of all your decision.

This month in Meeting for Business at University Meeting in WA we were talking about how to translate a statement from a large number of Quaker organizations about climate change into actions that our statewide Quaker lobby group can ask the WA state legislature to take action about.

One person brought up a great program to support solar retrofit and conservation related house upgrades.

I know that WA currently finances a lot of road construction with gas taxes and there is currently no provision to help electric car users pay for roads. So what are we called to...?

So this is why it matters also to hear that electric cars need recharging stations and...

Cherice Bock said...

Thanks, Rant Woman! Yes, I think it's perfectly great to think about how to tax electric vehicles in place of a gas tax, EXCEPT for the fact that I think gas should be taxed extra high so that people won't use it, and if they do, a bunch of that money should go toward cleaning up the air and everything else that gets messed up on the planet due to our use of fossil fuels (e.g., oil spills). Right now, since driving an electric car is rather inconvenient because you have to charge a lot more often than you have to fill up with gas, and you can't get everywhere because there aren't charging stations, I don't think a tax on electric vehicles is a good idea. I hope that a bunch more people will adopt the technology first, and then we can think about how to tax users so that we'll have well-kept roads.

That's great that University Meeting is working on taking climate change questions to your legislature! Great work! Let me know how it turns out.