Monday, January 22, 2018

Driven to Sustain

Driven to Sustain's Tyson Jerry and Cloe Whittaker in the Veggie Mobile

Talk about being Driven to Sustain. What would you do if, in the middle of a Guinness World Record breaking attempt to journey the longest distance on alternative fuel by car, the van you’d poured a year of your life and all of your savings into gave out. Well, if you’re Tyson Jerry and Cloe Whittaker, you would go find the best paying work you could (tree planting for Jerry, government office work for Whittaker), and start again the following year.

Think about it. First of all, it was a crazy venture to begin with, the two of them living in a van and pumping their own money into a journey they really didn’t have to make. But they did it anyway. Because they knew that the best way to reach people, to give them a different version of the world, was to do something offbeat and different. Me? I’d have been tempted to go home to sleep in a real bed (did I mention they’d been sleeping in their van?)

But not them. Because they had a single minded dream, a vision of what the world could look like, and enough self assurance to follow their hearts.

And in so doing, they found their way into the hearts of millions who followed their story across Canada, and then down through the US, into New York where they broke the record in late March, and then back into Canada for a victory lap and the chance to connect with thousands of more school kids who were interested in what they were doing.

They even picked up some critical sponsorship along the way.

They are fascinating people. And I wasn’t alone in thinking so. Media from every city came out to interview them, including Reuters, Bloomberg, The New York Daily News, CBS, CBC’s The National, The Toronto Star, CTV Toronto, CBC national radio, and then yesterday in Ottawa alone 580 CFRA, CBC news, CTV, A-channel and The Ottawa Citizen. They came because these two represent our best hope for the future. They are both inspired and inspiring and they are the future of this planet.

So as their environmental education campaign called “Driven to Sustain” comes to an end, as they drive “The Veggie-Mobile,” a van powered by the waste oil from French fries and other restaurant food, back to BC where they live, they haven’t just broken a world record, they’ve encouraged thousands of people to be more mindful of their place on the planet and inspired millions with the story of their journey.

The new record will be 45,000K. But what they did can’t be measured in distance or even time. They changed how some kids saw the world and their responsibility to it. They gave kids hope to go out and follow their dreams and passions and stand up for what they believe. What they did changed hearts and minds. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do in the future.

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