They’re the Urban Campers. We’re knocking on their doors and having a look inside.
Just about every weekday morning, T.R. Ludwig has to roll out of bed and get into the office by 8:30 a.m. And then he has to move that office. Because his office is a 1985 Winnebago attached to the body of a Chevy 150 truck.
Ludwig is the VP of Business Development for solar company Ad Energy, so it only makes sense that his workplace runs on solar power. “I’ve always had this dream of putting solar on an RV because I thought it would be cool, but also just, you know, there’s no reason you can’t do it,” he says. “It’s actually fairly easy once you figure everything out.”
The Minnie Winnie, as the model is called, has been in Ludwig’s family since 1993 (he grew up camping in it every summer in Maine) but the 37-year-old didn’t start using it for business until May.
Ludwig used to commute from Fort Greene to a traditional office in Greenpoint. When changes in the business caused him to have to downsize the office and get a new workspace, he decided to resuscitate the RV that had been sitting in his parents’ driveway for two years. Now his (rent-free!) office has desk space in the form of a tabletop, a working toilet, a sink, a fridge, cabinets, and a closet. There are no less than five places to sleep should he need to indulge in an afternoon power nap, and a shower if he plans on going out straight from work.
But why keep the thing in Greenpoint rather than Fort Greene? “I just sort of got in the habit of coming out to Greenpoint,” he said. “And I knew it was a quiet area, so I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll just bring it here, and see how that goes.’”
So far, he’s the office’s sole occupant (his employees have been working from home) but not for long. Now that the solar is up, it’s just a matter of getting the details in order — like figuring out where to park so the panels are facing the sun, and getting the AC going.
“We’ll see what happens, but if this works I could imagine us easily getting another one. No reason for us not to,” he says, wide-eyed with excitement. But before jumping ahead to the next RV, Ludwig has plenty in store for this one.
Ludwig is involved in another project called Solarize Brooklyn, a solar co-op of sorts for Brooklynites, and he’d like to use good ol’ Winnie for outreach, “sort of like a mobile office.” He plans to station the RV at places like Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City and solar-powered East River Park in Williamsburg, in order to offer up information to those interested (he’ll also start tweeting the RV’s destinations).
“Probably once a day somebody knocks on the door and is like, ‘Hey, what’s going on in here?’ We haven’t even done much with this thing yet, but I know it’s gonna be really cool. And I’m positive it’s gonna catch on.” When solar-powered RV offices become all the rage, just remember where you read about them first.