Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thinking Outside the Grid

As fate would have it, about a week after I made my decision to build an off-grid house, the Taos area experienced a gas outage that lasted several days, which nicely reinforced the value of living off-grid.  As I listened to radio updates that cautioned people to drastically reduce their use of electricity because of the overload on the grid due to the increased use of electric heaters, it became very clear to me that living on the grid is a form of enslavement.

I've just finished reading Off the Grid, by Nick Rosen, and it has definitely given me food for thought.  The main thing I've been thinking about is what "the grid" actually is.  The obvious definition is the electrical grid, but as Rosen points out, that definition has been extended to include any public utilities, and even the ecopolitical structure as a whole.  In the book, he travels around America talking to people who live off-grid, and for different people that means different things and is prompted by different motives.  But what he points out is that these motives can be classified very simply as either fear-based or from "a sense of joy."  

What the gas outage experience brought home for me is that I do not want to be dependent for the basics of physical survival and comfort on entities whose primary purpose is to make a profit off me, especially when said entities, and my cooperation with them, are contributing to the illness of the planet.  However, I operate in life on the principle that ultimately I can only be enslaved by the grid of my own thoughts, emotions, and corresponding responses, which is why my decision to build off-grid was prompted by a sense of purpose and joy, not a feeling of enslavement.  

I'm certainly aware of the ways things are falling apart and the dangers of the world we live in, but I choose not to live in fear, and so I don't give my attention to those things any more than necessary.  The freedom of building an off-grid house for me is not so much freedom from a system as freedom to create.  It's a subtle but important distinction that makes all the difference in the world.  


  1. I hadn't realised Nick Rosen had written an off-grid book based on American off-grid lifestyles. He did one in the UK that I read maybe a year ago, and found very interesting. Sounds as if everything's going well!

  2. I so agree with your home project. Living off the grid is something, really, that I've never known much about. I can't imagine that the world with "everyone" living off the grid yet, I believe there is a lot of room for that to happen. The trick for me then is to find ways "on" the grid that I can conserve and preserve the planet. Thanks for sharing this home building - it is fascinating to consider!


  3. "However, I operate in life on the principle that ultimately I can only be enslaved by the grid of my own thoughts, emotions, and corresponding responses,"

    This spoke to me this morning. Enslavement of ourselves from ourselves.

    I have been considering the ways I keep myself from expanding and it is a good reminder for me this morning that THIS truth is what I can control. Thank you

  4. Tess - Rosen's book is definitely interesting reading. I was a bit miffed though that he seems to have some sort of prejudice against New Mexico and the Mesa in particular.

    SS - Thanks for your support! Yes, on grid or off, it's really about awareness and doing what we can. God forbid I ever become a holier-than-thou-off-gridder.

    Jennifer - Graeme and I actually had a conversation about this last night, in the context of the evil in the world. I love that I have a son who totally gets that we can only experience things as evil if we choose to perceive them that way.

  5. So right about the distinction in how you perceive things. I'd love to see Morgan Spurlock do a documentary on the Mesa. Bet it would be a little more balanced than Nick Rosen's.