I was thrown off a little bit when the calendar information we provided on Monday’s presentation mentioned that the speaker, Jessica Furman Brock, would be giving an update on DDI. DDI to most of us means Downtown Durham, Inc. and is associated with its longtime and now retired leader, Rotarian Bill Kalkhof or its new leader Rotarian Geoff Durham. Adrian Brown, who when he isn’t organizing Rotary After Hours, earns his living with the Chamber of Commerce, quickly straightened out that confusion.
It turns out Ms. Brock really represents Longfellow Real Estate Partners of Boston, which is opening an office in Durham to help develop a healthy chunk of Downtown between the old Bulls Athletic Park and Duke Street and it’s not DDI but DID that we were to learn about. That’s Durham Innovation District.
The Area 7 rotary clubs (Durham clubs) will be running a “Water Station” at the Bull City Race Fest on October 19th, 2014. The event benefits Habitat for Humanity and is expecting around 7,000 runners. We have been asked by Joyce McKinney (Assistant District Governor Area 7) to have 12 volunteers from our club. Our task will be to hand out water, sports drinks, gel packs and cheer on all runners on the morning of the race! The timeframe will be 6:30am until 10:30am, on the corner of Watts & Minerva. An online sign-up will be emailed to all members soon, or you can contact Susan Miller at email@example.com, if you are interested in volunteering.
One of the most innovative vehicles that promises to transform city transportation is made right here in Durham, first at the old Bargain Furniture store downtown, and now on Corporation Street near the old Durham Bulls ballpark. Rob Cotter, founder and CEO of Organic Transit gave a presentation about the ELF car that is essentially an enclosed trike powered by pedal or solar energy. Rob brings together the attributes of engineer, visionary, passionate advocate for environmental stewardship, and canny salesmanship among others. While working on Porsche and BMW racing cars Rob developed an interest in vehicles powered by alternative sources of energy including foot power and solar produced electric energy. He directed the first solar powered car race—whose participants it might be noted by academics such as myself—largely consisting of land-grant university teams, have produced many innovations in design and solar power for vehicles.
The ELF, weighing in at 150 pounds, can reach legal speeds up to 20 miles an hour and has a cruising range of however far the driver can pedal or 15 miles or so using the electric power stored in a 48 volt lithium battery. Either solar power or standard electrical outlets recharge the battery, taking about 7 hours with solar and about 2 hours by outlet. Consuming the equivalent of one gallon of gas for every 1800 miles, the ELF is obviously environmentally friendly. As the demand for the ELF increases, cities will be cleaner and green jobs will be created plus people who are not keen on getting out on the streets on bikes can feel safer—ELFs are, at least at this point, rather attention getting.