Currently Amanda Congdon and her compatriots Mario Librandi, Rob Librandi and Emily Golub are nearing the end of their second week of a five-week journey across America in a Ford Escape Hybrid. AutoBlogGreen had a chance to talk to Amanda as they meandered from Greensboro, North Carolina into Tennessee.

AutoblogGreen: What was the goal of this trip and what prompted you to do this project?

Amanda Congdon: We knew that we wanted to videoblog across country, and we're very environmentally conscious, so it seemed perfect to partner with an environmental organization like the Natural Resources Defence Council and EnvironmentalCountdown. The goals of the trip are to raise awareness about the environment and about "citizens" or as Jeff Jarvis was saying "network journalism". Those are the two things we're focusing on when we meet with people along the way.

Read the rest of the interview after the jump.


AutoblogGreen: Can you talk a little more about the sponsors of the trip, NRDC and EnvironmentalCountdown?

Amanda Congdon: EnvironmentalCountdown is a sister organization with the NRDC, and of course the other sponsor is Ford for the hybrid vehicle [the Escape Hybrid].

AutoblogGreen: Ford supplied the vehicle for you?

Amanda Congdon: Yes.

AutoblogGreen: NRDC I think most people are familiar with, but I haven't heard of EnvironmentalCountdown before this, can you tell us more about them?

Amanda Congdon: They're brand new! Basically they're underwriting the project. They're so new that they only have a one page site right now. NRDC wanted to raise awareness about this new project that they're launching, which is the EnvironmentalCountdown. The clock is ticking on global warming, and EnvironmentalCountdown wants to explore using web video to highlight people that are really environmentally focused.

AutoblogGreen: They want to show people getting involved in environmental projects around the country and around the world?

Amanda Congdon: For example, I believe it was our Friday or Saturday video, where we actually showed the Newtown Creek, that was a video that EnvironmentalCountdown actually produced, it was one of their first videos.

AutoblogGreen: As for who you are interviewing, do you have a route planned as you cross the country or are you just playing it by ear?

Amanda Congdon: No. We have a very specific path, and we have a little bit of room for spontaneity, but pretty much the interviews that we're going to be doing are set.

AutoblogGreen: Are you driving mostly freeways or back roads?

Amanda Congdon: A little both of both, we're trying to do back roads as much as possible, but we have strict deadlines and need to be in certain cities on certain days, so it depends on how leisurely the drive can be. Yesterday we drove almost entirely on back roads to Greensboro, and today we're kind of high-tailing it to Knoxville on the highway.

AutoblogGreen: Are you doing all of your editing in the vehicle on the road as you drive?

Amanda Congdon: Only a very limited amount of it, most of the editing is done by our two editors. Our primary editor is Chuck Olsen from Minnesota Stories and we're fedexing him tapes and we also have Michael Verdi editing some of the footage as well and he's in San Antonio, Texas.

AutoblogGreen: Is there just the two of you driving?

Amanda Congdon: Oh no, it's four of us.

AutoblogGreen: Four of you? That must be kind of crowded with four of you in the Escape.

Amanda Congdon: It's comfortable.

AutoblogGreen: The last thing I want to get into is, have you found anything new as far bio-fuels, bikers, public transportation as you move across the country? You haven't gotten very far yet, but is there anything you've picked up on as far as any kind of trends? Anything you'd like to share with us?

Amanda Congdon: We are going to be visiting biodiesel.org in Jefferson City, Missouri, so we're excited to learn a lot about biodiesel when we hit Jefferson next week. When we were researching the trip, that was something that we considered, but there were large stretches of the country were biodiesel isn't available. So it didn't seem to make a whole ton of sense, but it's getting more and more easy. If you go to biodiesel.org there are a lot of stations around the country. I bet by this time next year it would be easy to do a road-trip on purely biodiesel or some kind of eco-fuel.

AutoblogGreen: Have you talked to anyone about public transportation?

Amanda Congdon: We hadn't considered that, but that might be something to look into.

Thanks to Amanda for taking the time to talk to AutoblogGreen and we'll keep following her journey.


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