The C.A.N. Car: A Vehicle for Change
by Jesse Jane
The moment your whole life becomes a reflection of your vision, the change you wish to see in the world happens.
Sitting in my car, letting her rev up for the morning’s adventures and pondering what errands have precedence, I notice a smell. It smells like the plethora of restaurant odors one might encounter walking in town around dinnertime. In times past, a smell coming from my car might have created worries concerning the proper functioning of the vehicle. The realization that this smell is the vegetable oil fueling my gurgly little car sends me into the positivity of what a sweet fragrance this is. What a joy, a triumph, to know that the vehicle that transports me, my community, and our good work around will no longer be using the blood of the earth, the very resource that allows people in power to think we can live so inefficiently upon the earth.
Now, when I smell the oil fueling my car I remember that my whole life is a vehicle. The choices I make and the tools I use are what make the changes I wish to see in the world. Although a vegetable-fueled car is not the final resolution of our oil dependency, it is a tool, a vehicle, in a movement of creating a healthy future for me, my community, and the children of the earth. It is a vehicle for change.
The C.A.N. Car
The C.A.N car works in myriad directions for creating change and movement away from oil toward more innovative sources of living; the car is a permaculture project. C.A.N. stands for Community, Art, and Nature, which is the curriculum behind the work of the C.A.N. car. C.A.N. came together with the realization that if we are to create a lasting peace, we must begin by inspiring children to be free-spirited and guiding them on their path of inner knowing and connecting with the earth. The idea of C.A.N is to focus on using community, art, and nature as a core curriculum for educating and mentoring youth and adults.
The diesel engine was first invented by Rudolf Diesel in 1893 with the intent to use vegetable oils, which would be cleaner for the air and enable independent craftsmen and artisans to compete with the monopoly of large corporate industry. Since the time of Rudolf Diesel, the petroleum industry has kept diesel engines dependent upon petrol-based fuel. Primarily in European countries has the vegetable fuel continued to be used in the diesel. Recently the idea migrated and people are making it happen here.
In August of this year, the C.A.N. car was part of an Elsbett conversion workshop held in Santa Rosa, California. Elsbett is a German company that specializes in vegetable-oil conversion kits for Mercedes and Volkswagen diesel engines. My friend Michael and I weren’t afraid to get greasy and demystify the mechanics of the internal combustion engine. We spent two days putting in a new fuel line and fuel filter, a heat exchange to heat the oil, new glow plugs, lots of new hoses, and a whole box of new electrical functions. It was fun, challenging, inspiring, and very satisfying. If we can do it,anybody can .
The C.A.N. car is a vehicle for building bridges between people and the C.A.N. curriculum by transporting youth and adults to local wild places, community events, and educational resources. Beginning this fall, the car will include regular routes to and from northern and southern California, connecting people to the Institute of Nature Awareness; The Permaculture Institute of Northern California; The Riekes Center Field Station; The Noetic Sciences Institute; Wildlife Associates; New College of California; The Wilderness Youth Projects Cuyama Field Station, Santa Barbara; and the north Bay Area.
What we will be learning and participating in through these journeys are the interconnections between the elements of bioregionalism (economics, ecology, & culture) and the elements of the C.A.N. curriculum (community, art, and nature). The purpose of integrating these experiences is to create a cooperative model for future activists to be able to do the work they were born to do.
Every Little Bit Counts
Everything we do creates change. If we have ideas about how to create a healthier lifestyle, we can surround ourselves with a landscape that symbolizes these changes. The C.A.N. car is a symbol for the change being created in our landscape.
Manifesting the C.A.N. car has been a work kept alive by continually refocusing my life and vision. Through much community work, the steps have been taken toward the purchase and conversion of a vegetable-oil fueled diesel engine Mercedes station wagon. The car is a work in progress and still needs help and support. If you are inspired to contribute to this project, our combined efforts will make a huge difference in this process. A reasonable contribution, from $1-$1000, would be gratefully received.
This is a brief synopsis of the C.A.N. Car project. If you have questions or would like further information, Jessy Jane is available on her mobile phone at: 805-451-8389 or
. Below are some website links to organizations and ideas mentioned in this synopsis.
My heart is open with gratitude for all of the creation in and around me. I send out a thank you to my friends and family who love, support, and listen to me. I am a product of the beauty around me and that is you. I give thanks for all of the teachers in my life, especially the children who bless me with their presence, my mother, my cohorts, and the world around me, from the trees to the trains. Everywhere we look lies a question to be answered, and every moment we live is a lesson to be learned.
Mahalo and Aloha!
Vegetable Fuel Conversion Info:
Organizations and Educational Resources Related to C.A.N. Curriculum: