Georgia’s Appalachian past illuminates our EV future

Hi! I’m Dorrier Coleman, the CTO of TEQ Charging.  We do some very exciting things to bring EV chargers everywhere and make EV’s a smart option for everyone.  You can check out some of the details on this site.  

But I don’t want to talk about technology in this blog post.  Don’t worry, if you’re in to that I’m still a Georgia Tech Computer Engineer, and it’s hard to get me to shut up about it most days.  But all technology, even the coolest, is a tool- a means to an end.  The world’s most awesome bridge is still primarily awesome because it gets you from one end to the other.  I want to share what I’ve seen about where we are, and why I’m excited about where we can go.  

There’s a perception, correct or not, that EV drivers are a certain kind of person.  Perhaps a person with certain kinds of disposable income and certain political views.  Maybe you associate that person with the people around my office in Ponce City Market in Atlanta.  So let’s get out of there and away from that stereotype.  In fact, let’s go all the way up 85 and 985 and then a ways up 441 to Clayton, Georgia.

Why Clayton?  You might not know it, but Clayton Georgia has changed the world and is about to do it again.  There’s two things you should know about Clayton and its just to the north neighbors of Mountain City and Rabun Gap, Georgia.  First, it’s breathtakingly beautiful and people have been visiting for hundreds of years to see the colorful forests and majestic fog shrouded foothills of the Smoky Mountains.  If you’re like me and love a good hike, Blackrock Mountain State Park and Tallulah Gorge are exquisite reminders of natures power and serenity.  

Second, the people there radically altered the way the world views the action of recording history.  See, in 1966 an English Class at the Rabun Gap Nacoochee School started publishing a magazine called Foxfire where they recorded the ways and means of life in their Appalachian community.  That magazine is responsible for some remarkable things- they’re the only extant source on an Appalachian dialect and the only recording of the practice of wagon making in the region.  This community, because it believed in the worth of its history and culture, saved from the burying sands of time a wealth of things that traditional historians would not have gotten to saving but now use.  

That magazine is a remarkable accomplishment in itself.  But the world noticed.  You might recall the effort to record the voices and recollections of World War II veterans before they leave this earth.  Community and Oral history offer the chance both to preserve more and to allow communities to decide for themselves what culture and history is important.  

You should be very proud of the Foxfire Magazine.  It demonstrates what I believe to be true: this state  has such strength and its people such ingenuity that when we create a good solution, the world follows us.  There’s plenty of words for carbonated beverages across different parts of the United States, but the one word of English perhaps most known all around the world is decidedly Georgian: Coke.  

I talk about Foxfire because the Foxfire Museum taught me something important about where we’ve been and where we are.  The particular ways of building a plough or a house in Appalachia served to allow a community to live and thrive in a place where the wider world’s methods did not work.  It was just too expensive to buy nails and ship them to Rabun County, so they built their houses a different way.  That’s an important lesson in the nature of technology.  They altered their tools so that they could live a better life based on what the mountains around them made available.  

Just a little ways south of the turnoff for the Foxfire Museum there’s the Tallulah Gorge State Park.  It’s a wonderful view from the hike around the rim or a heck of a climb down into the gorge.  I was going there recently (for the easy hike) when I saw something very interesting just a bit away in Clayton: an EV charging sign.  That made me reflect a little.  

See, when the TVA brought electricity to the area, they didn’t import a one size fits all generation method.  In fact, they saw the electrical implication of what strikes the hikers in those state parks: these mountains are powerful.  In this case, the power comes from the energy of water falling from a higher to a lower level.  So the Army Corps of Engineers dammed rivers and created hydroelectric power plants like the Tallulah Gorge Dam.  How cool, I thought, that you can charge your car with electrons from the Gorge?

It is meet and seemly to drive around on the power of the state that God created and that our grandfathers’ labor made available.  That’s why I’m so excited about where technology can take us.  An Electric Vehicle is a lot like the Appalachian cabin- it allows us to have more because it takes advantage of the resources right beside us instead of relying on the expense of importing outside solutions.  When you drive to work and school on the power of the Tallulah Gorge it’s not only cheaper, but your discretionary income becomes immune to the vagaries of the price of oil.  

That savings means something to a city boy like me.  In means something else in places where a living is harder to make than a trendy startup office.  In the weeks ahead I’d like to highlight some other places in this state where Electric Vehicles are making a difference.  Some places get their power from coal, gas, or nuclear plants.  Each place has its own strength and its own story.  At TEQ we care about those stories because our technology is all about converting those strengths into health and wealth for the people.  The world needs a solution for Electric Vehicle charging, and we think its time they heard from the State of Georgia again.