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BULLETIN | News for Members

By Della Watson

Grilled: Gary Krysztopik | New Board | Underground Treasure

Invading the Privacy of the People Who Make the Club Tick

Photo by Josh Huskin

Name: Gary Krysztopik
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Contribution: EV builder
Website: zwheelz.com

So, an electric vehicle revolution isn't enough; you want people to make their cars themselves?
My goal is to make the car so easy to assemble that anybody could build it by themselves without special tools or experience. I'm confident that can be done. I wanted to do an open-source project so anybody could copy the plans, because I see part of our environmental problem is the shipping of goods around the world. So I thought, why can't we produce cars locally?

How would an average Jane like me do that? There are open-source CNC [computer numerical control] machines and open-source printers, so now products can be locally manufactured—ll we have to do is email files around. People should be able to assemble it in one week—that's my criteria. Normally, when you look at kit cars, they take years to build. It's fun if you enjoy building, but it's not practical for getting a large number of cars on the road.

What's Stopping you? The problem with my idea is it's not very attractive to investors. They want patents, proprietary information. Open-source ideas are a good fit for grants or partnering with universities. I just can't support a business without anything to sell.

You called your first DIY EV a hot rod. Was that a bit of a stretch? At the time, there weren't many EVs. People had the perception that electric cars were slow or just fancy golf carts. The goal with my first car was to turn heads. I got the biggest chrome wheels I could find. I got fancy racing seats. The vehicle was huge—I didn't want to make a small vehicle. It was a real pain to take out and drive around because people would surround it. I couldn’t change lanes because people were driving alongside me. It was such a different-looking vehicle.

You have an electrical engineering degree. Are you sure i Don't need one to build one of these things? Building an electric car has more to do with mechanical engineering than electrical engineering. All I want you to have to do is buy the components off the shelf. There's very little electrical engineering in building an electric car. —interview by Mackenzie Mount

Do you know a Sierra Club volunteer who deserves recognition? Send nominations to submissions.sierra@sierraclub.org.

New Board

Incumbents Donna Buell, Jim Dougherty, and Susana Reyes; former director and president Robin Mann; and new representative Chuck Frank were elected to open positions on the Sierra Club Board of Directors. Learn more at sierraclub.org/bod.

Underground Treasure


A Kentucky cave's ties to the Underground Railroad have helped save it from becoming a coal-ash dumping site—at least so far. Locals have successfully campaigned to preserve the Wentworth Lime Cave, which lies on Louisville Gas and Electric Company (LG&E) property in Trimble County, citing both health concerns and its historical importance. Alicestyne Turley, an expert hired by LG&E, first documented that the cave was likely a hideout for runaway slaves. Names and initials carved on the cave’s walls, possibly dating back to 1817, match those of notable area abolitionists.

"I was 95 percent certain that the cave had been used as an escape or at least as a holding location, based on how close it was to the river and to docks where you could board a boat, based on the diaries I found and on the fact that there are no other caves like that in the region," said Turley, an African and African American studies professor at Berea College.

Sierra Club member and activist Sonia McElroy asked a friend with a plane to fly over the remote cave to keep tabs on it. This spring, state legislators unanimously passed a resolution encouraging v to find somewhere else for its coal waste. Then Kentucky’s Division of Waste Management denied LG&E’s permit based on a state law that protects natural organisms that live in caves. McElroy hopes to ultimately see the cave protected as a nationally historic place. "It's very difficult to find treasures like this," Turley said. —M.M.


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