New book investigates why people live off-grid
In Off the Grid author Nick Rosen, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, journalist, and broadcaster, travels across the U.S. to meet middle-class drop-outs, cult authors, pot growers, foreclosed families, and nature lovers spending their daily lives unplugged from mainstream society—doing without traditional sources of energy, forgoing indoor plumbing, and shunning fossil fuel-demanding transportation.
While investigating the motivation behind this movement of self-reliance, Nick delves into provocative topics such as the power of big energy companies and their hold on the U.S. economy—using the Blackout of 2003, a massive power outage which left parts of the Northeast, Midwest, and Ontario, Canada without electricity, as an alarm bell.
Off the Grid goes beyond stereotypes in its coverage of those who are choosing to take energy-conservation, slow-living, and the preservation of individuality a step further.
The people featured in Off the Grid, and within the movement at-large, are not always the back-to-the-wild recluses that one might expect, although a few are profiled, including the rustic character made popular through Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man and gun-toting novelist Carolyn Shute. To the contrary, many of those living off-the-grid have built small communities of like-minded people, often families with young children who are committed to helping one another. There are groups of devoted environmentalists who see this lifestyle as the only responsible way to counteract the massive energy consumption prevalent in ordinary American life. Others live this way rather unexpectedly, after finding urban and suburban lifestyles in conflict with their personal ethics, and still others were forced into their situations by economic factors beyond their control.
Those in Off the Grid are all incredibly diverse but what they do have in common is their understanding of how tenuous their unique situation is, and the effort and determination required to maintain it. In the modern era, when Americans and the world in general are pushing towards greater connectivity and development, they are struggling to hold onto what they have—and often fighting back against the authority they wish to escape. Although the stories of these alternative lives are varied, all are truly incredible.
Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America (Penguin Original; On-Sale: July 27, 2010; ISBN 978-0-14-311738-4; $15.00)