Off the Grid by Nick Rosen
Penguin Paperback Original / On Sale: July 27, 2010
The main requirement is a change of mind-set. Americans are happy and proud to buy and use recycled toilet paper, but a composting toilet is another matter, a level most people won’t even think about. Most Americans are taught, or at the very least encouraged to believe, that homes must be a certain way. Well before the invention of TV, marketers pushed “ideal lifestyle” scenarios that included fridges and washing machines and electric gadgets of all kinds. The power companies, of course, subsidized the development and marketing of these products, and intentionally or not, dependence on the grid became a fact of life in America. Living in homes that are the exceptions to this rule are hippies and traditional back woodsmen (and women).
The crunchy granola off-gridders—environmentalists and other anti-capitalists—are just part of the story. The other big off-the-grid grouping is made up of right-wing survivalists, veterans, and traditional good ol’ boys who were never on the grid in the first place.
Like many millions of Americans, they are losing faith in the ability of the state to fulfill its basic functions—to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak and to regulate the markets. The final straw was the triumph of the “banksters” (and insurers and hedge-fund managers) in keeping their jobs, barring a few layoffs. It was quite a trick the financial community pulled, scamming the world for billions of dollars through the real estate bubble, and then hanging on to the money while the rest of the world scrabbled around to keep them solvent. The anger is still palpable, and off-grid real estate may be the only remaining answer for many. It sure beats shaking your fist at the TV set.
I should point out that I am not an American. The collapse in trust, however, is global. With the global economy in danger, many believe that what’s needed is a glocal (global and local) solution.
Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Off The Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America by Nick Rosen. Copyright © 2010 by Nick Rosen.