Monday, January 28, 2013

Recommended Read: Off The Grid

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”  -HDT

Recently I finished the book, Off The Grid by Nick Rosen. (Thank you for the suggestion, Jake C!)  I thought I had a pretty good grip on things when it came to being environmentally conscious, but this book has proven to me just how little I know. I'm barely scratching the surface.

Nick opens with a history of the greedy, short-sided deals that have gone down in our country since electricity and on demand water supply came onto the scene. Needless to say, my bloodpressure maintained a much higher level as I read through those chapters. I'd like to say I'm surprised, or that I never expected the truth to be as such, but I'm not. I've learned from many of my other research endeavors into various industries like agriculture and 'meat factories', that these broken systems all have a common greed-laced history of back door deals, and coverups, and more often than not, the long reaching negative affects surface years later to trouble the everyday citizens of this country- NOT those responsible. Someone is always trying to save a buck or make a buck- and who cares about the long run! I can't stand that mentality. How do they sleep at night?

My natural disdain for being dependent on monstrous corporations was finally affirmed. Did you know that in the beginning, the first electric companies spent more- and I mean A LOT more- on advertising to convince American families that they needed electricity? See, they had power, and lots of gadgets to use up that power, but no one was buying. So at one point- American citizens across the board viewed electricity as something 'extra' or 'fancy'. Big media won out in the end however, and now, we have slowly changed our lives at their coaxing- and we rely heavily on many electronic devices. Our lives are inundated with them- cell phones, microwaves, refrigerators, TVs, stereo systems, vacuum cleaners, computers, etc... making it very hard to walk away from electricity.

Nick Rosen - thank you for spreading the word!
I found that as I read this book, my own feelings on why I want to live a simpler life became more clear and concise. I was also humbled as I read the accounts and responses that various people in the book had.  It was clear that they drew upon many years of thought, and true life experience as they explained to Nick how they look at life and why they choose to live the way they do.   My own thoughts and beliefs resonate deeply with many of these folks. The most common theme: TRUE independence and respect for the planet by living deliberately. Sure there were sketch-bags, society's outcasts, and conspiracy nuts--but there was an overwhelming amount of level headed individuals that simply had had enough.

One couple decided to change their lives after losing power for 12 weeks. Since they depended on external sources, they were at the mercy of the utility company, which restored power to areas that earned them the most money first-- of course. I can't imagine what it would be like to suddenly go without, especially when we've grown so dependent, and very few of us are ready to handle any sustained period of time- if and when the power goes out.

Anyways- I won't re-tell the book, but I fanatically recommend this read to anyone who is into- or is even just curious- about living off-grid. It's not a how to book, but more of a look at the people already living the lifestyle, where in the country they are, and what it's like to live off-grid in those areas.

I have started the Humanure Handbook. WOW. I'm loving it and learning so much! Yes there are the saddening statistics of how much waste and pollution we create, but there are also the redeeming facts of how down-right amazing the micro-organisms of this world are! Thermophilic bacteria, in my eyes, is the answer to how we clean this planet up. More on this next time...

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Perserverance & Perspective

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”  -HDT

I put this sign up on the fridge, to remind us day in and day out that we must keep looking. Every day we must search for things we need, because you never know what kind of deal will come along. We've already had some great experiences and exciting deals. I'm looking forward to more! Finding an entry door with a full window was challenging and it took several weeks of perusing Craigslist.

I'm happy to report that we are already off to a great start, we have our trailer, and all of our windows and door. That's a good chunk! Next, I'm looking out for insulation, flooring, and interior paneling.

Here is a spreadsheet I'm maintaining for kicks (and encouragement). I've listed all the items we have bought so far, and included the average price we would have paid at the chain home improvement stores as well as what we actually paid the individual seller.

If I would have bought everything from retail I would be staring at a bill fast approaching $8000...thanks to looking for the deals- we've only spent $2000!

I enjoy this two-fold. Not only are we saving a lot of money on high quality materials, but there are many opportunities to purchase reclaimed items. I'm hoping that I'll be able to find some nice reclaimed wood flooring!

So there's my piece on perserverance. I will happily invest a little of my time to save a lot of my money! ;)

Now on to perspective.

I'm sure you all can relate, sometimes you get so wrapped up in a project or passion, that you forget the whole world doesn't know what you know. I'm surprised how many people I talk to that still have not heard of tiny houses. The movement is growing by the day-- or at least that's how it feels to me. I see more and more articles coming from bigger sources. But then again, I inundate myself with newsletters, articles, photos- all things tiny!

I'm trying to be more cogniscent of the fact that Dan and I are fish out of water where we currently live. Things eco-friendly tend to take a while to get to the East coast, and when they do, it usually starts in New Hampshire and Vermont. Rhode Island is not far away, but it sure feels like it sometimes.

Remember those books that I borrowed to start my reading? Well, of the four books, each one came from a different library location, none were from my own library. Naturally, as the sloth reader I am, I renewed  them. When I tried to renew again, I was told that I would have to call each location and ask for an override. I returned one book, so I only had to make three phone calls.

Ok, so maybe I wasn't surprised
about nobody else wanting
to read about poop...

In two of the three cases, I was told,
 "This is the only copy in the entire system."

It really opened my eyes. Of the four books I borrowed, two were the one single copy in the entire state of Rhode Island. I'm certainly greatful they were even available to me, but I was immediately struck with a couple questions.

What does this say about my goals and
interests vs those of the general public?
What does it say about the state of Rhode Island
in comparison to others when it comes to
environmentally conscious and innovative ideas?

Oh probably not much, I think it's pretty much me, seniors, and kids K-5 that use the library anyways. :p

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