McCord noted Tennessee is first in the Southeast in electric vehicle production and third in the nation, after California and Michigan. The Nissan Leaf is produced in Spring Hill and the Volkswagen Id.4 in Chattanooga, and Tennessee is poised to move ahead in the market.
General Motors is spending $2 billion to convert the Smyrna plant to electric-vehicle production. The Chevrolet Bolt will continue to be produced elsewhere, but the Smyrna site will build the all-electric Cadillac LYRIQ.
Chevrolet will produce the storage batteries for the LYRIQ in Tennessee as well. Several parts manufacturers for the various electric vehicles are spread across Tennessee.
McCord said EVX will include several models from California-based Tesla, and the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt and Volkswagen ID.4. He also has arranged an appearance by the futuristic Arcimoto, a three-wheeled solar-powered vehicle built on a motorcycle chassis.
Aptera Motors also plans a mass-produced three-wheeled electric vehicle and hopes to have a demonstration ready in time for the festival. Its three-wheeler includes a solar component which supplements the plug-in recharger and extends the range to 1,000 miles between charging, and allows day-to-day use without a charging station. McCord said the plan is to reach a long-term objective of getting vehicles off the grid entirely.
While many electric cars ultimately get their current from an electrical grid still dominated by fossil fuel sources, by some estimates electric car efficiency and fuel-source sustainability still substantially outweigh that of fossil-fueled vehicles.
McCord said that Get off the Grid Fest will include a dedicated EVX tent and a ride-and-drive exhibit of electric vehicles. He emphasized most music festivals exist only for the music, but Get off the Grid Fest will offer much more.
More than 70 local and regional practitioners and environmental experts will give demonstrations and talks on projects ranging from homesteading and mushroom farming to green jobs and financing solar projects.
McCord’s plan dovetails nicely with that of Fleming and Witkin for the festival. Fleming organized an alternative energy festival in Atlanta in the 1980s and has remained active in sustainable energy production ever since. He said the August event will also demonstrate the importance of community-driven sustainability goals.
“Rather than an act of individualistic isolation, getting and living off the grid is a community effort that, in turn, builds community,” Fleming said.
“Many associate those who live off-grid with people who are ‘prepping’ for a dystopian future breakdown of society and violent competition for scant resources.
“On the contrary, off-gridders are taking the steps now to preserve resources and conserve our environment so that the Earth will be able to sustain future generations.”
The organizers see this festival as creating a platform and space where people can share ideas and plans. In addition, they want to expand the concept of what it means to be self-sufficient.
They envision an immediate future where people produce more of their own energy, food, and health care. They have implemented small hydro-pumps that harness flowing streams to power a tiny house or trailer. They have also promoted and installed solar-powered water pumps for wells and other water supplies.
Fleming also wants to expand off-grid capabilities to traditionally under-served and minority communities, both urban and rural.
Nashvillian Jason Carney, the Black president of the Tennessee Solar Energy Association, will speak at the festival.
“Going into [a] boardroom, I’m the only person of color,” Carney said in an interview with National Public Radio.
“We go to these conferences, and I’m the only person of color. We go to the U.S. Green Building Council — the local chapter — and of 200 people, it might be me and maybe one other person of color,” he said. “It was very intimidating.”
The event organizers also see self-care as an essential part of off-the-grid living. Organizations like Haygood Farms will offer resources to support health and wellbeing
The first Get off the Grid Fest took place at Blairsville, Georgia, in 2017 and the second at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina in 2019. This year, it is coming to Chattanooga, and in 2023, the organizers are considering Virginia or South Carolina.
One ticket price includes all events at the festival. Go to Get Off the Grid Fest for more information.