Electric Van Dilemma


Mitsubishi Delica Camper
Mitsubishi Delica Camper

Electric Van Dilemma!

Several people recommended getting an electric vehicle for this project, so my friend Neutopia and I did some research on electric camper vans.

There are zero produced in the US…

Mitsubishi has a great electric camper, but it’s only sold in Scotland. Nissan has an electric camper, but it’s only sold in Spain. Tesla and VW have electric campers to be sold in the US… in 2022! So, currently there are NO electric vehicles available in the US from the manufacturer.

There are some great companies in the US that do electric conversions and hybrids for around $40,000. If I do it myself, a conversion is around $10,000 plus a used camper van runs about $10,000-$60,000. So on the cheap end it would be $20,000. And I’ll need to learn some electrical engineering along the way.

It might even be cheaper, better to buy a Nissan from Scotland and ship it over! Eco Explorer asks for £24,995 (around $32,625), plus shipping. With about 1,000 miles per tank might make it worth it.

No problem!

I’m surprised that there isn’t an electric camper market here in the US that they want to explore. We have a pretty avid RV culture, the retirement American dream, and #vanlife is thriving with a younger crowd too. John and Jayme of Gnomad Home has been traveling since 2017!

So, the ideal is to get an electric or hybrid van for this trip and somehow get sponsorship or grant money for it, but if I can’t raise the money or figure out the technology, I’m going to do this project regardless.

But wouldn’t it be nice to cruise around the country in an all electric or hybrid vehicle? Any suggestions on how to make that happen?

Love, Laura


Into the New Year…

mountain-road-sunsetHappy New Years!

On New Year’s Eve at my friend’s house, she ask us all to share “ what are your goals for the new year and how will you pursue them”.

What are my goals? I looked around the group gathered around the dining room table, and explained, “I plan to go In Search of the Great America, traveling in a mobile radio lab, to all 48 states, then flying to HI and AK. I’m going to ask people, ‘where did you grow up and what was it like, was there a time in history when America was great, what’s great about now for you, what’s your great America in the future, and who are we when we are at our best.’ 93 cities in 108 days. I know, I’m crazy! Frankly, I’m intimidated by my own ambition…”

It’s true, I am intimidated by how scope and scale of this project. It is going to be a lot of hard work and has so many moving parts. May feels like it is just around the corner… I have 5 months to raise money, get a vehicle, organize volunteers, get the word out and outfit the mobile radio lab for living and recording the journey. But I am also so excited to hear what people will say, how they will answer these questions. We live in such a diverse country, not just socio-economically and racially, but the land itself: rocky mountains, deserts, grassy plains, sandy beaches, lakes, grand cities, tiny towns, and forests of every kind. I can’t wait to start the adventure and look forward to what my videographers will capture of this vast and amazing land.

How I will pursue my goal? From now until October, my life will revolve around In Search of the Great America. I plan to spend 5-8 hours a day organizing this project, and collaborate with my community to make it happen. I been writing grants, and want to share part of them here. Whether or not I get any grants, writing them is a great way to solidify my ideas. There were two important questions that helped me think about this project… so I thought I’d share my answers here.

What are your goals with this project?

Every aspect of In Search of the Great America is community driven and interactive. Its motivation, conception, planning, and execution are founded on the power of public engagement and collective visioning.

When Donald Trump said, “Make America great again,” I wondered, ‘What great America? For whom? When was America great? What’s already great about now?’ It felt that these were important questions and could best be answered by talking to a lot of people from diverse backgrounds.

Outside the framework of politics and media, everyone has their own definition of a great America: past, present and future. This project is committed to giving voice to hundreds of people’s hopes and dreams for a Great America.

To make this happen, the project will set up in public spaces with the help of local community organizations. It is free and open to the public both online and in person and actively invites participation though the on-location interviews, on-the-road videographers, website submissions, weekly podcasts and videos, and community volunteers.

My role in this project is to inspire excitement and participation, but then to hand over control of the actual sights and sounds of the artwork. Everything you see and hear will be created by the public. The artist is only there to facilitate the experience, so the artwork can take on a life of its own and live on in the community after the vehicle hits the road again.

How is your project or program interactive?
Audience participation is the backbone of this project. In Search of the Great America exists only through the participant’s thoughts, words and vision.

The public can experience In Search of the Great America in five ways: participating in the interviews, listening to the podcast, joining the artist for a stretch of road as a videographer, watching the community produced on-the-road videos, or by hosting the mobile radio lab in their driveway.

The heart of this project is the interviews. Each guest will answer the same questions, “Where did you grow up and what was it like? Was there a time in history that you thought America was great and why? What is great about America now for you? What does your great America look like in the future? Who are we when we are at our best?”

An intimate, non-judgmental environment is the most important part of a good interview. This project was designed to make people excited about the topic and comfortable in expressing themselves. My biggest skill as a performance artist is helping people feel comfortable and confident enough to talk openly. I believe that everyone has a story to tell and every story is important.

To encourage participation, there will be a home team devoted to contacting libraries, media outlets, civic centers and community organizations. They will ask for suggestions of people to interview and to help promote the project in the community. The team will also use social media for community outreach. To ensure spontaneity and diversity of guests, I will encourage people to participate on the spot as well.

The call for volunteer videographers will begin in March. Anyone can volunteer to be a videographer, from professional videographers to friends, family members, and interested parties. The only qualification is excitement for the project and the ability to produce and post a short video. The equipment is at their discretion. It can be professional cameras or a simple cell phone. Each volunteer will join the adventure for 1-3 weeks and produce a 5-10 minute video each week. These will include scenery from the road, short interviews with people met along the way, interviews with the podcast host and audio clips from that week.

Another important way to participate is to listen to the stories on the podcast and to watch the on-the-road videos. This is a simple and easy way to enjoy the adventure from home or office. Listeners will be invited to post their own story on the website or even volunteer to come document a stretch of road.

In addition to RV parks and Walmart parking lots, Boondockers Welcome has a great website for finding places to park an RV in someone’s driveway. But no matter where I stay for the night, the In Search of the Great America signage on the vehicle and my custom designed uniform will spark conversations and invite people to think about the topic and maybe give in an interview. More often than not, these moments of serendipity end up being the best part of an epic road trip.

Thank you for your interest!
Happy New Year to you all and thank you for your interest in this project. I hope In Search of the Great America captures some of your hopes and dreams for the new year.

May this new year bring you exciting new adventures.

Love, Laura

Working on the Route!

TOTAL 14,548 Miles… 93 Cities… 112 Days!!!
This is the preliminary route for my cross country journey in mobile radio lab, In Search of the Great America. I plan to visit all 48 contiguous states, asking people to define their Great America, past, present and future.

In Search of the Great America Phoenix to Fargo

The Preliminary Route

AZ – Phoenix, May 16
AZ – Show Low, May 17, 180 mi
NM – Albuquerque, May 18, 243 mi
NM – Springer, May 19, 190 mi
CO – Pueblo, May 20, 146 mi
CO – Denver, May 21, 116 mi
WY – Cheyenne, May 22 102 mi
WY – Lander, May 23, 272 mi
*****BREAK DAY, May 24, Tally 1249 mi
UT – Salt Lake City, May 25, 278 mi
UT – Cedar City, May 26, 252 mi
NV – Caliente, May 27, 140 mi
NV – Las Vegas, May 28, 109 mi
CA – Los Angeles, May 29, 270 mi
CA – San Francisco, May 30, 283 mi
CA – Mt Shasta, May 31, 275 mi
*****BREAK DAY, June 1, Tally 1607 mi
OR – Roseburg, June 2, 184 mi
OR – Portland, June 3, 176 mi
WA – Seattle, June 4, 174 mi
WA – Kennewick, June 5, 213 mi
ID – Boise, June 6, 289 mi
ID – Lidy Hot Springs, June 7, 248 mi
*****BREAK DAY, June 8, Tally 1284 mi
MT – Billings, June 9, 364 mi
MT – Baker, June 10, 222 mi
ND – Steele, June 11, 254 mi
ND – Fargo, June 12, 153 mi

In Search of the Great America Fargo to Little Rock

SD – De Smet, June 13, 203 mi
SD – Sioux Falls, June 14, 97 mi
*****BREAK DAY June 15, 1093 mi
MN – St James, June 16, 119 mi
MN – Minneapolis, June 17, 118 mi
WI – Wisconsin Dells, June 18, 216 mi
WI – Milwaukee, June 19, 122 mi
IL – Chicago, June 20, 92 mi
IL – Galena, June 21, 164 mi
*****BREAK DAY, June 22, 831 mi
IA – Waterloo, June 23, 106 mi
IA – Des Moines, June 24, 111 mi
NE – Omaha, June 25, 134 mi
NE – Aurora, June 26, 127 mi
MO – Kansas City, June 27, 276 mi
MO – Nevada, June 28, 94 mi
*****BREAK DAY, June 29, 848 mi
KS – Fredonia, June 30, 100 mi
KS – Wichita, July 1, 88 mi
OK – Oklahoma City, July 2, 161 mi
OK – Ardmore, July 3, 99 mi
TX – West, July 4, 173 mi
TX – Houston, July 5, 198 mi
LA – Lafayette, July 6, 217 mi
*****BREAK DAY, July 7, 1036 mi
LA – New Orleans July 8, 135 mi
MS – Jackson, July 9, 187 mi
MS – Cleveland, July 10, 121 mi
AR – Little Rock, July 11, 184 mi

In Search of the Great America Little Rock to Boston

AR – Forest City, July 12, 93 mi
TN – Jackson, July 13, 133 mi
*****BREAK DAY, July 14, 853 mi
TN – Nashville, July 15, 129 mi
AL – Mooresville, July 16, 113 mi
*****PERSONAL TIME, July 17-21
AL – Birmingham, July 22, 83 mi
GA – Atlanta, July 23, 147 mi
GA – Tifton, July 24, 181 mi
FL – Crystal River, July 25, 283 mi
FL – Jacksonville, July 26, 256 mi
*****BREAK DAY, July 27, 1192 mi
SC – Charleston, July 28, 238 mi
SC – Georgetown, July 29, 61 mi
NC – Charlotte, July 30, 178 mi
NC – Bath, July 31, 289 mi
VA – Virginia Beach, Aug 1, 132 mi
VA – Culpeper, Aug 2, 189 mi
DC – Washington, Aug 3, 71 mi
*****BREAK DAY, Aug 4, 1158 mi
MD – Baltimore, Aug 5, 39 mi
MD – Ocean City, Aug 6, 147 mi
DE – Wilmington, Aug 7, 119 mi
PA – Philadelphia, Aug 8, 32 mi
NJ – Newark, Aug 9, 86 mi
NY – New York City, Aug 10, 11 mi
CT – Bridgeport, Aug 11, 62 mi
*****BREAK DAY, Aug 12, 496 mi
RI – Providence, Aug 13, 120 mi
MA – Boston, Aug 14, 59 mi

In Search of the Great America Boston to Pentwater

ME – Portland, Aug 15 112 mi
ME – Rangeley, Aug 16 131 mi
NH – Campton, Aug 17 142 mi
NH – Manchester, Aug 18 66 mi
*****BREAK DAY, Aug 19 630 mi
VT – Chester, Aug 20 88 mi
VT – Burlington, Aug 21 134 mi
NY – Skaneateles, Aug 22 249 mi
PA – Ridgway, Aug 23 211 mi
OH – Chagrin Falls, Aug 24 170 mi
OH – Columbus, Aug 25 146 mi
*****BREAK DAY, Aug 26 998 mi
WV – Buckhannon, Aug 27 220 mi
WV – Charleston, Aug 28 113 mi
KY – Pikeville, Aug 29 108 mi
KY – Louisville, Aug 30 214 mi
IN – Indianapolis, Aug 31 114 mi
IN – West Lafayette, Sept 1 68 mi
*****BREAK DAY, Sept 2 837 mi
MI – Detroit, Sept 3 278 mi
MI – Grand Rapids, Sept 4 158 mi
*****BREAK DAY, Sept 5, 436 mi
TOTAL 14,548 Miles… 93 Cities… 112 Days!!!

I will start in Arizona, where I live, and end in Michigan, where I grew up, I am very interested in notions of home and how they determine our world view. The first question I’ll ask each participant in this project is “Where did you grow up and what was it like growing up there.”  Also, where you grew up says a lot about who you are now.

The Podcast Questions:
-Where did you grow up and what was it like?
-Was there a time in history that you thought America was great and why?
-What is great about America now for you?
-What does your great America look like in the future?
-Who are we when we are at our best?