Romancing the Vanpool: Energy Conservation on Film

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you already know that there are some amazing films at the National Archives and Records Administration (see: Curious Alice). One of my favorites is No Fuelin’, We’re Poolin’: An Altogether Way of Getting to Work.

Aside from having one of the best titles of any government film, No Fuelin’, We’re Poolin’ is entertaining and informative. It is, at heart, a love story. We watch Ron and his vanpool rescue Linda when she experiences car trouble. Ron and Linda bond as he explains the many benefits of vanpooling and how she can get involved in the program. Will Ron and Linda end up together in the same vanpool? I think you already know the answer . . .

The Department of Energy produced No Fuelin’, We’re Poolin’ during the administration of President Jimmy Carter. On February 2, 1977, President Carter addressed the nation about energy policy and the important role of conservation in confronting the nation’s energy shortage. During the next several years, the Department of Energy produced several films about energy conservation measures such as vanpooling or energy-proofing your home.

Ron tells Linda how the computer makes vanpool matches.

Behind the cheesy acting and the 1970s fashion there is a lot of good information in No Fuelin’, We’re Poolin’ about how a vanpooling program works. When someone applies for a spot in a vanpool, a computer program maps out their location and identifies others nearby interested in ride-sharing to the same destination. The program in the film is coordinated by Ron and Linda’s company, but in some places public transit authorities provide vehicles for vanpools. The end credits mention the involvement of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, which still facilitates a similar service today.

President Carter’s emphasis on energy conservation also resulted in films and public service announcements from other government agencies. Though retro, these films often contain advice and information that continues to be relevant. For a great example, check out this PSA featuring Ed Asner for the Department of Housing and Urban Development: