Eissinger and Lozano: Race for the Human Race
by Kathryn Fentress
Kathryn Fentress and her husband moved to Bellingham 20 years ago for the water, trees, fresh air and mountains. She is a psychologist in private practice and believes that spirit is everything. Living in harmony with nature reflects a reverence for life. She delights in finding and meeting those people whose stories so inspire all of us.
Adrian Eissinger and Gabriel Lozano are the founding partners of Z.E.R.O., the Zero Emissions Racing Organization. Their goal is to “proliferate a unifying vision based from the intuitive notion that we deserve to live as a healthy, vibrant populace that inhabits a flourishing and productive planet.” They believe this “can be done by partnering with those who support responsible and sustainable innovation, education, and cooperating.” Most of the interview below is a combination of both partners sharing their ideas. They do a beautiful job of moving back and forth so smoothly that it would be awkward to break up the flow to indicate a change in voice. They are planning the first Formula SAE series of electric car races in Washington State as the main attraction for an international symposium on sustainability known as ECOWEEK.
Kathryn: Please tell us a bit of your personal story.
Adrian: I was born and raised in Ferndale on my grandfather’s farm. I have always been into electric cars, always been a motor head. Growing up we were always making things, very hands-on. I was in 8th grade when we did a tour of the Vehicle Research Center at WWU and I fell in love with the program. After attending Running Start at Whatcom Community College, I attended WWU and, while I was there, helped build Viking 45 for the Progressive Automotive X-Prize. This year is the 40th anniversary of the VRI and a friend suggested an electric car race to celebrate. Soon after I met Gabriel, we made an immediate connection and developed a plan to make this race a reality.
Gabriel: I am originally from the Bay area, but I’ve been here so long now I consider myself a Bellinghamster. I did not proliferate in the public school system so I took responsibility for my own education at fifteen. From an early age, I realized I wanted to cultivate something to save the planet. Eventually, I built a company called Good Green Earth Builders and Maintenance, with the intention to be the first certified ‘Green” building company in the area. I built the company for about a year, and just when I was ready to quit my regular job and go full time, I sustained a lower back injury that forced me to close the business. While I was healing from the injuries, I went back to school and earned a degree from Phoenix University in Organizational Security. I was in the midst of evaluating purchasing a business downtown when I met Adrian.
Adrian and Gabriel: We were both excited about an electric car race. We could visualize the cars racing through town and see the crowds watching and everyone having a great time. We could envision that this kind of innovation could lead to solving a lot of our environmental problems and social issues. We understand that there are a lot of groups and projects already working on new inventions and that networking these groups could get everyone to their goals so much faster. Race for the Human Race came from knowing that racing is always on the leading edge of development.
Ultimately, our thinking has to be adjusted. The way we think about our future will help determine that future. This symposium will be an educational event but also entertaining. There would be a lot of art, and kids could drive electric go-karts. If there is a Ferris wheel, it would be run on solar power. The whole conference would be ZERO waste. We have just formed a strategic partnership with the proprietors of Evergreen Speedway in Monroe. Phil and Tracy Hobbs have implemented a green program for the past 4 years. They want to be the first green raceway in the world with zero emission and zero waste. We realized, because of liability concerns, that it made more sense to have the first race be at the Speedway rather than here in town. We are now aiming for next summer or fall for the first race. This will be known as the Evergreen Gran Prix. All sustainable modalities will be represented in this annual event. We want to showcase our abilities and methodology but also attract current and future concepts. Most people are dedicated to zero waste but don’t know how to get there. Actually, the event will be more like a fair and a trade show for companies to compare and contrast and then go out and deploy these changes quickly. The networking will speed up the innovative process. Lots of people like racing but don’t like the fumes and the noise. Our races will be quieter and the air will have the smell of good food. We want people to have fun, to be entertained, and to be educated on how to save the planet.
I am appreciating that your vision is bigger than the lone wolf paradigm.
Yes. This project is about creating a network of strategic partnerships. We want to bring the vision back to Bellingham; we think of Bellingham as a hub for innovation. Our base of operations will continue to be here. We don’t want to harp on how bad things are, focusing on the loss of species, the pollution issues — we all know the enormity of the problems. We need to focus on solutions, practical solutions, and put the emphasis on where we go from here. We need to green the structure. The populace can be educated by attending our events, and hopefully this will inspire them to create real change.
Have you run into any trouble or resistance so far?
No, none at all. We are aware that the system is resistant to change, but it’s best to tell the truth and make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill ya! (laughs). We want to bring about change. We have fun and we don’t take it too seriously. We are offering alternatives. Hope will spring out of this kind of event.
How do you take care of yourselves?
We try to keep a sense of humor. We have a great dialogue between us. I have my martial arts and family support. I recognize the value of balance. I listen to my body and to my spirit. We are also documenting this whole process. We’d like to see our journey turned into a reality series, a model for others.
What would you like to say to our readers?
We hope people will begin to look out for the news of the Race and we welcome other organizations and projects to partner with us. We are moving to a new location so if people want to contact us they can call us at (360) 306-2025 or via the email firstname.lastname@example.org and once we establish the new office we will be hosting a community wide event to introduce ourselves.
To offer hope is part of the reason I do these articles. People see a really grim picture of our present and future trajectory. We need to be reminded that we can make a difference. I am excited about your project and your inspiring vision. I will definitely attend the Race and come by your office.