The folks at Piedmont Biofuels may have got in trouble with some for their use of chicken fat in biodiesel, but the latest idea they are helping to promote should prove less controversial — the Tuscany Day. As Lyle Estill explains in this blog post, the idea was dreamed up by a friend of the co-op, Janice, and is named after her imaginary view of Tuscany:
"I'm not sure Janice has ever been to Tuscany. I haven't. But she has a concept that in Tuscany nobody drives anywhere. Everyone just walks around and enjoys good food and drink with their neighbors. At one point, Janice played with the idea of walking around the neighborhood on Tuscany Day, pulling the keys out of everyone's ignitions.
In our family Tuscany Day has been distilled down to a day without cars. Which takes some planning. Which is not what we are good at. I charged into 2008 with the idea that I would rack up 50 Tuscany Days over the year. That's hard to do. Today was number 8 in the eighth week of the year, which puts me back on track."
Now this author has been to Tuscany many years ago, and seems to remember a fair amount of cars whizzing around. Nevertheless, the concept of a Tuscany Day certainly has merit, even if it is built on a slightly utopian view of the region — how much could we all get done if we avoided unnecessary travel, even for just one day a week? It seems Lyle did toy with the idea of ride sharing as a way to perpetuate the Tuscany Day, but somehow it didn't sit well with the spirit of the thing:
"The other day I had a consulting gig on a Sunday. A group came up from Georgia and wanted to crawl through how we set up our coop. They also wanted an Industrial tour. I walked across the creek and jumped in with them for a ride to town. I knocked out the work and caught a ride back to the house. But it didn't feel right. Riding felt as bad as driving. It made me feel like we needed to ratchet up the dogma. Just because I didn't drive, I couldn't score it as a Tuscany Day. I think I need to not be in a vehicle at all in order for it to count."
Of course Tuscany Days aren't the only weapon in Piedmont Biofuels' armory when it comes to their efforts to support a local, energy efficient economy — check out their other shenanigans from soap making to community supported agriculture.
[Disclaimer: This author has just purchased a diesel vehicle and is in the process of becoming a member of Piedmont Biofuels. He is not actively involved in their operations.]
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