Life with an Electric Vehicle (EV) – The first 90 days

By Teresa Porter

My friend slowly walked around the car, eyeing both it and me quizzically. I opened the hood and the charging port covers. He stopped and stared, looking confused. He looked up at me, a concerned look on his face. “Why?”

Curiosity finally got the best of me. After a decade of reading about electric cars, I finally bought one.

The purchase was almost impulsive. I chose the 2016 Nissan Leaf as my first-ever electric car for several reasons. There’s a dealership in town, they have a good reputation, and they’re really cheap. The previous owner, a leasee, drove her gently and took good care of her. I was looking for something newer, but wasn’t really thinking about electric. I looked at a couple of websites for a minute and there she was, third car on the page of unfiltered results. She sparked my interest, then sparked joy in my heart. I did fifteen minutes of research and signed the contract. A week later she was in my driveway and the keys were in my hand.

I fell head-over-heels in love with my Tokimeki the first time I drove her. Yes, I named my Leaf. Tokimeki is a Japanese noun that means “spark of joy”.  (You may be more familiar with the verb form, Tokimeku, meaning “sparking joy”, as used by Marie Kondo.) My love for her grows stronger every day, and my road rage has nearly completely vanished. I do have an occasional bout of “range anxiety”, but it’s part of the learning curve.

I learned a lot in the first 90 days, and I’ve encountered a lot of people with misconceptions. I’d like to clear some of that up. Here are some of the most common comments I’ve heard and my responses:

They’re oversized golf carts.  No. Golf carts don’t usually 0-60 in less than 10 seconds.

 Electric cars use gasoline. No. Hybrids use gasoline, not electric cars.

They’re expensive to maintain. No. Regenerative braking saves wear on the braking system, there’s no oil filter or crankcase oil, there’s no exhaust system (no catalytic converter, no muffler, no pipes, etc). No spark plugs, etc. The maintenance manual for this car is so thin it’s practically a brochure.

There’s nowhere to recharge. Okay, you got me there. Mclennan county is seriously lacking in public EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) infrastructure, especially if you don’t own a Tesla. It’s a bit of a surprise, considering the push for tourism. Many local apartment complexes aren’t EV-ready, and workplace charging is non-existent. I know, the struggle is real, especially if you drive a lot like I do. If I were a normal person who only drove an average of 60 miles a week, I would only need to use my Level 1 charger overnight once a week. What if I lived in an apartment, and was unable to run a charging cord out my window? I would have to find time to go to one of the dealerships for a few hours every week or rely on the Level 3 charging station at the Bellmead Walmart.

You can’t go very far. Well… you’re right. I can’t go very far – I have a small battery and a lead foot. Technology has improved significantly in the past three years and the range of the newer models is at least triple what I’m capable of. The range is largely a guess by the computer and will increase or decrease depending on how fast you’re going, how heavy your foot is, and how many hills you’re climbing. In a way, it encourages safe driving habits. Hard acceleration, high speeds, and sudden braking significantly decrease your range. Gentle acceleration and slow deceleration uses less energy and provides more regenerative power back to the battery. 

Your car is powered by coal. No. Well, maybe a little. I know that Oncor uses fossil fuels to power the distribution stations. I know that renewable sources and non-renewable sources travel through the same power lines. I know that even though I’ve chosen a “clean” provider, it still gets “dirty” on the way to my house. I also know there’s a lot more renewable energy on the grid than there used to be, and the trend will continue as consumers continue to increase their demand for cleaner energy.

Dealerships don’t stock them. Yeah, and they are very rarely advertised. I’ve talked to several salesmen at some of the local dealerships. Some of them swear they don’t sell, others admit they can’t keep them in stock. On a recent visit to a non-Nissan dealership, I told the salesman I wanted to trade one of my older gasoline cars for an electric car. He said, “You don’t want an electric car.” He couldn’t change my mind, and he wouldn’t change his.  He talked his way out of the sale. Jeez. No wonder those internet sites are becoming more popular.

They’re too expensive. Nope. The newer models are becoming more competitively priced, and when you factor in the federal tax credit still available for some manufacturers, they’re cheaper. There’s also a good used market right now, with gently driven 2 or 3 year-old cars at very reasonable prices. Don’t just look at the price tag, take the time to do the math and calculate the actual cost of ownership. New EVs are eligible for the tax credit but used EVs are not. New EVs are also eligible for a $2,500 rebate through the TCEQ Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive program. (There are a limited number of rebates that will be awarded first-come, first serve.) You’re not buying gasoline anymore. No oil change is required at 3,000 miles. No tune-ups, no engine air filter, no belts, tensioners, idler pulleys. Your electric bill will go up a few dollars, some owners see an increase of as much as $35 in their monthly bill. I was spending an average of $80 a month on gasoline, now I spend less than $20 a month for charging and still drive the same number of miles.

EVs will kill the automotive industry. No. I’m sure 100 years ago when people were still driving horse-drawn buggies, a similar argument was made by carriage makers. The carriage makers that evolved with the advancing technology stayed in business while those that resisted went bankrupt.

I don’t like the new body styles. I prefer the classics. I agree. Conversions are very sexy. It’s not as cheap as buying a new Tesla, but it can be done. Companies such as EV West, Electrified Garage, and Moment Motors are just a couple of experts in the field. Check out Youtube for videos of ICE to EV conversions.

Teresa Porter is a lifelong gearhead with a go-fast fetish. She is the President of the newly-formed Heart of Texas Electric Auto Association. Membership is open to all EV enthusiasts and advocates (not just owners). Email or follow Twitter @hot_eaa or join our Facebook group for updates and information.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Notes from the Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival

By Andie Chilson

Kevin and Sam Sorbo with Moderator, Jim Nash of The Shooter FM, during the Talk Back after the Opening Night Movie, “Miracle in East Texas,” which was produced by Sam Sorbo and directed by Kevin Sorbo (who also starred in the movie)

The inaugural Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival took place from Feb. 6-8. The festival provided a forum for artists and directors who work at the intersection of faith, family and contemporary filmmaking. The mission statement of the festival, “dedicated to empowering the creative spirit, serving with heart and celebrating all” shone through in the winning films at the festival.

The festival showcased films rooted in family and faith while also giving a voice to a breadth of ideas and diversity of backgrounds. Among the winning films were Bending in the Wind (Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film (USA)), Nasser Goes to Space (Grand Jury Prize For Best Short Film (International)) and Be the Light (Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Film (USA/International)). The festival screened over 60 films at 11 different locations at Baylor University, local churches and the Waco Hippodrome Theatre.

The Grand Jury Prize for Best Student Film went to student-director Nicole Thompson for her film Blackbird.

Blackbird is really important to me because it honors my grandmother,” Thompson said. “I wanted to make a film that showcases the everyday people … that also have a dream,” Thompson continued.

Filmmakers like Thompson were drawn to the festival for its unique emphasis on faith and family values. These values were reflected in the “Soul Sessions” that followed the screenings. The “Soul Sessions” gave audience members a chance to discuss the themes of faith and spirituality in the films. Topics discussed during these sessions included overcoming fear and doubt and the concept of eternal love.

Dr. Tyrha Lindsey-Warren, the festival’s founder, said she was elated by the response from the filmmakers as well as Waco locals. (Side note: Act Locally Waco will be interviewing Dr. Lindsey-Warren on the Act Locally Waco podcast about the festival and her work in Waco – stay tuned!)

2020 Champions Award Recipients for the Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival (l to r)- Sam Sorbo, Gina Neely, and Kevin Sorbo (a.k.a. “Mr. Hercules”)

The festival also honored its “Champion Award” recipients. The Champion Award recognizes artists and organizations who exemplify innovative, against-the-grain thinking in the film, television, performing arts and entertainment industries. Recipients of the Champion Award included President of TFNB Bank, David Littlewood, celebrity chef and best-selling author, Gina Neely, film producer, radio host, author and model, Sam Sorbo and her husband, actor and director, Kevin Sorbo,

The second annual Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival will take place on Feb. 4-6, 2021. For more information, visit See you there!

Andie Chilson is a senior at Baylor University studying journalism and creative writing. She is originally from Houston, but Waco has quickly come to feel like a second home to her. Andie enjoys writing and digital content creation as a way to express her creativity and help people spread their message. In her free time, you can find her reading anything by Brené Brown, doing yoga or exploring downtown Waco. Andie is so excited to be working as part of the Act Locally Waco team this semester!

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

Best-selling Author Stephen Harrigan to Visit McLennan Community College for Conversation and Book-Signing

Press release – McLennan Community College is proud to host best-selling author Stephen Harrigan for a wideranging conversation about the vast history of Texas. 

Harrigan, the author of ten books of both fiction and nonfiction, will sign copies of his latest book, “Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas,” which will be available for purchase. 

He will also answer audience questions after a public conversation event with Dr. Richard Driver, an associate professor of history of MCC. 

The free event is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 26 at the Conference Center at MCC. It is hosted by the McLennan Honors College, a program for MCC students taking specialized course work, exposing themselves to new educational opportunities, and participating in individual mentoring. Students in the program must apply and undergo an interview process for acceptance. 

MCC President Dr. Johnette McKown and Honors College Advisor Dr. John Spano will welcome guests and introduce the speaker. Free coffee and water will be available. 

“Big Wonderful Thing” has brought rave reviews for Harrigan. In a review for The Wall Street Journal, Willard Spiegelman noted that the book is “brimming with sass, intelligence, trenchant analysis, literary acumen and juicy details. . . It is popular history at its best.” And Michael Schaub, in his review for NPR, wrote that “It’s hard to think of another writer with as much Lone Star credibility as Stephen Harrigan. . . Harrigan, essentially, is to Texas literature what Willie Nelson is to Texas music.” 

He is a longtime writer for Texas Monthly, and his articles and essays have appeared in a wide range of other publications as well, including The Atlantic, Outside, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, Conde Nast Traveler, Audubon, Travel Holiday, Life, American History, National Geographic and Slate. He was a finalist for the 2015 National Magazine Awards for his commentary on film and television for Texas Monthly. “Off Course”, a piece for Texas Monthly about a trek Harrigan made to the mountain summit where his father died in a plane crash before he was born, won the Edwin “Bud” Shrake Award from the Texas Institute of Letters in 2016 for best work of journalism.

Harrigan is also the author of “The Eye of the Mammoth,” a book of essays which includes an examination of mammoth remains in Waco. 

Among the many movies Harrigan has written for television are HBO’s award-winning “The Last of His Tribe,” starring Jon Voight and Graham Greene, and “King of Texas,” a western retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear for TNT, which starred Patrick Stewart, Marcia Gay Harden, and Roy Scheider. His most recent television production was “The Colt,” an adaptation of a short story by the Nobel-prize winning author Mikhail Sholokhov, which aired on The Hallmark Channel.

Event Details

What: Best-selling author Stephen Harrigan at McLennan Community College When: Thursday, March 26 at 7 p.m. Where: Conference Center at MCC. Inside the Community Services Center on campus, at 4601 N. 19th St. Waco, TX 76708

Tickets: Free tickets are available at: Tickets, which may be printed or downloaded on the Eventbrite app, must be presented at the door. Those without tickets will be admitted 5-10 minutes before the event starts. 

Parking: Free parking is within walking distance of the event. Lots N, Q, P, and S are closest. Check out a campus map here. 

This event is a gun-free zone, and MCC is a smoke-free, tobacco-free, and vape-free campus. 

Media Contact: Lisa Elliott, Director of Marketing and Communications.  254-299-8640  

Prosper Waco Welcomes New Director of Research and Community Impact

Press release – Prosper Waco is pleased to announce the hiring of Emily Hunt-Hinojosa as director of research and community impact. In this position, Hunt-Hinojosa will develop and expand a framework for assessing progress toward community goals and will benchmark progress in the Prosper Waco focus areas of education, health and financial security. Her duties will also include linking theory to practice across the community helping to create an overall culture of continuous quality improvement around the larger vision of flourishing that Prosper Waco seeks to promote.

“The story of Waco is increasingly complex. On one hand, there are so many wonderful things happening throughout our city. Strong institutions, increasing diversity, economic growth, development, and collective efforts to do good work are all indicators of progress and prospering,” said Hunt-Hinojosa. “However, too many community members continue to experience insurmountable obstacles to enjoying many of the good things Waco has to offer. I am thrilled to join the Prosper Waco team and look forward to telling Greater Waco’s story in a way that is honest about current social realities and hopeful about our progress toward being a community where all members can thrive.”

Hunt-Hinojosa was most recently employed as a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture where she pursued academic research regarding the cultural conflicts arising from different perspectives on the purpose of civic education. During her Ph.D. program, she served as a research analyst at Baylor University’s Center for Community Research and Development. In this role, Hunt-Hinojosa conducted a variety of qualitative and quantitative research projects for Waco organizations helping institutions across McLennan County use data to do good better. Prior to graduate studies at Baylor, Hunt-Hinojosa directed a service learning program at Creighton University where she connected college student volunteers with non-profits around the metro Omaha region. Hunt-Hinojosa’s sociological perspective and her previous experience related to assessment and evaluation make her uniquely qualified for her new role at Prosper Waco.

Hunt-Hinojosa has a Ph.D. in sociology from Baylor University specializing in community analytics. She earned a M.A. in sociology from Baylor University and a M.A. in higher education and student development from Taylor University. She also has a bachelor’s degree in social studies education from Taylor University.

“A vital precursor to collective impact is collective understanding,” Hunt-Hinojosa explained. “As a sociologist, I see much of my new role as using data to highlight the pathways and connections between problems and solutions that are not always obvious. Beyond reporting numbers and statistics, I am excited to collaborate with Waco’s leaders to discern our context, celebrate our assets, and imagine our possibilities.”

Prosper Waco is a collective impact initiative focused on addressing issues facing the Greater Waco community in the areas of education, health and financial security. As a facilitator and convener, Prosper Waco encourages collaboration amongst existing nonprofits, city and county governments, business, foundations and churches to build on and increase the effectiveness of current efforts and develop new strategies to bring about measurable and sustainable positive change within the focus areas for the members of our community. For more information, please contact