Fortune Favors the Audacious: Paul Schroeder, HOURCAR President & CEO


Fortune Favors the Audacious

Prepared remarks delivered by Paul Schroeder, HOURCAR President and CEO, at the official launch of the EV Spot Network: EV Spot Charging and Evie Carshare.

Today, Friday the 13th, is the perfect day to launch this project.

People say Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. And that’s exactly why It’s perfect. Because on a day like today, when our planet is warming, and our oceans are rising, and the very air we breathe is making us sick, Friday the 13th reminds us that we can’t afford to sit around waiting for a lucky break. We have to make our own luck.

There’s a Latin proverb that says audaces Fortuna juvat, “Fortune favors the audacious.” The point of the proverb is that Fortune smiles on those who don’t just stand around waiting for her to show up. Luck is on the side of those who make their own luck. The audacious in the proverb are those who take bold action to create a possible future. So today isn’t an unlucky day. It’s an audacious day.

And this project, the EV Spot Network and Evie Carshare, is nothing if not audacious. Among its goals are to replace 22 million miles worth of trips in internal-combustion engine vehicles with trips in EVs powered by renewable energy; to reduce over 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions; and to eliminate 500 tons of harmful pollutants that cause lung cancer, asthma, COPD, emphysema, and other breathing disorders. On this account, we’re very proud to have the American Lung Association as a partner on the project. The neighborhoods that are the most impacted by these pollutants—Black, indigenous, people of color, and low-wealth communities—are the very neighborhoods where this service will operate. The EV Spot Network will reduce pollutants in these communities, while making it easier for residents to get to jobs, medical appointments, and essential services. That’s audacious.

Mayor Carter and Mayor Frey, I want to thank you both for being audacious leaders on climate change. Mayor Carter, you had the vision to create Saint Paul’s first Chief Resilience Officer position; I can’t say enough good things about Russ Stark’s enlightened leadership, or Samantha Henningson’s conscientious stewardship of this project. As mayor, you oversaw development of the City’s first Climate Action and Resilience Plan, which set an audacious goal: carbon neutrality in City operations by 2030, and citywide by 2050. And Mayor Frey, you and the Minneapolis City Council set a goal for 100% of the City’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. This project is born out of both your vision for a cleaner, greener Twin Cities, and is a step toward making that vision a reality.

I want to give a special shout-out today to Mary Morse Marti, the OG, the original goddess of carsharing in Minnesota. As the executive director of the Neighborhood Energy Connection, Mary took bold initiative in 2005 to launch a new community carsharing program called HOURCAR. Mary, without you this day would never have happened.

To the HOURCAR staff: this is the pluckiest group of individuals it has ever been my good fortune to work with. You know what you did, what we all went through, to make this day possible. It is my highest honor to be part of this team.

To the HOURCAR Board: I will never forget how, at a Board meeting in 2018, when we were considering this project with all its risks and unknowns and potential downsides, the Board said, “You know what? Let’s swing for the fences.” That was an audacious day, a day like today.

I want to recognize in our first-in funders, the McKnight Foundation and Xcel Energy, who gave us seed funds for planning when this project was the longest of long shots. Today, look at what has grown from those seeds.

In addition to McKnight and Xcel, I want to acknowledge all the funders that have supported this project: the Saint Paul Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation’s Climate Action and Racial Equity Fund, 3M, the Otto Bremer Trust, Metro CERTs, the GM Climate Equity Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies through its American Cities Climate Challenge, the US Energy Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Transportation Advisory Board of the Metropolitan Council, and MnDOT’s Sustainable Transportation Advisory Council.

I want to express my admiration to our partners at ZEF Energy for custom creating this beautiful and rugged piece of urban infrastructure, the EV Spot charger; to Vision Flourish, for designing the visually striking EV Spot Network and Evie carshare brand; and to our technology partners at Vulog, for engineering such an elegant and easy-to-use app.

My gratitude goes out to our partners at the Electrification Coalition and National Cooperative Leasing, who found these cars for us in the midst of the pandemic, when cars were simply not to be had; and to the folks at GM, who worked closely with us to get the cars back in service when our original launch was delayed by a recall.

My utmost appreciation is due to Will Schroeer of East Metro Strong for many a late night crafting just the right language for a grant.

To all our community partners, especially Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association and Payne Phalen Community Council; to our supporters gathered with us today in person or in spirit; to all the believers in this project, I say, “thank you.”

I want to urge all of us to keep swinging for the fences, to keep reaching for those big and audacious dreams, to keep creating that possible future. Because we owe it to future generations, the children of our children, that when they ask us, “What did you do when the world was burning?” we can hold our heads up high and say, “We took audacious action. We didn’t wait for a better day, or a lucky break, or to be dealt a better hand. We did what was ours to do.” President Barack Obama called this “Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!” Fortune favors the audacious. So let’s be audacious, and show the world what’s possible.