What are your super skills?

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How do you get what you need and want if you have little or no money to buy? I assume you have some sort of skills, something you know how to do and can do it pretty well… there must be something you can do, maybe it’s a job you do or have done in the past (or present), maybe it’s a hobby you enjoy, maybe it’s a talent you have, whatever it is, you can offer that skill in trade for something you need or want.

This is called “Bartering”, it’s an age old method of trade rather than using money, it just cuts out the middleman, you simply trade your skills with someone who needs what you can do for something they have, whether it’s a skill they posses, or an item, or even cold hard cash.

For me, I am able to do things that not everyone knows how to do or wants to do. I used to be a licensed cosmetologist, which is a fancy way of saying I know how to cut hair. I actually don’t enjoy cutting hair, which is why I don’t do it professionally anymore, I did it for 10 years, I paid off the student loan I got to go to school to do hair, the only reason I stayed in it the last few years is I was offered a management position in a department store salon and thought it would be interesting. It was interesting, until I developed another interest, computers.

But that skill is something that not everyone knows how to do, honestly I kept it a secret for quite a few years after moving to our off grid home. Little by little though, the news got out, I still keep it on the downlow, but people still ask me to cut their hair and I usually agree. I don’t do the ultra modern cuts, mostly just men’s haircuts and traditional haircuts for women, and no chemical processes, no color, no perms… just haircuts.

One of my neighbors (and good friends) get haircuts about once a month, they have chickens, lots of chickens, which means they have eggs, lots of eggs, so I get eggs from them and they get haircuts from me. We do other things for each other as well, he sharpened my work knife for me a few days ago, yes that is something I could do, but I asked him to do it for me while I was cutting his wife’s hair.

A few days ago, while cutting another friend’s hair, yet another neighbor and friend stopped by, I ended up giving him a haircut in return for some metal sheets to use for the roof on a carport that PB is building for me. That wasn’t planned, it just happened. In this process, I am very careful about sanitation, I keep a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol in my kit, everything gets sprayed and sanitized between “customers”, it doesn’t matter if I’m working in a salon, or in my front yard, I must use common sense, I must protect myself and my friends by keeping things sanitary.

Another “skill” I posses is I am pretty good at fixing computers. I am no computer expert, but I know enough and have the patience to be able fix problems, be it hardware or software, I’ve been able to fix what has been put in front of me to date. Again, I’m trading out services for either things I can’t do or for things I don’t have.

Did you know that there is even an IRS section for bartering? I know that because I used to “work” at a country store in the center of our neighborhood, I didn’t earn a paycheck, but rather I was paid in barter, I earned an hourly “wage” that was traded for goods at the store, food, snacks, medicine, fuel… I had worked consistently before that and knew I would probably work a regular job after that, I didn’t want the IRS to wonder why I had dropped out of the system, so when I found the section for bartering, I put in my “wages” there, I never had to pay tax on any of it, there just wasn’t that much financially involved, but it kept me in the system and off their radar.

If you are just trading on a small scale, then obviously you don’t need to let the government know about it.

Another way we barter is for our water. We get our water from our next door neighbor’s well, in exchange we look after his house while he’s out of town. We also do upkeep and cleaning on his house, small maintenance, the normal things that need looking after on a regular basis. It works out well for both of us.

Think about what your skills are, even something you don’t think of as significant, it can be a lifesaver if you find yourself in need of something and don’t have the means to pay for it. It’s best to have your network in place first though, you don’t want to have to go out and find someone in need of your skills right when you are needing something yourself. Word of mouth works wonders here, having your skills out there ahead of time means it will be easier and quicker to get what you need when the time comes.

So, what are your skills? Do you barter now? Let me know in the comments below!

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Is rooftop solar a challenge to power companies?

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electric meter

As more and more people are installing solar panels on their roof, I hear my friends talking about wanting to do grid tied solar so that they can make their electric meters run backwards and get a check from the electric company. I always hate to burst their bubbles, it is possible to do that, but it’s never as easy as it seems.

The electric companies are there to make money, that’s their bottom line, nothing wrong with that, but they will protect their ability to earn a profit at every turn. They need to be able to maintain the infrastructure they have developed that gets electricity from point A to point B and beyond. When just a few people were putting solar panels on their rooftops, it wasn’t a problem, but once solar panels came down in price and more people could afford them, it is becoming more commonplace to see solar panels adorning rooftops in neighborhoods.

Earning money from the power companies is a bit more complicated than just turning your meter backwards when you are generating more power than you are using. Many power companies would require a second separate meter to measure how much electricity you were putting back into the grid. They didn’t pay you what you were paying them per kilowatt either, just like any other industry, there is a wholesale and retail price. You are paying the retail price for your power, anything you sell back to the power company is done at wholesale price.

The power companies are trying to keep themselves ahead of the game, some are experimenting with charging extra fees if you are generating your own power while their customer, though in the case of the power company in the podcast, they quickly dumped that idea. They state that they aren’t trying to stop people from using solar, but are trying to make it work for everyone.

Listen to the show and let me know what you think.

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No go shopping

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no go shopping

Are you ready for no go shopping? What is no go shopping you ask? It’s when you live out in the boonies and there isn’t a place to go shopping within a reasonable distance. Where I live, it’s 20+ miles into the nearest town, takes about a half hour if everything is going right, of course there is the stopping to chat with a neighbor on the road, then the stopping to chat with a neighbor at the mailboxes… then when you get to town, you are likely to find someone to chat with, and at the store, no getting around the fact that you will most likely find someone to chat with there, so going to town for a quick trip to the grocery store isn’t going to be quick after all.

Where I live, if you want to go anywhere with real shopping, I’m talking malls, big chain grocery stores, WalMart, Sam’s Club, real restaurants and the such, it’s a good 3 hour drive at highway speeds. It’s something we don’t do very often, maybe a monthly thing at best, it’s usually more a quarterly thing, well planned and executed, it’s at least a day trip and sometimes requires an overnight stay.

What do we get in return for no go shopping? Well, living where there aren’t many other people for one, it’s nice to not hear or see your closer neighbors most of the time. It’s quiet, dark at night, and private.

We have come to rely on delivery services for many of our purchases, besides groceries (I wish we could order more grocery items) we can order just about anything we could want out here. I am an Amazon Prime member, it’s paid for itself many times over, it’s something I pay for each year without fail. I know my UPS delivery driver by name, I know the FedEx drivers too, though they seem to go through many more of them than the UPS company. Of course there is also USPS, we all know our postal workers, the only problem is our mailboxes are some 6 miles from my home, so for me, it’s more convenient to order things that will come UPS or FedEx so it gets delivered directly to my home.

I don’t even mind the few day wait, I know if I were to go to the closer town to buy what I would order, first if it was even available, it would be very expensive, taxed and I’d still have to wait a day or two before I’d be able to go there. If I planned to go to the bigger farther town, it might be a week or more before I could get out there, so it’s better for me to order through Amazon Prime and get it in 2 days, delivered to my door.

I just ordered a pair of boots, some socks (gotta have new socks to go with the new boots LOL), and some 200 clear plastic 5X7 sleeves. The boots and socks are obvious, but what’s up with 200 clear plastic sleeves? I’m finally getting my photos printed up to sell in one of the shops in town, actually several shops, I need to protect the prints, I can’t imagine where all I would have to go to pick up just those 3 things in a physical store.

So what do you prefer, shopping in a brick and mortar store or shopping online? Let me know below 🙂

Hate shopping?
Survivalist shopping list

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Digital Detox: let your mind off-grid

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Digital Detox, phone, smartphone, social media, internet, camp, off-grid, technology

We need to stop looking down and start looking up!

Rising heart rate, a sense of panic, breathing becoming shallow and inconsistent. It is highly likely that you have experienced these very symptoms at some point during your life. Perhaps you were in a confined space, feeling claustrophobic, or you were in a large crowd feeling disorientated….or perhaps you misplaced or lost your smart phone. Maybe you hadn’t even lost it, but the battery symbol was flashing red – oh no my cell’s going to die! If this sounds like you or someone you know, chances are you have smartphone separation anxiety – a.k.a. “nomophobia”. This has led to the need for us to have a digital detox.

What is “nomophobia”?

This term was coined in 2010 and relates to the feelings of anxiety linked to losing your phone, having no network coverage or when your battery is running low. Researchers at Iowa State University have found that there are four main components to nomophobia. The first is the fear of not being able to communicate with people or being in contact; the second is losing connectedness in general; the third not being able to access information and the fourth is not having the convenience that a smartphone brings. Watch the video below from Iowa State University to find out more about nomophobia.

But why does this anxiety happen?

Smartphones and technology have many benefits, but it has also infiltrated every aspect of our daily lives. Let’s face it, we rely on our phones an enormous amount – because they can do so much! Need directions? Check a date in the calendar? Don’t know the answer to a question? Need to make a call? More often than not, we all reach for our phone. If we think about it, they organise and navigate our daily lives more than we think.

Research has shown that we rely on our devices as much as we rely on a life partner. That is a scary thought – surely a device can’t replace someone as important as a spouse or significant other? The psychology behind this subconscious thought process though is very interesting. If we have a reliable source of external information on a specific topic, then we are less motivated and likely to remember that information for ourselves. If we need the answer to something we go to our reliable information source.

Before now, these reliable sources of information would take the form of people, and to some extent still do. For example, my dad knows a lot about cars I however, live in blissful ignorance and know very little. But I know all too well I can go to him for help so I am less motivated to learn and retain information about anything car-related.  The exact same process happens in our brains except now we don’t turn to people for help, we turn to our smartphones. Why should we bother remembering things when we can ask Siri? This reliance has led to what scientists are calling “digital dementia” – reduced cognitive abilities related to the overuse of gadgets.

It’s not just Digital Dementia we have to worry about

Digital detox, online, technology, smartphone, off-grid, mind, mental

Even when we’re on holiday, we’re still connected to our phones and technology – no online detoxing happening!

There are plenty of other health impacts from the overuse of our devices. Staring at phones and screens for extended periods of time, especially in low light, can lead to eye strain and headaches. The blue light can also impact our sleep patterns, especially with use just before sleep. After all, who isn’t tempted to check your favourite social media site just one last time before you close your eyes? Plus using social media sites in place of social interactions with actual people, can also lead to depression and anxiety. Constantly comparing yourself to others through an Instagram filter or the selfies on Facebook can impact your self-esteem.

Decreases in physical activity are also common place. After a long day at work, it’s very tempting to veg out in front of the television, laptop, i-pad, or pick up your phone to keep connected.

We need a Digital Detox

So far it’s all sounding pretty doom and gloom isn’t it? But there is hope on the horizon, in the form of a digital detox. A study, funded by company Kovert Designs, observed 35 people with no gadgets in the Moroccan Desert. The results were astounding. After four days researchers observed improved posture with greater eye contact being made during conversations. Memory also improved as people were more present in conversations instead of having one eye on their phone, meaning they were better able to process and store more information from the conversation. Remembering finer details from conversations also helps people to build stronger bonds and relationships with each other. Improved sleep patterns were also seen as the participants weren’t checking phones before sleeping. Therefore, their melatonin levels weren’t suppressed, enabling them to have a more uninterrupted night’s sleep.

An off-grid mind set

The results of the study have shown that digitally detoxing can have health benefits as well as improving your relationships with those around you. It also helps stem your whirring mind and unplug from the world for a short while – which is no bad thing!

Companies like Digital Detox, offer retreats providing off-grid accommodation and workshops – no digital technology allowed! The idea behind these retreats is to disconnect with the online world and reconnect with your sense of self. Camp Grounded, Mendocino, California is set in a beautiful 2,000 acres of woodland and described as a pure, unadulterated camp for grown-ups! Hiking through the countryside, practising mindfulness and yoga, as well as art and writing workshops are all a part of this all-inclusive program. Testimonials from Digital Detox include it being a “rejuvenating time” and a “transformational experience”.

The next Camp Grounded retreat offered by Digital Detox is from May 20th to May 23rd with tickets starting at $695 based on options chosen.

 

What can you do day to day?

If you don’t have the funds to spend a long weekend detoxing from your smartphone device, there are some things you can do at home. Tania Mulry, a digital marketing guru gave some tips on having an immediate digital detox in a TEDx talk at La Sierra University.

  • Turn off your notifications to quiet unnecessary noise from all of those apps.
  • Get rid of toxic apps and pages that bait you into wasting hours of your life by dragging you into commenting.
  • Go into Airplane mode, just because it’s in the title doesn’t mean this has to be solely used for airplanes. This takes you out of the rat race of notifications until you’re ready to reconnect with the online world.
  • Set a time in the evening after which you don’t touch your devices and gadgets, this will help you settle back into a healthy sleep pattern without your melatonin levels being interrupted.
  • Occupy your free time with a new hobby instead of filling your time with scrolling through screens.
  • Deepen connections with those around you by interacting face to face rather than through an online device.

See the full TED Talk from Digital Marketer Tania Mulry about the need for a Digital Detox.

You might like:

Simplify Your Life: Disconnect to Reconnect

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Experimental Tech in Desert Village

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off-grid village, desert, village, platform, technology, Israel,

An off-grid village in the dry desert has become the place to develop solutions for off-grid living in undeveloped communities.

An off-grid desert village in Kibbutz Ketura, Israel is being used as a platform for tech companies and entrepreneurs to develop innovative off-grid technologies. The village was set up in 2014 via a collaboration between the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative. The project is aimed at developing off-grid solutions for undeveloped areas, encouraging experimentation. It is the key step between development and implementation in areas where whole communities have no grid access.

There are four key areas for off-grid living which are currently being developed and worked on in the village.

Desert Village Building:

There are three types of structure in the village, based on existing building types within in off-grid communities. The rural structure is based on a traditional design and has a thatched roof to help with ventilation, but lacks natural light. Therefore, to adapt it, the village has added windows to the buildings to provide natural light for reading and other activities, as well as providing more ventilation.

The urban structure is based on a design most commonly seen in urban slums. The modifications to this design are the double roof structure and wall insulation. The first roof layer is made of palm leaves for ventilation purposes and the second consists of metal for protection against the rain. Plywood walls have insulator material like sheep wool within the wall to keep thermal balance in the building. The structure is mainly based on plywood which is low priced and the design is simple to construct.

Finally, the earthbag dome design was first developed in the 1980s, using soil sacks to construct huts. The bags of soil provide a rigid, stable structure with a balance of temperature. There is no need for deep foundations or a separate roof structure, due to the dome shape. These buildings are rapid to construct, simple and cheap.

Energy:

The desert village has some different energy technologies within its boundaries. The Kalipack solar suitcase can produce energy from three sources – electricity, a vehicle or solar power. Storage takes the form of a lithium ion battery and can power a small refrigerator, laptop or lighting, amongst other things. The village also has a small domestic biogas system which has efficient waste disposal whilst producing methane gas for cooking, water heating and home lighting.

LuminAID have introduced some chargeable and easy to use solar lighting. But GravityLights have also been developed at the village. These work by combining kinetic energy with potential energy. A weight of some sort is elevated and connected to a pulley system which powers a generator. The result is a light which is five times brighter than a kerosene lamp. Surveys with families using the lights have been very positive so far.

Water:

Clearly something that is very important in every community is clean water. The desert village has a solar water distillation system developed by SunDwater. This technology converts contaminated water to drinkable clean water through a process of concentrated radiation, requiring no external energy source. Plus, it’s completely green and eco-friendly. NUFiltration have also developed a water purifier unit in the desert village which provides waste water treatment. Once again, easy to use, requires no electricity and produces 500 litres of clean water per hour. There’s also no maintenance or spare parts required as it’s all done using man power! The village also has a solar powered water pumping system for agriculture and farming.

Food:

We all need fuel and that means food! The village has a hydroponics system developed called the LivingBox. These modular units are like Lego, therefore they can be fitted together and remodelled to suit different needs. They can grow a wide variety of fruit and veg and save up to 80% of water that would be used in other techniques. Solar ovens and cookers are used for cooking food. Plus, an energy generating pot has been developed which produces electricity from a heat source. The pot can then be used as a charging point for phones and other devices.

These are just some of the developed technologies that are in the village. Check out this video below to find out more about renewable energy in the Off-grid demonstration village!

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Where to drop out in the USA

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Nipton Hotel

You may never leave

Does your life ever get you to the point where you want to just drop out and leave the system behind? Here are four options for starters. There are many more – you can hook up with others using our free classified ads service or posting on our searchable map – landbuddy.com

NIPTON
In the Mojave desert town of Nipton, the spirit of the western frontier has transformed a forgotten outpost into a self-sustaining ecotopia where the dream lives on.
A former long-haul trucker with a bowie knife strapped to his hip, Jim Eslinger serves as caretaker and hotelier of Hotel Nipton, its existence marked by a wagon-mounted sandwichboard that reads:
WELCOME TO NIPTON, CA B&B HOTEL & ECO-CABIN STORE, RV PARK & CAMPING RESTAURANT
Eslinger added a cluster of tented eco-cabins, outfitted with platform beds and wood-burning stoves.
A faded settlement of about 20 permanent residents, the town consisted of an assortment of structures, some solid and occupied, some as vacant and splintered as an Old West movie set. Computer Gamers might know Nipton for its cameo in Xbox 360’s Fallout: New Vegas, where it played a post-apocalyptic wasteland infested by giant mantises. But otherwise it was your typical drive-through desert community, fixed at the crossroads of Nowhere Special and Wherever You Were Going when Eslinger arrived. There was one notable exception: Nipton, and everything in it, was for sale.
There a cluster of tented eco-cabins, outfitted with platform beds and wood-burning stoves. Popular with today’s 30-something crowd, the cabins were based on a design by Frank Lloyd Wright. There is a solar plant, which produces 40 percent of the town’s power. It sits on the outskirts behind a barbed wire fence, its rows of reflecting harvesters mirroring the sun as it moves across the sky.
There is a hydrogen system in order to store clean energy.
The town of Nipton is for sale.

KALANI HONUA
A solar-powered village tucked away on 120 acres of lush Hawaiian rain forest sounds a lot like Lost: Season 3, but it’s actually an eco-minded retreat center in one of the best areas in the state to drop out. Here in the heart of the Big Island’s Puna District, residents and volunteers are busy harvesting papaya and avocado, cooking farm-to-table meals, and taking classes in hula and tauhala weaving. Book a night in one of their cottages, pop in for a gong bath, or grab some honey produced from the on-site apiary. From $95; kalani.com.

SYNCHRONICITY
There’s no rule that says you must drop out in a rural location with hippies running nude through the woods. Case in point: Synchronicity, a creative community set in L.A.’s bustling Koreatown. Though a small group of artists calls it home, the door is always open to guests, who can stop by for weeknight dinners and a monthly art salon. There’s even a private room on hand for passersby to crash, free of charge up to a week, though payment in the form of a cooked meal, live performance, or carpentry is accepted. synchronicityla.com.

ARCOSANTI
Set on 860 acres overlooking central Arizona’s Agua Fría River valley, Arcosanti tweaks modern means to live greener. The late founder Paolo Soleri encouraged his town to live leaner-efficiently making use of labor, space, and design to create a place that’s elegant and resourceful. Drawing some 50,000 tourists each year, the sleek mini city amid the prickly pear and cottonwood trees offers guided tours, workshops, live music performances, and a gallery of intricate wind bells that are built by residents and serve as a perfect souvenir. Not so much a home for dropouts as a place to drop in. arcosanti.org.

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6 Hot Springs you must visit

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Hot Springs, off-grid, water, solar, geothermal, retreat, off the beaten track

Fancy a dip?

Hot springs offer much-needed peace, quiet and relaxation. The naturally occurring, geothermally heated bliss provided in beautiful surroundings is second to none. Plus, if you don’t want to be in a more developed hot spring spa, there are plenty of options to exploreoff-the-beaten-track . Here are 6 off-grid hot springs you definitely need to visit!

If you want off the beaten track then try:

Ringbolt Hot Springs – Arizona

Located in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, this set of pools is visited by thousands of people per year. A 6 mile round trail takes you up through a dramatic volcanic canyon, south of the Hoover Dam. Volcanic rock and granite boulders litter the landscape and lead you to a spot just downstream of the Ringbolt Rapids. After climbing a 20 foot ladder to access the best springs you can bathe to your heart’s content. Directly at the source of the springs the water is the warmest, reaching up to 110°F. The highly mineralized water spews out of the source at approximately 30 gallons per minute! The strenuous hike takes approximately 5 hours to complete (excluding time spent bathing in those beautiful springs) and is closed during the summer months due to it being hazardous because of high temperatures.

Read this couple’s experience of trekking and camping in the area. Alternatively, watch this father and son duo take the trail up through the canyon and reach their destination:

 

Steep Ravine Hot Springs – California

These hot springs are rather unique, trading mountainous vistas for a beach front! The warm water seeps up through the sand at the Steep Ravine Beach in Marin County. These springs are quite a phenomenon, only being exposed for a couple of hours a day. Therefore, it is important to consult a Californian Tide Chart and opt for a minus tide, to avoid disappointment. However, due to the very slight window in the day in which the springs can be accessed it can get rather busy! It’s worth it though, even just to paddle in these warm waters.

 

Goldbug Hot Springs – Idaho

Between the small towns of Salmon and Challis, high up in the desert, lies a chain of six waterfall fed pools. These small but perfectly formed features are accessed by a very up-hill 2 mile hike. The trail offers little shade for respite and the majority of the climb is done in the last quarter of the trek. The pools are a definite reward after that steep incline! Water temperature varies depending on the time of year, so don’t dive in (literally) until you’ve judged the temperature with a hand or foot first! Be warned clothing is optional at the pools, so don’t be surprised if you see some not entirely clothed hikers in the area.

For other hot springs in Idaho, check this out.

 

If you want a bit of luxury, then visit:

Wilbur Hot Springs – California

This is an off-grid sanctuary, providing a natural digital detox from the very on-grid, tech-loving world. The solar-powered resort is set in the heart of a 1,800 acre nature preserve, and it has its own hot mineral springs. The geothermal water contains 3 ounces of dissolved minerals per gallon and is undiluted, untreated and unheated. This is a true relaxation haven with massage treatments and yoga sessions also available. You can take a day trip, or camping grounds, cabins and a solar lodge are all available, giving the option to extend your stay.

Watch this video to get your first impressions of Wilbur Hot Springs:

 

Strawberry Park Hot Springs – Colorado

Up a winding track a few miles out of Steamboat springs, lies this beautiful off-grid retreat. No big signs point to its location and during the winter only big 4x4s are allowed up dirt road. Alternatively, the springs can be reached via a 3 mile trail through the surrounding national forest. This has a real off-the-beaten-track feel. Several large soaking pools with warm to rather hot waters are available next to a cold creek for some cooling off. During the day the springs are family friendly, however during the evening an optional clothes policy means adults only! The resort is currently working on replacing their solar panels, batteries and controllers to keep their off-grid status.

Watch the video below to get a feel of Strawberry Park Hot Springs:

 

Breitenbush Hot Springs – Oregon

Last but not least, is the remote forest sanctuary named Breitenbush. In 154 acres of beautiful landscape including a glacier fed river, an ancient forest and mountains on the horizon, sanctuary really is the right word. Three natural pools with smooth river rocks allow you to sit back and take in the beautiful landscape. Temperatures range from warm to very hot, with a cool plunge pool available to cool off. Powered by hydroelectric from the nearby Breitenbush River and heated by the geothermal water, this sanctuary is entirely off-grid. Hiking throughout the surrounding landscape, massage treatments and several “Well-Being” programs are also available.

 

Have you visited any of these places or been to other hot springs not mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!

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Calor Gas offers up to £5,000

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Bottled Gas is a gas

They want the world to love them

Bottled Gas supplier Calor Gas is offering funding of up to £5,000 for schemes that will improve life in off-grid communities.

Calor Gas spokesman Paul Blacklock said: “We provide energy to homes and businesses and understand the challenges country living can pose, especially when it comes to community facilities. Projects we support could be anything from community centres, village halls and sporting venues to youth clubs and Scout groups, or they could be initiatives to support the elderly.

“Entries open on April 3. We will be encouraging the whole community to get on board by voting for their favourite.”

Calor Gas Limited (Calor), a subsidiary of SHV Holdings N.V. is an energy service company that provides liquefied petroleum gas supply and other energy services. The company offers products and services such as home energy supply, boiler and heating services, gas bottles, Calor liquefied petroleum gas autogas, and renewable energy for residential customers. It offers LPG solutions for FLT, fork lift truck training, heating solutions, radiant heating, warm air heating, wet system heating, water heating, farming wit LPG, and servicing and maintenance, among others to business customers. The company also sells gas cylinders, outdoor living, commercial appliances, in the home, and solid fuel pallets. Calor is headquartered in Warwick, the UK.

Calor Gas Limited Competitors include

Alpha Petroleum Resources Limited

FCL Petroleum Limited

Gasrec Ltd

Linton Fuel Oils

Sonatrach Petroleum Corporation

BOC Group Limited

 

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Ten Tiny House Companies you NEED to know about

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Tiny House, off-grid, build your own, retirees, retirement, small, mini, houses, homes, self sustaining

Good things come in tiny packages

There’s no doubt about it, the tiny house movement has well and truly taken off. Please let us know your favorites (news@off-grid.net). Extreme downsizing has become very popular, with a smaller space offering easier upkeep and lower utility bills. The average tiny house is 186 square feet – truly tiny! With prices of building your own tiny home being around $23,000 on average (remember Joseph’s upcycled shipping container home?) it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular. Even having someone else build you a tiny house, prices start around the $45,000 mark. This is a great deal cheaper than the price of the average American home which runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Therefore, a good many tiny house owners do not have a mortgage, giving financial peace of mind.

A survey conducted in 2015 by TheTinyLife.com found that retirees are becoming a large proportion of tiny house owners. The results showed that 30% of just 2,000 respondents were aged between 51-70 years. Of course this makes sense, as people reach retirement age downsizing is common practice – and you can’t downsize much more than a tiny home! When looking for a tiny house when you’re not as young and nimble as you used to be, it is important to look out for certain features. These include: easy to reach storage to reduce awkward stooping and stretching; a single storey tiny house, or a main floor bedroom – avoid loft sleeping areas with ladders! Accessibility is also important; whether this be wide doorways, walk in showers, ramp access or building low to the ground.

Here are ten tiny house companies, offering retiree appropriate (and non-retiree) products which could very well seal the deal for you!

 

Zyl Vardos Inc – Washington State

Based out of the Squirrel Hut mini-office in Olympia, Washington, Zyl Vardos builds unique and customisable small structures. The tiny house products offered vary in price from $45,000 to above $96,000. Currently their website showcases 10 of the tiny houses offered, but if you fancy having one designed to your own specification, that is also possible.

Their “Little Bird” Basic option is one of build options available. Coming in at $68,000, with a  22 ft x 8 ft floor space, this home has a copper roof and cedar exterior. With a single French door, 6 windows and a kitchenette, this tiny house has everything you would need. The bed nook happily fits a queen mattress, with room to spare, and a flush or compost toilet can be fitted.

If you would like to upgrade to the “Advanced” option of the Little Bird you can – for an extra $10,000. This upgraded model includes a tiled bathroom floor, oak floors, double French doors, expanded kitchen storage amongst other features. Custom options for a retiree such as wider doorways and a raised toilet can be included at an additional feel.

Zyl Vardos have a building slot available in June 2017, so if this has piqued your interest or you want to let your imagination run free with your own design – contact them. Their YouTube Channel, also gives some great insights into their range of tiny houses!

Tumbleweed Houses – Colorado State

A variety of options await you with the ability to design your perfect tiny house in less than 10 minutes! Base model prices begin at $62,950, with the Cypress and its recess porch being the most popular. Each model can either be 20ft or 26ft in length, offering 188 square feet and 269 square feet of space respectively.  The floor plan options can be customised to your needs, so you can truly put your stamp on the build.

Designing your own tiny house involves you choosing everything from roof colour and window style to interior walls and extra features. Oak, Bamboo or Walnut flooring – the choice is yours! Cabinet colour? Which stairs to get to the loft? Warranty length? All of these choices and many more are placed directly in your hands, giving you a quote for the exact tiny house of your dreams. Off-grid options are also available.

Check out their gallery for some images of what some people have done with their amazing tiny spaces.

 

Escape Home – Wisconsin

This company offers a variety of RV model and park model RVs, which come with basic and custom packages. One of the larger park model options, the Getaway has 400 square foot of space. It comes with a full size bathroom, kitchen with all appliances and private bedroom with queen size bed. The beauty of this home is it is all on one floor, so no pesky stairs or ladders to bother with. Panoramic windows offer breath-taking views to the great outdoors, with the option of an open deck, screened porch or even a sun-room for that extra oomph. Retailing at $88,700, this is a more expensive option, but offers a larger space with plenty of storage and all the comforts of home.

Off-grid options like solar panels and composting toilets can also be added into the designs offered. Depending on the model and customisation options, your Escape can be built in as little as two months and can be delivered to you (charges variable).

To find out more, visit the FAQ section on the Escape website to get into the nitty gritty of these tiny houses.

 

Little House on the Trailer – California

Offering compact moveable, customisable housing and home care cottages from $49,500 what’s not to like? Although, technically Little House on the Trailer is not a tiny house company, the models they build are still on the small side at 400 square feet. The home care cottages are aimed at retirees, allowing parents to live in the backyards of their kids, whilst still having their independence and own space. The selling point of this company is the heavy involvement of the client with the design of the homes. The time it takes from design to delivery is on average 2-3 months. If you fancy seeing one of the models, their display yard is open Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm.

To see more of the beautiful small spaces Little House on the Trailer builds, take a look at their gallery!

 

Home Care Suites – Florida

Tiny House, tiny home, self sustaining, small, mini, retirees, retirement, off-grid

Surprisingly spacious – tiny homes offer a lot for their money.

Like Little House on the Trailer, this company specialises in building small cottages in the backyards of existing residents. Therefore, they are built on permanent foundations and the utilities are tied to the main residence. Aimed mostly at retirees, these tiny houses are also marketed as potential home offices or man caves! Ranging in size from 256 square foot to 588 square foot, there can be ample room inside these tiny houses.

Aiming for the middle ground, the single storey Floridian model comes in at a nicely sized 448 square feet. With a spacious living area, private bedroom with walk in closet, accessible bathroom with walk-in shower, this has everything you could possibly need. It is also fully customisable, so added extras are also possible. The price for this model is $85,000 – $100,000 depending on options chosen. The minimum price for their smallest tiny house is $55,000. These tiny homes typically take between 5 – 6 months to build.

Check out Home Care Suites’ floor plans to see if any are right for you, or even just for a bit of inspiration!

 

Minim Homes – Washington

Not as flexible as some of the other companies mentioned, the Minim House comes as a standard basic home unit. It does however have a few options for customisation. The 12 foot by 24 foot space has an aluminium clad door, six windows and a solid walnut floor. The kitchen area has a stainless sink with foot pedals for hot and cold water, whilst the 4 foot by 6 foot bathroom has a separate walk in shower. A low flush toilet comes as part of the build, or the customer can install a compost toilet at a reduced price. There are plenty of handy storage areas, for instance, the 5 foot sofa opens up to reveal hidden storage space.

Options to add on to the home include a trailer, extra windows and an off –grid package of solar system and refrigerator. The price for this mini home is $71,000 and can be delivered to you for an extra cost.

Check out this pdf document for more on what’s included in the Minim House and prices for optional extras.

 

Shopdog – New Mexico

This company builds tiny houses to suit any design and need and are fully customisable. However, there is one condition – it has to be fully off-grid and self-sustaining. Plus, they aim to build the whole thing out of recycled materials (or as much of it as they can). This is what they achieved with the “Steely Cottage”, a 200 square foot space built on a 24 foot by 8.5 foot trailer. With a self-contained solar system, a composting toilet and grey water drainage system, this tiny house can go absolutely anywhere. As long as there’s sunshine and water to fill the tank of course! Plus, with its full size shower and queen size mattress bed, who says good things don’t come in small packages! The Steely Cottage costs $50,000 and can be shipped for a fee.

 

Nelson Tiny Houses – British Columbia, Canada

This company offers two main styles of tiny house, the V House and the Acorn. From these the company can build something customised entirely by you. V is for versatile and that certainly suits the V House down to a T! A 120 square foot (8 foot by 15 foot) V House comes in at $35,000. However, this can be made larger – up to 250 square foot – double the size! Typically, each additional square foot is around $200.

Built to your specific needs, your tiny house can be furnished with custom built furniture. Alternatively, you can adapt the original floor plan to add rooms or multiple lofts for more storage. Really very versatile! Plus, the tiny house can be built to be fully off-grid. However the price tag does increase up to $10,000 for this. Typical building time for one of these projects is between 12 and 24 months depending on the specification.  Currently, the company only delivers to certain states in the US – Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Check out a tour of the V House, plus check out the Nelson Tiny House YouTube Channel!

Tiny Home Builders – Florida

Another company with a variety of models, which can be delivered nationwide! One model is even named “Tiny Retirement”. Designed specifically for retirees it is based on a single level – no stairs in sight! Plus, with the entryway located at one end of the building, this allows space for a bathroom at the other. This leaves plenty of room  in the rest of the space for a full size bed!

However, if you don’t want to buy a model with “retirement” in the title, the Tiny Studio model can be customised to your needs instead. Options such as slip resistant flooring and a ramp are available! This tiny house has 160 square foot of space with kitchen and dining space on a slightly raised level. Underneath this platform there is a roll-away bed which becomes seating space when put away. Plus, being built on a mobile trailer, the tiny studio can go anywhere – just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to stay in one place!

 

Creative Cottages – Maine

Last but by no means least is Creative Cottages, which create custom energy efficient homes using environmentally sensitive building practices. Their Oceanside Retreat is a beautifully crafted 422 square feet which is liveable all year round. A single storey layout, with bedroom, kitchen and bathroom facilities, whilst the sliding glass doors ensure there is lots of natural light, making it bright and airy. Custom built on foundations, this is a more expensive option compared to the other choices outlined above, coming in at $238,000.

Creative Cottages also only services the Mid-coast Maine area. However, there is the option to buy plans from them (at a cost of between £1,850 and $2,300) and hire a contractor to build your very own creative cottage elsewhere.

 

These are just some of the tiny house building companies out there. It is clear there is a wide range of scope and creativity when it comes to building these mini homes. But it is easy to understand why so many people have fallen in love with them.

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The trash on trash

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    The trash on trash

The trash on trash

When we lived in the city and had city services, one of the things that was taken care of with no thought at all was the trash. Two times a week, a big closed dump truck came by and took our trash from the curb, all we had to do was have it bagged up and set out by the curb. I remember hearing the trash truck coming and running to make sure the trash was all out there. We didn’t worry about how much trash we had, or how much room it took up as long as we weren’t getting low on trash bags.

The city did provide blue totes for recyclables, hoping the neighborhood would take the trouble to separate out some of their trash, cardboard, glass, and plastic, some of the neighbors did it, some didn’t, honestly it was just easier to put everything in a bag and drop it by the curb.

I also remember, that even then PB tended to condense our trash, he was a human powered trash compactor, crushing plastic and cardboard containers, we rinsed our food containers so it didn’t stink (and attract animals), things like milk jugs and glass bottles were stuffed with cut down plastic and paper trash so they wouldn’t be large empty spaces in the trash bags. We had fewer but heavier trash bags. PB also enjoyed going out and chatting with the trash guy as he helped toss our trash bags into the truck.

Move ahead several years and we are now living on a mountain side in far west Texas. We don’t have “local” trash pickup, not even in town. There is a trash service of sorts, you can rent a small dumpster that is kept in a central location in the neighborhood, many of our neighbors do that. They go in together, several households to a dumpster because of the cost, it’s several hundred dollars per year (over $300 last I heard). Dumpsters are very coveted, you don’t want to be seen putting your trash into someone elses dumpster.

There is a trash dump in town, it’s not a landfill though, the trash is put into large dumpsters and a company comes by and takes the trash away, presumably to a landfill in some other town. There are fees for using this place, a couple of dollars per trash bag, a set fee for a truck or trailer load. We have used this place before and it’s pretty convenient, they even have recycling dumpsters that are free to use, for cardboard, plastic and glass.

Honestly though, we take care of our own trash most of the time. First of all, we generate very little trash, especially as compared to everyone else, I really notice it when we have visitors stay over or when I’m at someone else’s house. Before trash is even generated, I am considerate of what I buy, what kind of packaging it comes in. Paper and cardboard are the best, this can be burned, whether as fire starter in the wood burning stove, or outside in the burn barrel. Plastics get condensed, as well as metal cans. Again everything gets rinsed off so it doesn’t attract animals. Food leftovers that aren’t going to be eaten get composted.

We end up going to the dump about 4-5 times a year, we do have a truck load of trash, neatly condensed, clean and ready to be tossed into the appropriate container, metal into metal, plastic into plastic, glass into glass.

For those of you who live in more rural areas, how do you deal with your trash?

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Hawaii community begins development

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Hawaii, Development, Off-grid, Solar, batteries, minigrid

Fancy being off-grid here?

Hawaii has always been one of thebest places in America for off-grid living and now Work has begun on a hgh-end, 410-home, off-grid housing development located on Hawaii’s Gold Coast. The Hawaiian entrepreneur behind the project, Brian Anderson, believes it is set to be the first off-grid community development of such magnitude. Anderson told Bizjournals, “When considering how to power our community, I felt it was our responsibility to create something that would benefit future generations through the use of clean and safe renewable energy”.

The Ainamalu project is located in Waikoloa consisting of 350 homes and 60 condos. The buildings will have solar roofs and be hooked up to Blue Planet Energy’s Blue Ion Battery storage systems. These batteries are ferrous phosphate and so don’t contain any rare minerals. This means there is an abundant and conflict free resource available to produce them. Coming with a 15 year performance warranty, the batteries have a 100% discharge capacity. Blue Planet Energy was set up by another Hawaiian entrepreneur Henk Rogers.

Perfect for Solar


Driest in Hawaii

One of the driest places in the state, Waikoloa has less than 11 inches of rain per year, plus being located close to the equator it is perfect for solar energy. The solar and battery storage will create a micro-grid for the community. In addition, there will be a large energy storage system. Therefore, the community will have energy security. If residents use more energy that what their home produces, then they can obtain more from this supply. This would be for a fee below the average utility price. The technology for the micro-grid is called “Hee” after the Hawaiian octopus. This is due to the system’s ability to handle the distribution of energy throughout the many arms of the community.

The homes will range in size from 1,625 to 2,800 square feet on a 15,000 square foot lot. Residents of the community will have access to a private beach club, including pool, water slide and concessions on food. The layout of the community will also mean parts of the project can be used for vacation rentals. Prices for the homes are set to start at $750,000.

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Rising Electricity Prices cause Farmers to go Off-Grid

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Solar, Farmers, Off-grid, solar panels, bills, charges

Australian farmers face utility bill increases of 300% and US farmers face spiking charges

Australia’s farm exports have been increasing consistently for the past 6 years and agriculture contributed the most to the country’s economic growth during the last financial quarter. The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) said that a rise in the cash income of South Australia’s farms will be head and shoulders above the 10 year average for the region. But despite this, farmers are being faced with huge electricity bills which are becoming impossible to absorb.

The National Farmer’s Federation are calling for a transformation of the national electricity market. Currently farmers are facing tariff increases of up to 300%! This has been especially sobering for dairy farmers who are predicted to have a fall in cash income. This is due to falling prices for products such as milk.

Fiona Simson, president of the NFF, said, “We need affordable, secure and reliable and low emission electricity.” She spoke of how farmers are turning to off-grid solutions, dusting off diesel generators to avoid a “crippling overnight electricity bill”.

It is not just Australia’s farmers turning to off-grid energy.

US farmers are also beginning to show signs of a solar revolution, to avoid fees for electricity spiking. Even though the start-up costs for solar energy are still more than fossil fuel, with a combination of state incentives, a demand for energy and higher electricity prices in some states, the initial investment starts to pay off.

For the moment solar energy seems to be a supplement for activities such as water pumping and charging electric fences. Farmers in some states have been quicker on the uptake than others. For instance, a five year drought in California has meant farms having to use more electricity to pump ground water. When electricity intensive activities like this take place, it draws a high amount of energy from the local grid all in one go. This leads to a large “spiking” charge for the farmer.

Not only this, but some electricity companies like Pacific Gas and Electric charge more during day time summer hours. This is when there is more demand on the grid. Therefore, turning to solar during this time makes financial sense to avoid higher bills. Using batteries to store excess solar energy to avoid using grid electricity is also a good option for lowering bills. However, the main limitation for many farmers is the cost and storage size of the battery packs they would require. For a lot of farmers with solar power, its use stops when the sun goes down.

In some states like Washington, where electricity prices are low, solar panels are few and far between. However, as electricity prices continue to increase, this easily deploy-able green energy source is likely to become a popular solution.

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Upcycling: Keep the old & turn it into something new

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Off-grid, Upcycling, reusing, green,

Upcycling refashions the old into something new!

We live in a throw-away society. A culture based on how much “stuff” we have. The media gears our life towards replacing things because it’s fashionable rather than because we actually need to. It is also causing us to rush headlong into a lack of natural resources.

Recycling is of course an option to help combat the use of natural resources. But that requires more energy and water to break down a product into its base materials before remaking it into something else, normally of lower quality.

Upcycling however is completely green.

It’s not about breaking things down, but simply refashioning it into something new and of the same or perhaps even better quality. The conversion process means nothing gets sent to land fill, requires no extra energy (other than a little elbow grease on your part) and allows you to be creative. By reusing and upcycling products to perform different purposes to what they were intended, you are also saving money. Instead of going out and buying a brand new product, find something you are not using and use your creativity. Voila! Upcycling magic has occurred!

The complete opposite of consumer culture, more or less anything can be upcycled, from furniture to clothing to electronics – the only thing stopping you is your imagination. The same thing doesn’t have to be upcycled in the same way. Take a plastic bottle for instance; this could become a planter for the garden, a bird feeder, a lamp or anything else you can think of.

Old electronics, something that often gives us grief when trying to dispose of, can also be upcycled. Old smartphones can become alarm clocks, or if you’re tech savvy a smartwatch! An old school computer monitor can be cleared of internal wiring and become a fish tank! Or if you remove the screen itself, how about a cat bed? The fan in your old computer can be converted into a regular desk fan with a bit of know-how. Plus, if you’re a fashion fanatic how about some quirky keyboard letter cufflinks or earrings?

Upcycling also encompasses larger projects too.

How about wood pallets becoming a stylish piece of decking or front porch? Or how about going for the ultimate upcycle – a whole home!

Shipping containers are becoming a popular option to upcycle into a tiny home. Although you’re unlikely to come across these 8ft wide by 8ft tall containers for free (expect to pay around the $3000 mark for each one), they offer a good opportunity for an upcycle project! Rylan and Brook Naylor, took two of these containers and have converted them into a home. Although not completely off-grid they are hoping that in the coming years they will be.

Canadian Joseph Dupuis bought three shipping containers and did succeed in turning them into a 355 square foot off-grid home. Located 35 miles west of Ottawa Canada, Joseph’s off-grid container cabin is powered by a two kilowatt solar system and heated by a wood fire stove. The space is completely open plan and is designed to be dismantled, so it can be moved and erected in a new location. The whole project (excluding the solar system) cost Joseph $20,000. Having lived in his container cabin for two years, Joseph is looking to sell to give someone else a taste of upcycled off-grid living.

To have a guided tour by Joseph himself, visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=njjz-xTs67M

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Earthships resort planned for Indonesia

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Earthships overheat easily

Indonesia’s first of many Earthships resorts is under construction on the island of Gili Kenawa, in West Sumbawa. Like neighbouring islands in the West Nusa Tenggara region of Indonesia, it’s covered by green hills and a perfect location for the construction of Earthships – sustainable, off-grid homes built of recycled materials. A bit like pets – you have to maintain and nurture them – this one began construction late last year, marking the beginning of a planned Earthship resort on the so-called “Earthship Island”.

The pilot project is part of Eco Regions Indonesia, a sustainable development program covering more than 20,000 hectares of island forest, reefs and beaches in Lombok and Sumbawa. The ambitious plan aims to create Asia’s largest eco-region – addressing eco-tourism, environmental performance, the needs of the local community and sustainable development.

The partnership between Eco Regions and Earthship Biotecture in Gili Kenawa will jointly develop Southeast Asia’s first Earthship academy and Earthship resort. The project began in late 2016 and includes a minimum of 44 Earthships, to be built in three years.

The Earthship team comprises more than 50 people and includes a specialised construction team and a group of local workers and volunteers, who will train other local teams for future construction. Agus, a local worker from nearby Poto Tano and one of the first to be trained in Earthship construction, is proud to be involved.

“This is the first of such buildings in Indonesia,” Agus told the Jakarta Post. “There are old tires and plastic bottles everywhere, so it’s good to learn how to make strong buildings with this.”

Sustainable warrior Brooke said the heat on the beautiful island was a bit of a shock when she first arrived, but the team – which includes volunteers from across the world – was settling in to learn from eco-legend Mike Reynolds, who leads the project.

Mike, a 72-year-old architect who has been named the ‘father of the global Earthship movement’, has been living in and building these passive, off-the-grid homes for almost 40 years, adapting their design to use in various weather conditions and locations.

“I think real sustainability involves six aspects of humanity,” Mike told The Jakarta Post.

“First, humans need comfortable shelter that doesn’t use fuel. We all need electricity and water, and all societies need to do something with sewage and the garbage they produce. Last but not least, everybody needs food.”

He said that in order to live sustainably, all of humanity needs to address these six aspects of living.

“We’re trying to make a building that addresses all of these six things, all the time, all over the world. That’s what this building will be,” Mike said.

Building an Earthship

The Earthship is built using tires stuffed with compressed soil, tin, mud, plastic, and bottles for insulation and decoration. Energy is captured from the sun and wind, and rain is gathered for water. Grey water is treated to water gardens around the Earthship.

The building under construction is less than 20 degree Celsius inside, while the outdoor temperature is unbearable. The insulation system of recycled bottles circulates and cools the air as it enters and moves within the building, creating a natural airflow without the use of conventional air-conditioning or fans.

Mike said the off-grid systems are sustainable and easy to adapt to.

“I have been living in an Earthship for more than 40 years,” he said. “My office is an Earthship, my house is an Earthship. When I am hungry, I just go into the Earthships, pick bananas, grapes and I eat. I don’t have utility bills; when it rains, I am happy because I have water. But when it’s not raining I am happy too because I have the sun and sun makes electricity. I know that when I use the toilet, I am making soil for the plants. Every part of your daily life routine is contributing to your daily life routine and the Earth.”

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How to Unplug from the Digital World

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Erase yourself from the Search Engines

There is plenty of information out there about how to physically move off the grid, but what about going off the grid in the digital world? For many off-gridders, a social media or digital presence is still necessary – to remain plugged into the world around us, at least socially. But as the ease with which the government – and landlords, potential employers, even strangers – can track our movements online increases, so too seems to be the interest in disappearing from the digital world and becoming truly invisible. But how do you vanish from the internet?

Bradley Shear, a lawyer who specialises in social media and privacy, warned that it wouldn’t be easy. He said if you really want to step away from the internet and leave no digital trace, it would mean giving up using all electronic devices.

“[To go the full off-grid route] it’s cash, barters,” Bradley said. “Do not use any electronic device that can lead back to your whereabouts.”

Social media backlog

Bradley suggests deleting your social media accounts, or at least cleaning them up. Social media accounts, more or less, ensure you actively participate in letting the internet learn more about you; Facebook, in particular, is very good at tracking what you do across the rest of the web – even when you aren’t actively using it. The site stores your search information to suggest particular webpages, news of interest and advertisements.

“You have to think about the digital accounts you currently have,” Bradley said. “You have a Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, old Myspace? Anything that has your name on it. You want to either delete content from them or delete the accounts altogether.”

Although when you delete your accounts many of the companies will still keep the data you previously gave them, at least it won’t be publicly shared.

Bradley pointed out that Gmail in particular has to go – and you can’t use Google or Yahoo, because these programs all track your access location.

“Every time you access [Gmail], they have your IP address,” he said.

If you want to make sure your activity isn’t tracked across the web, Bradley said to use a virtual private network, or VPN, every time you access the internet, unless you only login from public machines (such as those at a public library or internet café). To search, Bradley suggests using sites such as DuckDuckGo instead of the traditional engines that track you.

If all that sounds too painful to deal with, at the very least consider deleting unnecessary content from your social media accounts. Twitter and Facebook let you download an archive of your data on the platform, in case you’re worried about losing any of those utterly amazing early tweets. And beyond the in-account settings for each service, third-party tools such as TweetDelete allow you to erase years of content automatically. But even that, Bradley said, doesn’t provide perfect results – the government probably already has your tweets on file.

“Using a service that deletes old tweets is helpful,” he said. “However, the Library of Congress is cataloguing every single tweet ever.”

JustDelete.Me provides a good starting point for people who want straightforward links to the deletion pages of a ton of accounts, along with a bit of guidance on how easy or hard it is to delete each one.

Misinformation

For those who can’t stand to go completely off the grid – which is probably most of us – Bradley said one of the most valuable things to do is litter the internet with misinformation about yourself.

“Never have a real birthday,” he said. “Always use a throwaway birthday when signing up for social media accounts or pretty much any other service online. Use a throwaway email. If a site or an app is asking for a bunch of information that you think it doesn’t need from you to provide you with whatever service it is promising, don’t do it. If that personal information is required to use that service, then make up some stuff. You want to provide as many alternative facts as possible.”

Of course, most of us will have already provided a lot of the information to a bunch of sites – so try to change it. On many sites, you can change your birthday, your likes and dislikes, past employment experiences, place of residence and other personal details, although some have a limit on how many times you can alter information (like Facebook).

Bradley said he knows that he’s essentially advising people to ignore the terms of service for these sites, and he’s okay with that.

“Feel free to protect your privacy and violate their terms of service,” he said.

Data leaks

Anyone who’s ever self-Googled knows that there are a ton of “people search” sites out there that promise to host valuable information about individuals. Usually, this information – phone numbers, social media profiles, addresses, anything else available from public records or through data collection on the internet – is sold for a fee (but not always). These companies are known as data brokers, businesses that collect information to sell it to other businesses. Bradley warned that trying to fully disappear from their databases is like “whack-a-mole.”

“Look at the first five to 10 pages of your Google results and see who has your name,” Bradley said. Your information will probably be on sites such as Whitepages, Spokeo and Intelius, for example, and each of these sites should have a way to opt out – but Bradley warned that sometimes the opt-out process can be a scam. If the site requires users to verify their identity before opting out by giving more information or providing a government ID, get out of there.

The second part of keeping your information out of the hands of data brokers involves plugging any digital leaks. If you’ve ever signed up for an account by linking it to a Facebook, Google or Twitter account, you have a leak, and should undo it if possible.

The other thing to think about is your phone – and what permissions you have given your apps.
“Most apps ask for way too much information,” Bradley said. “If you want to keep your phone, go ahead and delete every single app you don’t actually need.”

Of course, even doing all of these things won’t completely disappear most of us from the internet – particularly those who are older or have been using it for all our lives so have an extensive digital trail. So, the question becomes: Can you really disappear from the internet?

Bradley said it doesn’t matter if it’s futile or not – it’s important to try as much as you can, and do it properly, as if it’s going to work.

“You might not get perfect results, but it’s always worth the effort to try.”

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Emergency Preparedness in the Big City

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Emergency Preparedness in the Big City It always pays to be prepared for an emergency situation, but sometimes being prepared for an emergency in the city can be different than being prepared for an emergency in more rural areas. Terrain is a huge factor with big cities, let alone the fact that you are in … Continue reading Emergency Preparedness in the Big City

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UNESCO Credits SOIL Course

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Off-Grid, Course, Permaculture, Eco-friendly, ecovillage, Earthaven

The Permaculture & Ecovillage Immersion experience has been recently accredited by UNESCO

Last month I outlined the Permaculture course available at the School of Integrated Living (SOIL) in the ecovillage Earthaven (see here).

Recently, this program has been certified by Gaia Education, a provider of sustainability education across the world. The Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) credential will be provided through the Permaculture Immersion program running between Jun 10 and August 11 2017 at Earthaven ecovillage in North Carolina. The program provides students with both the knowledge and practical skills needed to design a society which reaches sustainable development principles supported by the UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development.

The program has four main dimensions which are covered. The social element involves working towards a common vision, improving communication skills and the ability to deal with conflict and diversity within a society. The economic element includes assessing the impact of the global economy on local projects and coming up with ethical economic opportunities within projects. The ecological aspect is learning about permaculture principles, as well as designing water systems for projects and learning how to apply green building principles. Finally, the worldview aspect is about maintaining a healthy lifestyle whilst incorporating regular spiritual practice.

SOIL co-founder, Lee Walker Warren, said, “The program helps passionate people understand their impact on society and forge real connections with themselves and others. People who are deeply engaged in their local and global communities make the biggest impact, both on other individuals and the planet.”

Over 4,900 students have taken part in the Ecovillage Design Education program across the world, supported by Gaia. There are various locations where these programs take place including Estonia, Italy, Canada, Chile, South Korea, Thailand, India, Scotland, Switzerland, Japan and the Netherlands. However, SOIL is only one of two organisations in the US which offer the UNESCO recognised EDE course.

On completion of the course at Earthaven, both an EDE certificate and a Permaculture Design certificate will be awarded.

There is currently a $100 discount when booking through the SOIL website for the Permaculture Immersion program by using the promotional code: SOILPEI100.

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Reunion in Rhode Island

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Drivin’ on up!

Eunice and I went on our very first weekend road trip last week! We went up to visit my Godfather, David who I reconnected with via the power of Facebook. I haven’t seen him since I was a very young child. He and his brother moved out to the west coast to pursue a career in bodybuilding. David has been back in the east coast for an artistic endeavor that’s nearing completion.

As a child, I would occasionally see him in magazines or on television and be so proud to be connected to him in some way even though he was never in my life the way Godfathers were supposed to be. He was a free-spirited young man living out his dream in L.A. and wasn’t very concerned at that point with fulfilling such a role for a little girl. It was a great disappointment growing up.

I’m no longer eight years old and since then, had suffered much deeper blows at the hands of family, thus making it easier to put past hurts behind me and reach out to him. After all, I was still so very intrigued and curious about this distant, mysterious figure that lingered in the background of my life.

I was nervous (something that rarely happens to me anymore), but when I finally saw him, he gave me a warm hug and that feeling quickly went away. David is definitely what someone would describe as “a character”… charismatic, light-hearted and somewhat eccentric. People around Providence call him “The Cowboy” because in a sea of conservatively dressed New Englanders, he stands out where ever he goes.

We took his Great Dane out for a long walk and had a good talk about his photography, my plans to venture west, and about the mechanics of life. He opened his home to me, made me awesome vegan dishes, baked for me, took me out to dinner, took me to the movies… and even made me the subject of an impromptu photo shoot! David spoiled me rotten the entire weekend. It was the first time in a very long time that I felt like the center of someone’s attention… almost like a kid! It was very well needed.

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David and his dog Cowboy

After my weekender, I couldn’t help but feel that some sort of karma had been released from this experience, as I felt so much “lighter and brighter”. It was a rewarding first trip in which a connection was reestablished. It makes me wonder what other connections will be made in the time to come…

Side note: David may seem familiar to many of you (especially those of you who came of age during the 80’s & 90’s). That’s because he’s one half of The Barbarian Brothers!

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America Through The Eyes Of Our Founding Fathers

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Almost 250 years ago, a band of brave men and women stood up to a tyrannical government and entered into open rebellion against it.

These rebels were motivated by a desire for liberty, not wanting their lives to be controlled by a distant government which had no idea of who they were or what their lives were like. Their rebellion became a war, which they ultimately won, creating the United States of America.

The battle cry which brought those Founding Fathers to open warfare was “taxation without representation.” They were offended by the need to pay taxes to a distant government which didn’t look after their needs.

But even worse than that, they were taxed without being allowed any representation in the parliament of that country. To them, taxation without representation was tyranny, and they rose up against it.

The opening move in that rebellion was one of controlled violence. A band of rebels, disguised as American Indians, boarded three American owned and built ships tied up to Griffin’s Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts. There, they bound the guards, and proceeded to throw the contents of 342 crates of tea, belonging to the British East Indian Company.

Why would they do such a thing? More directly, why would my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Silas Hubble (that’s five “greats”), a law-abiding subject of England, choose to partake in such an event? Because that tea carried a tax stamp. One more tax, levied by the English Crown, on colonists who were not represented in Parliament. That stamp became a symbol of the tyranny of England, calling for its destruction, along with the tea that bore it.

The Boston Tea Party became the spark which unified the colonies and started the war. Americans from all walks of life, gathered together to form an army, an army with one purpose – only that of throwing off the tyrannical rule of Britain.

Interestingly enough, the men who participated in this raid were very concerned about not breaking the law or causing damage to the owners of those ships. They did no violence to the members of the crews guarding those ships, merely binding them. The only damage they inflicted on those ships was a broken padlock, holding shut the hatch to the hold. They had to remove it to gain access to the tea, so they bought another padlock and left it for the captain of that ship.

This is an interesting contrast to the protests and demonstrations we see today, which are marked not only by their violence, but by their wonton destruction as well. Demonstrators, or more likely the paid agitators in their midst, make a point of breaking windows, overturning police cars and setting buildings on fire. Silas Hubble and his compatriots would be horrified.

Another huge difference between that demonstration and the demonstrations of today was their purpose. The Founding Fathers fought for freedom, which to them, meant freedom from government interference. But today’s protesters and revolutionaries are bound by the common thread of wanting a more oppressive government, one that cares for them from cradle to grave.

These demonstrators commonly call for a socialist form of government, not really understanding what that means. To them, socialism is the government giving them freebies.

But they fail to realize that for the government to do that, they must take that money and the individual freedom of their fellow Americans. Few of them have been on the other side of the fence, watching their paycheck diminish as the government took more and more away in the form of taxes.

Breaking from Tyranny

The American Revolution was against tyranny and those who joined in had a clear understanding of what that tyranny looked like. An overbearing government, far removed from their daily lives, was stealing from them in the form of taxes, while not giving them anything in return. That was tyranny.

So they went to war, an upstart collection of colonies against the mightiest army and navy in the world. That, in and of itself was remarkable. To think that untrained farmers and craftsmen would stand up against the might of the British government was truly amazing.

But to see them win and cast off the yoke of tyranny was even more amazing. They accomplished what nobody else thought was possible and so founded the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.

Having just broken the bonds of tyranny, the Continental Congress wanted to protect their fledgling nation from it ever occurring again. Through much hard work and thought, hammering out the details in endless debates, they crafted one of the greatest political documents of history – the United States Constitution.

The purpose of the Constitution was to define and establish the government of this new nation. It was written with certain goals in mind, amongst which was minimal central government, creating a balance of power between the central government and the states, and splitting the government’s power between three separate, but equal branches, so that power could not be consolidated in one branch or in the hands of one individual.

That is not to say that all of the Founding Fathers were comfortable with the restraints that the Constitution placed upon the government. Some wanted a strong central government, with limited state powers. But that group ultimately lost out to those who wanted a small federal government.

Another disagreement led to the writing of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. Some felt that the Constitution, as drafted, guaranteed those rights. But others did not feel so, as they were not specifically enumerated.

Ultimately, this latter group won out, and the Bill of Rights was created. Once again, its purpose was to limit government power, not to give the government power.

The Bill Of Rights

Remember that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects peoples’ right to keep and bear arms for purposes that include self-defense. The Second Amendment was written so you can defend yourself!

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Limited Government

Yet when we look at Washington today, we see a massive bureaucracy, which tries to meddle in every area of our lives. The Founding Fathers would be horrified by this, as it is the last thing they ever wanted. If anything, the Constitution and Bill of Rights give more power to the “several states” rather than to the central government. Yet the central government has stolen that power.

There is nothing which demonstrates more clearly than the Civil War how state power has been stolen.

While the main motivating factor in Southern cessation was slavery, the fact that the federal government didn’t allow them to secede, but rather went to war over it, was a massive theft of state powers by the federal government. In it, the several states lost their right to determine whether they would freely associate with the rest of the nation, or not.

Were the Founding Fathers to resurrect today, the first thing they would do is scale the federal government back. The Old Executive Office Building, originally built in 1871, was erected to be the home of the Departments of State, War (Army) and Navy. Yet today, it houses none of these functions, merely acting as an annex to the White House and holding additional staff members to the President.

To those Founding Fathers, several of the departments of the Executive Branch would be baffling, seen as unnecessary or as treasonous to the American people. They had fought for liberty and to find departments of the government which were meddling in the affairs of the citizens would bother them greatly. To them, the federal government we have today, would be even worse than the government they broke away from in the Revolutionary War.

Giving our government the benefit of the doubt (something I’m not normally wont to do), I believe that some of those departments would be accepted and understood by the Founding Fathers, after explanation and reflection. But not many.

Overall, they would see them as unnecessary meddling in the lives and businesses of the American people. In the cases of things that are necessary governmental services, such as education, they would ask why that wasn’t left at the state or even local level, as it was during their time.

But no governmental department would bother them more than the infernal IRS. Considering that they had just fought a war to get out from under the yoke of unreasonable taxation, the very idea that the American people would tolerate the existence of such an organization would be baffling. It would not surprise me if they were to rush it en masse, burning the building to the ground, as soon as they were made aware of its presence.

Citizen Legislators

The original Continental Congress, which published the Declaration of Independence wasn’t made up of professional politicians. Rather, it was made of farmers and businessmen, who left their homes to go to Boston and returned back home after the government’s business was concluded.

Alexander Hamilton, who presided over that Congress, was a ship’s captain, who returned to his ship and set sail, once the Congress was dismissed.

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In creating the United States of America, the Founding Fathers were breaking away from the aristocratic rule of European countries. There would be no hereditary royalty who ruled the people, but rather representatives who were elected from the communities they represented.

There was to be no permanent political class either. Representatives would be farmers, craftsmen and business owners who had earned the trust of their neighbors. They would serve in government part time, returning to their communities to run their farms and businesses.

Yet today we have a permanent political class, where most of our politicians at the federal level have spent their entire professional lives as politicians. Few of them have any other skills or know any other profession than that of governing, and because of that, they are largely disconnected from the people that they represent.

I can clearly imagine any one of the Founding Fathers facing off against Congress and using Donald Trump’s famous line, “You’re fired!” They would see the permanent political class as nothing more than the permanent ruling class in England, something that they tried to eradicate on these shores.

Balance of Power

As the Founding Fathers looked closer, they would quickly see how the balance of power between the three branches of government has been corrupted. Through the years, both the Executive and Judicial branch have stolen power from the Legislative branch, reducing the influence of Congress, while increasing their own.

The idea of governing by executive fiat was never a part of the original plan, although power for executive orders are written in the Constitution. But that was only intended to give the president power to execute laws that were already in existence; not create his own or eliminate those he didn’t like.

Likewise, the judicial branch was never given power to create their own laws by the decisions handed down from the bench. Their function was limited to determining whether the laws created by Congress had been broken or not.

Decisions such as Roe vs. Wade and the supposed right of homosexuals to marry in same sex marriages would horrify them; not just for the lack of morality behind those decisions, but because the Supreme Court was adding “rights” to the Constitution which didn’t exist.

Morality & Religion

Speaking of morality, we must remember that of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, 53 of them were Christians. Twenty-seven of them had attended seminary. This nation was founded as a Christian nation; the only one in the history of the world.

Yet, Barack Obama’s declaration that this is no longer a Christian nation is much closer to the truth than many of us would care to face. Christianity is on the decline, rapidly being replaced by Secular Humanism, Islam, the New Age movement and outright atheism.

Many of the original settlers on these shores came here for religious liberty. At that time, the phrase “religious liberty” referred to the expression of the Christian religion, not Islam, secular humanism or any of the other religions which are seeking to take over society. They were concerned about a government sponsored church forcing everyone to accept the “official” version of Christianity, as the Church of England imposed upon their society. Hence the First Amendment gives us the right to freedom of religion.

Nevertheless, the morals of today, or more correctly the lack of morals in our modern society, would be shocking to the Founding Fathers. They created this country to be a Christian country, expressing Christian values and living in accordance with the commandments of the Bible. What it has become today would be both shocking and repugnant to them.

Helping the Poor

The poor have always existed. The most ancient evidence that exists shows poor people populating the world. In fact, the vast majority of people have been poor, throughout the majority of history. Helping the poor was seen as a work for churches, religious societies and other “do-gooder organizations” (non-profit corporations).

Some of the poor were poor due to circumstances beyond their control. These are often referred to as the “widows and orphans” of history. The Christian Bible even makes reference to them, admonishing Christians to help them out.

But there were others who were poor because of drunkenness, laziness and a lack of a good work ethic. While their numbers were much lower than those of today, they existed.

In the culture of the 1700s and 1800s such people were looked down upon. Their problems were seen as something of their own creation. As such, they earned no pity and were not supported by the community. Any handouts were reserved for those considered to be “legitimately poor,” the aforementioned widows and orphans.

The idea that the government would be in the business of redistributing wealth to help the poor was something totally foreign to them. They would not understand it.

While they were all good men, who probably would have reached out a hand to help a person in need, they would never think that their taxes would be spent in such a way. They especially wouldn’t think that entitlements would become the single largest part of government spending.

Yet that’s what we have today. I can see these men admonishing citizens and especially the church, to take up this burden and remove it from the government. They would probably be some of the first to give, in order to make this possible.

Conclusions

In reality, the America of today is vastly different from the America of our Founding Fathers. We have come so far down the road of change, that it’s doubtful that they would recognize the country as being the one they had founded. While some of that can be written off to changes in society and technology, even without those changes, they would not recognize the country we have become.

More than anything, they would be concerned about the size of our federal government, both in the amount of wealth it takes from our economy and the amount of regulatory burden it puts on people’s lives. While some of that is obviously necessary, they could not accept it as it is.

Were the Founding Fathers alive today, we could expect a second American Revolution, and they’d be the ones to start it.

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This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia. 

References:

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/ben-carson-obama-says-we-are-not-judeo-christian-nation-he-doesn-t

http://www.dar.org/archives/signers-declaration-independence

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When the blades stopped turning

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World holds its breath for wind

While the world gives up on Trump and climate change, Australian politicians are dropping the ball on meeting the country’s energy needs.
Australia’s broken budget notwithstanding, the challenge facing the nation is affordability and reliability of its energy supply. Those on the Left disregard expense and reliability to focus on purely environmental concerns, while the Rights sprout facts and figures, thinking they know more about global warming than the CSIRO, and take the current energy crisis as proof that renewable energy isn’t sustainable.

The energy problem is especially urgent in South Australia, where a state-wide energy shortage in late 2016 interrupted supply to more than 60,000 homes on one of the hottest days of the year. To compound the problem, many of the state’s power stations are coming off line in the coming months, and, making matters worse, nearby in Victoria the Hazelwood power station – which supplies up the 25 percent of the state’s power supply and almost 5 percent of Australia’s entire energy supply – will shut down by the end of March 2017.

With so many stakeholders in the ­debate — state and federal governments, privately-owned power generation companies and infrastructure companies, and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) ­itself — when things go wrong, key players are able to pick and choose the facts that suit them to argue none of it is their fault.

The latest report released by AEMO regarding South Australia’s energy supply disaster points the finger at more than one guilty party. On the surface level, a software bungle by the state’s privately-owned power distribution firm caused thousands of homes to be kicked off the grid unnecessarily. But AEMO itself underestimated the level of demand on a 40 degree-Celsius day, and by the time it tried to respond, by looking at bringing gas online, it was too late. The wind stopped blowing, meaning the southern state, with the nation’s highest reliance on wind farms, was producing almost zero energy. The issue might be in technology – having batteries big enough to harness the wind on a windy day and store enough of it to keep the state running – or it might lie elsewhere.

AEMO should rethink its contingency plan – have a proper look at the manner in which energy is shuffled around between the states. But the larger issue remains the politicians, and the manner in which the discussion about renewables continues to be carried out in the public domain. There is a long-overdue need for an honest and non-ideological discussion about the capacity of renewables to meet the community’s energy needs. Whether they can in a sunny country like Australia remains under debate, but with the world watching Trump, the Oz establishment doesn’t seem to be listening.

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Changing regulations could cause off-grid “avalanche”

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Why should African solar owners suffer brownouts?

Solar panel suppliers in South Africa are predicting an “avalanche” going semi-off-grid or off-grid in response to new regulations that increase the costs of operating solar panels while attached to the grid.

According to the new regulations, 78-year-old Andrew Louwrens has an illegal solar electricity installation in his garden – despite having used solar panels since 2012.

Andrew, a retired SA Rugby administrator, received a letter from the City of Cape Town late last year ordering him to replace his illegal small-sale generation system – at his own expense – because it did not comply with regulations introduced after it was installed. Things got worse when, on Christmas eve, the council threatened to cut off his electricity if he didn’t comply.

“I installed the system in good faith in 2012. I was doing my bit for society,” Andrew said. “I also didn’t want big electricity bills when I retired, [and I have been] happily exporting excess electricity into the grid.”

Michel Malengret, an associate professor at the University of Cape Town, which owns the company that installed Andrew’s system, said the inverter he installed for Andrew had been approved globally, and at the time of installation there had been no local regulations.

“Using solar energy was very expensive then and government’s impression was that it would never happen,” Michel said.

Power utility Eskom said it viewed “the embedded generation connections, made without the required approval and permission, as illegal” and would not consider “retrospective applications”.

Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for energy, Xanthea Limberg, said residents had to ensure installations complied with standards and to replace non-compliant inverters with acceptable ones. But Michel argued that customers’ hands were tied by the expense of such replacements.

“Council only adopted regulations two years ago, so now those like Andrew who installed solar beforehand must fork out another R7000 for a new inverter. They must then pay a fixed charge of R13 a day for the ‘privilege’ of exporting excess energy into the grid,” he said.

Andrew and Michel suggest people in the same situation go partially on and off the grid, and stock up on batteries to store electricity.

Michel said that although Eskom had made it “virtually impossible” for “solar guys to work with the grid” he predicted there would be “an avalanche” of people going off the grid as the price of batteries came down.

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Please don’t eat the bunnies

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I’m really concerned about how people, especially young people will fare if/when TSHTF, I am right now, as I type, having a conversation with a young lady (23 years old she told me) on a Facebook group about frugal living. There have been some photos posted of people butchering their meat animals, chickens, roosters, rabbits and the such, though as I went through the page, honestly I saw only a couple of photos of someone with the dead animal in the photo that they intended to butcher.

This particular young lady posted a plea to the group to not post photos of animals being slaughtered (her words) for meat as these animals are cute and in her mind shouldn’t be considered for food, or at the very least not discussed on the FRUGAL living group as this “upsets her”. She posted a couple of pictures of cute baby chicks and baby bunnies to drive home her point.

I carefully penned a reply explaining why it’s frugal to raise and butcher your own meat animals, and that I’d prefer to see an animal raised on a home setting or small farm setting and butchered in a humane manner rather than animals being raised in commercial settings, never seeing the light of day, never touching the earth, being fed soy based feed, growth hormones, antibiotics, to have never felt the loving hand of a human and the such.

I wrote in the most polite and empathetic manner possible, but the conversation quickly degraded to her asking me why I don’t raise cute puppies for meat. You can see the full conversation below, I blurred out the names for privacy purposes. For the record, she also told me she does eat meat, just not red meat or rabbits. I am not interested in bashing or making fun of this young lady, I am sincerely concerned about the lack of knowledge as to where our food comes from, and the future of our society, especially if things go south.

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Off grid goes to Hollywood

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Hurwitz books are lessons in evading Big Brother

Living off grid isn’t just popular – it’s going mainstream.

New York Times bestselling author Gregg Hurwitz is achieving worldwide sales with his Orphan X series, which follows a spy living off the grid – and he’s currently writing the screen play for a film adaptation featuring Bradley Cooper, star of comedy franchise The Hangover.

Gregg, who has had 17 books on the New York Times bestseller list, is promoting his new one – The Nowhere Man, the second featuring the character Evan Smoak.

The first book in the series, Orphan X, introduces Smoak as a killer who was taken from an orphanage as a child and trained under secret government orders. He breaks free from the programme and vanishes off the grid to use his skills to help those unable to protect themselves.

The only way Smoak can be reached is through a technologically-protected phone number, each victim asked to pass the number along to one person in trouble. Lying low in a home base hidden behind layers of false internet connections and using sophisticated technology to insulate outside access, he creates his own rogue GSM site by using a yagi directional antenna, coaxial cable and omni stubble antenna mounted on a tripod – literally taking his devices off the grid by dodging all authentication between the base station and the cell tower. Smoak lives outside the boundaries of society with the freedom to travel at a moment’s notice.

In The Nowhere Man – Buy it on Amazon, released on February 1, Smoak goes from being the one who helps people, to needing help himself.

This is only the second time Gregg has stuck with a character for more than one book, and he said Smoak would be sticking around for a lot longer yet – he has signed with his publisher for at least five books about Smoak.

Gregg said when writing he always thought about the character’s point of view, and to get into the characters’ worlds he put himself in similar situations. This has seen him blow up cars and shoot weapons with navy seals.

“I spend more waking hours with my fictional characters then my wife and my kids,” he said.
“I’ve gone under cover in a mind-control cult. I will do whatever it is to be able to write about it effectively. If I don’t do it, I can’t write about it in a way that’s up close and personal.”

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Watching TV off grid

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pff grid TV

One question I frequently hear is how do I get TV or movies while living off grid. I will tell you that I have been living on a mountain side, in the high desert of far west Texas (yes, Texas has mountains), I am in a very rural place far away from any city centers. I cannot put up an antenna, even a high gain one to get over the air TV stations, we only have one radio station that comes over the air as well. So how do I get my entertainment?

Well, first of all, I refuse to pay to watch TV, so no satellite, cable or anything like that. I do have (somewhat) high speed internet, fortunately it’s an unlimited kind of service with no data caps, so as long as our internet is up and running, I can watch streaming videos as long as I wish to. For those of you who have data caps because of satellite internet or using your cell phone service for internet, I have some suggestions below. Second, I don’t have the power to waste on a regular TV, even one of those low energy LED or LCD TVs, so I use my laptop or even better, my tablet, it doesn’t use very much of my precious power.

I have several online sources for watching TV shows and movies, I’ll name a few here. My go to streaming service is Amazon Prime, I get loads of free (included with Prime) TV shows and movies, lots more than I could even begin to watch, they are also beginning to add their own produced original TV shows and movies, some I like, some I wouldn’t give you a nickle for, but that is just my taste, yours may vary.

One I just watched recently is Mr Church, a superb show starring Eddie Murphy in a serious role, it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while, I recommend a box of tissues to go with it, you’ll need it 🙂

At $99 a year for Prime, it’s a chunk of money up front, but it includes free 2 day shipping, since I buy many things through Amazon, it’s worth it to me, the included streaming videos (and music) are a big bonus to me, not to mention the myriad of other goodies included. Recently they have added a monthly rate if you don’t want to or can’t cough of the yearly fee, it’s $10.99 a month. You can try it free for 30 days here Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.

A few other places to stream TV shows and movies, Hulu and Netflix. I have used Netflix before and was happy enough with them, but ran out of shows I liked so I dropped the service. Hulu, I’m less excited about, though I have many friends who love it. The main reason I dislike Hulu is their commercials they insert in the shows, even if you pay for the premium service, there are commercials, sorry but that’s just annoying, so no Hulu for me.

Of course, one of the biggest streaming video sites is YouTube. There is even a premium service through YouTube where you can watch movies and TV shows, though I have never really looked into that, it’s there. If you do searches, you can find where people have uploaded full TV shows and movies, it’s not legal and eventually they get caught and their channel vanishes, but for a while the show is there to watch, I’ll leave it up to you whether or not you wish to watch shows like that, I’m not suggesting you do it or not, I’m just saying it’s there.

Now for those of you who have data caps and can only download so much per month, most satellite companies give you a period of time during the overnight hours to download all you want without it counting against your data bandwidth allowance, I don’t know if cell phone plans have that, but I know that satellite companies do.

With Amazon, you can download shows and movies on a portable device such as a tablet or phone (apparently not on a computer or laptop) to watch later, I have never done that, so I’m not sure exactly how it works, I just know it’s available. You can download YouTube videos easily even though it’s no setup for that, there are many YouTube video downloaders out there, just search for them. Download the shows during the overnight hours while your satellite company isn’t keeping count of your bandwidth, then you can watch these shows at your leisure.

If you are more adventurous, you can find just about any TV show or movie streaming online, I would classify these sites as very risky, and you are more likely to get a virus on your computer by going to theses kind of sites. The legality of these sites is often questionable, chances are you wouldn’t get into trouble unless YOU are uploading to them, personally I wouldn’t risk using a site like that, at least not without having some heavy duty protection, such as addons to your browser that will aggressively block java, javascript and popups (and probably a slew of other things I haven’t even thought of).

Have I missed anything that you know about? If so, please let me know in the comments below.

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Regenerating the Eco-village

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Regen Villages, Off-grid, Sustainable, Eco-village, eco-friendly

Regen Villagers don’t need green thumb to live in greenhouse.

Self-sustaining communities that can talk to each other; sounds like something from the future doesn’t it? But Regen Villages is making this a reality – right now. The first Regen eco-village has begun building works in Almere, 25 minutes from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The 15,500m² project will house 100 families and aims to be completed by 2018.

But what is a Regen Village?

Founded by James Ehrlich, a senior technologist at Stanford University, in 2015, Regen Villages has a holistic approach. A regenerative system combining new technology and renewable energy powered homes, with organic food production right on the doorstep.

The houses vary in size and are built inside a greenhouse “envelope”, with some even having terraces. Each home has a built in water collection system, solar panels and are passively heated. The community has a seasonal garden, biogas facility and aquaponics amongst other things.

The base of the villages is that the output of one system is the input to another. Waste from the homes is sorted into different categories. Bio-waste is used in the Biogas facility, whilst compost is used as food for livestock and small flies. The flies are fed to fish and the waste from both them and the livestock fertilises the seasonal gardens. The plants in the aquaponics facility and seasonal gardens produce fruit and vegetables for food, whilst the livestock and fish provide a source of protein. Rainwater is collected and stored at the houses and water produced at the biogas facility is also stored. Grey water is separated and used to irrigate the seasonal garden, whereas clean water is put into the aquaponics. Solar cells provide the energy for homes and also to the “smart grid” which can be used for charging electric cars.

Regen Villages, who are partnered with Danish architects EFFEKT, have been termed the “Tesla of ecovillages” paving the way for new innovative developments. Plans include villages being linked up to the cloud and being able to communicate with each other through the internet. In this way communities are self-reliant and off-grid but can still learn from each other.

What about the future?

At a conference held at Sliperiet, Umeå University, Sweden James Ehrlich spoke of the future for Regen Villages. After the completion of the Almere pilot, EU funding of a proposed 300 million euros (approximately $319 million) will enable projects in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany to go ahead. These are aimed to be carried out during 2018-2022. Sights are then set on developments across Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, India, China and parts of the US, with government investments. As Ehrlich outlined, by targeting a challenging cold environment first, Regen Villages can be adapted to suit different climatic needs.

Off-grid sustainable greenhouse communities are not at all futuristic and Ehrlich is keen to make them a reality.

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Liberals Prep for Trump Presidency – even have own Gun Club

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Prepping, Survival, Trump, Prepared, Off-grid, Self-sustaining

Could a “Trumpocalypse” on the horizon? Preppers are taking no chances!

Time was, Preppers tended to be right-wingers concerned about the coming social collapse, but since President Trump was elected, it’s left wing liberals who have begun hoarding food and seeking out futureproof shelters.

Prepping or survivalism already has tens of thousands of individual followers or groups actively preparing for emergencies. This movement even warranted a reality series titled “Doomsday Preppers” which aired on National Geographic Channel in 2012.

With a Trump administration now on the horizon, previous non-preppers have begun looking at their earthquake and backpacking gear in a new way – the beginnings of a survival kit. This was the case for San Francisco based Liberal Jim Ray. He told Buzzfeed, “The world in general feels more tumultuous than it did, in a lot of ways. For liberally minded people, the election made that a reality in a way that it wasn’t before.”

Other Liberals are moving beyond simply stocking up their backpacking kit, adding foreign visas and unregistered vehicles to their prepping checklist, according to the Buzzfeed article.

Although left wingers are generally against stocking up on ammunition and guns, The Liberal Gun Club has seen an increase in paying members over the past few months. This group provides a voice for gun-owning liberals, breaking the stereotype of only right wing enthusiasts owning guns and ammunition. Not only this, but gun transactions reached a record high on November 25th shortly after the election result, according to The Trace. Although this could be due to stockists lowering prices to increase their sales.

Liberal Prepper Facebook groups have also begun growing in popularity and number. One group has nearly 1,000 members on the social media site.

On the other hand, some Conservative preppers have relaxed their prepping since the election. But other right wingers are cautioning against this, regardless of political opinion or viewpoint, a new president isn’t going to prevent a natural disaster or grid power outage. Therefore, prepping is still an important and vital part of many peoples’ lives. Only now, preppers can no longer be described as predominantly right wing, President Trump has seen to that.

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Be Your Best During the Worst Helping Others!

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Be Your Best During the Worst  Helping Others Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio in player below! Will you be a “helper” when the worst happens? In response to a question about how to handle troubling images in the news, children’s television icon, Fred Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see … Continue reading Be Your Best During the Worst Helping Others!

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Inside a Dutch Houseboat

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Old People's Homes - at sky high prices

Old People’s Homes – at sky high prices

The Netherlands has long been known for its magical and magnificent houseboats across its vast network of canals, but there is a serious problem for young Dutch people who want to live aboard. With over 10,000 houseboats in Holland, the country is the houseboat capital of Europe. In Dutch capital, The Hague, boats have door steps, gardens, and nameplates.
A typical couple, Kris and Marjon, are in their late 80s. They live on the canal with their dog Gritje, and bought the boat in 1942. The two-bed boat with kitchen and bathroom is worth about £250,000 ($300,000) on the market.
As a professional timberman, Kris modified the boat and built rooms, bathroom, and a living area .
It worries them that thousands of younger people are unable to live a similar life until their generation dies out. “Buying a new boat is not possible anymore, they can only live on an existing boat. Young people in their 20’s are starting their careers and cannot afford a house boat. Partly reason being that you do not get mortgage on the boat houses, unlike land houses.”

Kris and Marjon's boat

Kris and Marjon’s boat

According to the rules, one has to pay insurance in metres, also known as ‘water tax’, which goes up to about 800 euros per year. Much less than the taxes paid on land. Young people who manage to get a boat, tend to design their interior in a very modern way. Kris and Marjon have decorated their house with vintage possessions including an old telephone and a record player that still works perfectly well.
One aspect of living in a houseboat is to be more aware of the nature that surrounds you. Kris and Marjon reflected upon how knowledge has grown about eco-living and being environmentally friendly. They recall people pumping their sewage in the canal and throwing garbage in the water. But now times have changed. “Now, according to the municipality regulations, we have to pump everything in the sewage system. We are not allowed to put anything in the water” said Kris.

Caroline, a young woman in her late thirties is one of the exceptional young people who have managed to join the boaters.
She lives with her girlfriend is a well-furnished and spacious houseboat. She was spotted cutting wood near her shed. To her, the main reason why she chose to live in a boat since 2000, is to be as close as possible to nature. “Although it is in midst of a city, you are still in nature,” she explained.
When asked if it was eco-friendlier to live in this environment, she chuckled with the axe in her hand. “I think the way I am living is not so eco-friendly. I could do better. It is not easy because in a house boat, everything is easy to rebuild and restyle because it’s all wood.

Boats are fully integrated in  to the city

Boats are fully integrated in to the city

“Even though I have gas, I still like to warm my house with wood and cook with wood. You can’t compare the smell and feeling with anything. It gives you an aesthetic feel because when you use gas, you help save trees but when you cut trees and burn wood you feel much closer to the nature.”

She further explained her choice of cutting and using fresh wood surrounding her. “Human senses are not limited to smell. The crackling sounds of the wood burning and the vision of fire burning gives you a sense of relaxation and makes you feel complete – having a fire from the wood is meditation in itself.”
To her, the concept of using gas is boring. “They now have so much discussion over the smoke emitted from burning wood but my father and his forefathers cooked using wood, so I don’t see anything wrong with it”, said Caroline. Times have surely changed, so have views towards environmental responsibility in Holland. The houseboats are not only carrying on the tradition of nature loving beings, but also bare traditions passed on for generations. The contrast of old boats and young ones is visible on the canal because of different exterior and interior decorations. This is one trend that will continue to thrive in the future raising more questions on how eco-friendly and cheap can one live on a canal.
According to Caroline, “When you have adventure in your life and you have a free mind, and you want to connect with nature, houseboat is the perfect place to live for young people. But with the mortgage not being possible anymore, it will be more difficult for young people to live in a house boat.”

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Legalities of tiny homes

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legal

You want to live in a tiny home, you have done your research, you love what you see, but now you are finding out the bumps in the road about building and living in a tiny home. It seems that the reason most tiny homes are actually built on a trailer chassis, that gets around most of the “building codes” that are enforced in most towns, and even out of town in some municipalities.

But where are you going to park it? Most places will not allow you to park on a property for more than a set period of time, many areas will not allow you to park in someone’s backyard and LIVE in it, there are rules and regulations for both mobile and fixed tiny homes, it’s up to YOU to do your homework to find out what these rules (codes) are in the place where you want to plant your tiny home. I would say to get out of the city, as far as you can, get somewhere where there are very few building codes. I know that isn’t ideal for everyone, but if you are able to get far away from government intrusion, that seems to be the best way to go.

Watch this video to hear about some things you might not have considered before jumping in the tiny home movement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqoHpsz1Yss

web
analytics

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Off-Grid School Gets Top Marks

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Recycling, Eco-desks, Off-grid, school, South Africa

Waste for desks? Deal!

A cash-strapped performing arts school has traded a year’s worth of waste for 30 desks.

The off-grid school collected its community’s recycling, as well as its own, and bartered this for the recycled desks.

Set up in 2005, the grid wasn’t working for 65 pupil school Chistlehurst, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa so they devised a plan. Stick with their eco-friendly ethos and remain off the grid.  Unlike an on-grid school, there is no sprinkler system, no heating in the winter and strictly no technology in the classroom. So things are done a little differently, students carry buckets of water from the rain water tanks to the gardens and huddle by a bonfire to keep warm on cold mornings.

“Our kids have had to learn how to get along without certain ‘luxuries’, which is something they take a little time to adjust to, but end up loving the ‘quietness’ of it all,” said Jacyn Fanner, Headteacher.

When they moved into their current building, there were no roofs, doors or windows. Let alone functioning taps and toilets! But after a lot of hard work, the school reached their off-grid goal. Rain water tanks fill the toilet cisterns, solar lighting illuminates the classrooms and batteries, gas and a small generator provide extra energy.

The school is also home to a frog pond, vegetable garden and a recycling village with 12 bins for different materials. This allows the school to recycle a range of materials from mixed paper and cans to plastic and styrofoam. The majority of cleaning products and equipment are sourced from the local community and are as eco-friendly as possible.

Off-grid, School, Recycling, South Africa, Eco-desks, Water Tanks,

Drama Free! Water tanks & solar panels mean Chistlehurst doesn’t have to rely on the grid.

The school partnered up with the Wildlands Conservancy Trust 6 years ago, through their desire to recycle. The NGO, which operates in 6 provinces, provided the school with the recycling bins which are filled every week – even during the holidays!

Students have taken their eco-friendly lessons from school to home, encouraging their families to reduce re-use and recycle. So now recycling from the local community is brought to the school for collection. Each year the school get a rebate from Wildlands for the recycling they collect. However at the end of 2016 this rebate was traded for the eco-desks. The staff and students are very pleased with how they look in their eco-school setting and Headteacher Jacyn Fanner wants to see them fill all of the classrooms in time.

So what’s next?

“We have so many ideas and plans – which include a fully solar powered media centre – and we are so excited for what the future holds for Chistlehurst,” Jacyn Fanner said.

The desks are made from 100% previously unrecycled materials, are hard wearing and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Chistlehurst are so pleased with the outcome, they are encouraging other schools to get involved with green initiatives such as Sustainable Schools and Recycling for Life programs.

 

Images courtesy of Roger Fanner.

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What does President Trump mean for off-grid living?

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Less government but will he allow Independence?

Less government but will he allow Independence?

Trump’s politics resonate with those who want to live our American dream. He is selling a promise to ‘make America great again’. Conversely, many feel like they might pack up and move to another country.

 

One voter, Tim Kennedy, claims America will be a dying country if people don’t change their ways. He says off-grid living may be the secret to freedom and a sustainable way of life, that it is the way that we as humans are supposed to live.

 

This is just one man’s view, a staunchly patriotic view at that. It may not be for everyone, as it takes a lot to adapt to, and not everyone has an opportunity to do so. However, there is truth in that we are paying a higher cost in our own personal happiness and wellbeing by subscribing to the confines and regimented expectations of society.

 

Many of those who have been living off grid for some time, now preparing for life under Trump out of fear and trepidation, are surprised others see it as the ultimate act of patriotism and are preparing for it out of sheer anticipation.

 

Some simply believe that our society is, and has been in a downward spiral since the 2008 global financial crisis, and prefer to live off-grid to escape global threats to modern society such as terrorism, cyber security, and further economic turmoil.

 

In 2014, an estimated 1 million people live off grid in America, a figure that has steadily risen in the past few decades. Across the UK, there are already thousands of people who have embraced the off-grid movement. There is a certain appeal to this way of life, to be self sufficient and liberated from the chains of a capitalist consumer society, by embracing this low cost, eco-friendly way of life.

 

Generally speaking, much of Trump’s support comes from disenfranchised elements who feel nobody was speaking for them.

 

Does Trump’s America mean that people will embrace this way of living? Certain states ban homes smaller than a few hundred square feet, and some cities welcome these so-called ‘tiny homes’. Trump has spoken about the costliness of renewable solar and wind power; however there is evidence to show that renewable energy in the US is cheaper than it has ever been.

 

For off-gridders preparing for life under Trump, some don’t see his rule as so much of a threat. Rather, they believe that he may not be able to accomplish what he says that he is set out to do, and are simply fed up of politicians and politics in America. It may be this very reason why more people turn to off-grid living.

The post What does President Trump mean for off-grid living? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Learn to Love Ecovillage Life

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Off-Grid, Course, Permaculture, Eco-friendly, ecovillage, Earthaven

Permaculture is a sustainable way of living – not a trending hairstyle!

Want to test out living off-grid but don’t want to do it alone? If you have $6000 to spare you can with the School of Integrated Living (SOIL).

So if you want to try living off-grid in a community of over 80 people, consider the Permaculture and Ecovillage Immersion Experience. This two month residency running from June 10th to August 11th is less of a course and more of an eco-cultural learning experience.

Located in the aspiring ecovillage Earthaven near Asheville, North Carolina, you’ll gain new skills on a wide curriculum. From learning about ecological farming to efficient irrigation techniques and eco-spirituality, there is something for everyone. Most days will begin with a meditation session before getting stuck into the day. There will be unstructured time, but most weeks will cover approximately 50 hours of learning. A Permaculture Design Certification course is also included, which will take place in mid-June.

Earthaven was founded in 1994 and sits in 329 acres of land. A completely off-grid community powered with solar panels and two small hydropower stations. The buildings are made of environmentally friendly materials, usually lumber, with metal roofs for water catchment. Most are passively solar heated and propane burners help to keep them warm during colder months. The huts and residences have either individual or shared solar systems which supply their electricity. Batteries and generators are also charged by the micro hydropower stations for back up supplies. Although most of the residents get around by foot or bike, three solar powered golf carts can also be used.

Course participants will camp on site, with the majority of spots being for two person tents. A tarp covered kitchen with propane burners and a composting toilet are all available for use. Food is also included and most is sourced from the local environment and small farms in the village.

The cost of the course is $6,800 including tuition, food, camping, field trips and the permaculture design certificate. There is a $400 discount if booked before February 10th.

If you don’t want to spend two months at Earthaven but would still like to visit – you can! Workshops and tours are open to the public. Camping is also offered for $15 per adult per night, or $20 for two adults sharing a tent. The camping season runs from March 31st to November 5th.

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(eco)Village within a Village

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Solar hamlet - artists impression

Growing demand sees Welsh govt jumping on bandwagon

The Welsh Government is embracing low-impact housing with the unveiling of its first village within a village – the Pentre Solar “eco hamlet” within the traditional, stone-walled village of Glanrhyd in Pembrokeshire. The six timber homes have solar panels capable of producing 6000 kilowatt hour per year, low energy use and a A++ energy rating.

Following the successful construction of a prototype house built by start-up Western Solar in 2013, the Welsh Government gave the company £141,000 to help create its nearby production base for the homes, which will house tenants from Pembrokeshire council’s social housing waiting list. With low energy use and access to a shared electric car, Western Solar said residents could avoid up to £2,000 a year on energy costs and consumption.

The eco hamlet was built with insulation material made from recycled paper and local Douglas and Fir wood sourced from the Gwaun Valley. Local people were hired and trained to build the homes, which cost about £100,000 each to build – comparable to a conventional build, according to Western Solar.

About 40% of the fabric of the houses is made in the factory, significantly reducing the build time; it takes only a week to make each house, and less than that to erect it. The company plans to build 1,000 homes over the next 10 years, with the help of partnerships including housing providers and investors.

Welsh Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said she was “delighted” to officially open the innovative housing development.
“[It is] not only providing much-needed housing for local people, it is also addressing many other issues such as energy efficiency, fuel poverty, skills development and the use of Welsh timber,” Lesley said.

Low-impact development is recognised by the Welsh Planning system as playing a key role in the transition towards a low-carbon society. Since the ‘One Development Policy’ legislation was introduced in Wales in 2010, it has been possible to build new homes in the open countryside as long as there is a clear commitment for to sustainable living, natural building techniques, and land-based livelihood.

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Return of the Scottish Hut

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Hut, Scotland, Building Regulations, Bothies, Off Grid

Huts or bothies were part of Scotland’s culture since early C20th.

If you fancy buying an inexpensive off-grid getaway in Europe – try Scotland.

The government announced changes to their building regulations early this year. This will include huts of up to 30m² becoming exempt from regulations, specifically aimed at making it simple for people to achieve a life off the grid.

In a few months, you could be gazing out from a building like the one in the picture for less than $25,000 inclusive.

Scotland has a strong hutting culture dating back to the early 20th century; it was only 60 years ago that this began to dwindle. The largest remaining hut community in Carbeth, near Glasgow, managed to weather this decline. The community bought the land on which their 140 huts stand in 2013. But now resurgence is happening, thanks mainly to the campaign A Thousand Huts championed by the environment organisation Reforesting Scotland.

This organisation recognises the benefits of hut life, offering a retreat for rest, recreation, enjoying nature and making memories with family. Alongside use as a base for outdoor activities, huts contribute to sustainable development and encourage learning new skills. Reforesting Scotland have been lobbying for changes to the law for some time and are keen to encourage more people to adopt the hut lifestyle. Now changes to building regulations are being finalised this year, more people can benefit from having their own off-grid getaway.

Scottish planning (zoning) policy requires all developments to get planning permission for a new build from their local authority. This involves providing a description of plans on the chosen location. This part of the process will not change and will still have to take place.

However, single storey huts will no longer need a building warrant or have to comply with strict building regulations. This gives hut builders more freedom in how they build their huts and can significantly reduce building costs. There are still some rules which will have to be met.

Firstly, the build must fit the description of a hut as given in Scottish Planning Policy documents, which is as follows:

“A simple building used intermittently as recreational accommodation, having an internal floor area of no more than 30m²; constructed from low impact materials; generally not connected to mains water, electricity or sewage; and built in such a way that it is removable with little or no trace at the end of its life.”

By restricting size, the risk of structural instability of the hut is reduced but its energy efficiency is maximised.

Secondly, some health and safety regulations will have to be met, for example relating to fire risk and spread. A guidance document outlining these will be published by Reforesting Scotland later this year.

The Scottish Government has also allowed provision for a sleeping platform and amenities such as composting toilets within the hut. In terms of energy use and production, off-grid solutions such as solar panels and micro wind turbines are most desirable, however these are location dependent.

There are hutting cultures in other locations, such as the Scandinavian countries. However, these seem to be growing in size and elaborateness. The aim of this policy development in Scotland is to take people back to basics and off the grid.

 

 

More information can be found here:

www.thousandhuts.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/160215-Huts-Guidance-FINAL-screen-res.pdf

A Guide to the Planning System in Scotland can be found here:

www.gov.scot/resource/doc/281542/0084999.pdf

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Homeless and Roofless

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Jim Martin -good people

Jim Martin -good people

By Jim Martin – Homeless Shelter Director, Delaware

Every day in Southern Delaware, I work in the trenches and on the front lines of poverty, fear, homelessness, loneliness, isolation, addiction and mental illness.

People ask me about what I am seeing and experiencing out here on the front lines. In my opinion, there are the “roofless” and then there are the “homeless.” Being roofless means living rough. You are living outside with no cover. It also means most

times…..ROOT-less with little or no ties,

Being roofless mostly means living in active addiction and/or enduring an untreated mental illness. Living roofless is extremely exhausting, very fluid, dangerous, dark and unpredictable. It also costs about $10 a day to be roofless because of the needed supplies and provisions that you normally would NOT buy if you had a hard roof overhead. Many of the roofless are also smokers so you can add at least another six or more dollars to the $10 dollars a day cost of being roofless. Living roofless is also ruthless. It is brutal. If you are chronically roofless living outside, then you will die 25 years earlier than the average person who lives inside.

Now, what does homeless mean?

Homeless means you do have a hard roof overhead and there is much more accountability about your behaviors. You are living in an emergency shelter, an abandoned building or living on a couch… also known as “couch-surfing.” Being homeless could mean being doubled up or tripled up with family members.

Being homeless also could mean living in your vehicle. You can’t sign a lease or a deed in your own name.

Being homeless means you have an income of some sorts but it is not enough to pay rent or sign a deed/mortgage.

You purchase a car instead. You are a low wage earner and you are working on your recovery and your sobriety.

Being homeless also means living in transitional housing or group housing or shared living without a signed lease.

You are precariously housed living under the graces of another person or people. I estimate there are 100,000 Delawareans who are homeless and 30,000 Delawareans who are roofless.

There are 200,000 Delawareans with a mental illness. There are 100,000 Delawareans in active addiction. Of course, there are many Delawareans who struggle with both addiction and mental health conditions.

With the start of the New Year, we have many huge social problems in front of us to solve. Population health experts routinely state that 1 in 5 suffer with a mental illness. 1 in 10 with a severe addiction. There are a little less than 1 million Delawareans in total. Twenty percent have a mental illness and 10 percent have a severe addiction. As far as the roofless/homeless population, I am involved in a “point-in-time” study each year that helps to count the Delawareans who are unsheltered during one night in January.

But I believe this “point in time count” is much less than the actual number of roofless because the unsheltered are near invisible and difficult to engage or find late at night.

I also factor in the current housing wage of $21.70 an hour and the lack of affordable housing in the state. In other words, in order to afford a typical housing situation in Delaware, a person needs to earn at least $21.70 an hour. Many people are earning much less than $21.70 an hour.

Another fact is that there are 115,000 Delawareans on Medicaid, so this means that these folks are making under $12,000 a year. Monthly rentals are averaging $1,000 to $1,200 a month so there are thousands being priced out of the rental market.

There are thousands more who live in their vehicles and they don’t look “homeless.” They work very hard at blending into normal society. I also estimate that there are only 400,000 Delawareans who can actually afford to live in Delaware.

This leaves approximately 600,000 Delawareans struggling with their finances. As far as citizens who are involved with the criminal justice system: 7,000 Delawareans are incarcerated right now. Another 20,000 Delawareans are being supervised in the probation/parole system.

And of course, a large percentage of these folks coming from the DOC are in severe poverty when released and continue to be once they try and move forward in their difficult lives.

Jim Martin is the director of the A.C.E. Peer Resource Center in Seaford. He can be reached at Jimmymartin767@gmail.com.

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From a Caravan to a Community

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Moving into a caravan in the middle of Hill Holt Wood in 1995 gave Nigel Lowthrop his roots.
His purchase of the 22-acre woodlands in beautiful rural northern Britain near the evocative C16th village of Norton Disney led to the beginning of a sustainable social enterprise community which he and his wife Karen have been building for 20 years.

Gradually building and then moving into a kit house by the side of a lake, Nigel’s entirely self-sustainable area comprises 12 acres.
The house is fully equipped with wood and stove heating, purified rainwater tanks and solar panels.
The remaining Holt Hill area is now a successful social project, home to several protected specials and owned by the Hill Holt Wood Charity, which overs educational, social and health programs.

Nigel Lowthrop. Image: Jeremy Lovell.

Nigel Lowthrop. Image: Jeremy Lovell.

Nigel, a biologist who has worked in land management since 1970, said his desire to build a social enterprise community was born from a need to do better by the environment.
“I felt we as a country weren’t doing a very good job of managing the countryside,” Nigel told the Newark Advertiser.
“I believed you could manage it both sustainably and economically. The whole basis (of Hill Holt Wood) was to apply a [social, environmental and economic] legacy, to mutually benefit each other.” However, it wasn’t an easy road to success – Nigel fought a battle with government and planning representatives when building lakeside property. He recalls the first day the Forestry Commission’s regional director came; Nigel overhead him and his team wondering why they were there.
“I knew what they were picturing: this eco-warrior who was dirty and smelly and living in the woods.

They were getting ready to say ‘you’re a nice loony, but you are a loony nonetheless; this isn’t mainstream,’” he said. “But by the time they had walked around the land once, you could see them thinking ‘this isn’t what we expected’”.

Nigel, who recently put his property on the market for £650,000 due to health reasons, among others, believes more work needs to be done to educate the wider community, and government, on the benefits of sustainable living.
“I don’t think most planners understand sustainable,” he told the Newark Advertiser.
“One of the things that would take years to overcome after we first moved here was the planning. They seemed to be against things that were outside towns and villages.
“The government has changed the planning rules so that there should be a presumption of positive response to sustainable development — but there is no definition of sustainable.”

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The 2017 Prepper Community

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The 2017 Prepper Community James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio in player below! As we head into another year it’s my duty to batter you with ideas about engaging your community. I truly believe that this is the way to liberation. I think if we can build sustainable and powerful communities across the nation we … Continue reading The 2017 Prepper Community

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Oregon Community Cut off by Snow

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Snow crushing the roofs

Weight of Snow crushing the roofs

An off-grid village of 150 souls in Oregon is running out of food due to the severe snowstorms in the area.  And there is a severe threat of the weight of snow collapsing roofs.

County commissioners declared a local state of emergency around Prineville near Bend,OR yesterday after being pummeled with feet of snow for weeks. But now, county resources are drained and they need state help, said county emergency preparedness coordinator Vicky Ryan.

Ryan said Juniper Acres, an isolated, off-the-grid community south of Prineville, is county officials’ main concern. The community of about 150 has been cut off from emergency resources due to snow-blocked roads, which the county does not maintain, she said.

Crook County officials have asked the state for money, equipment and manpower to help plow rural roads that the Central Oregon county does not maintain in the area 30 miles north-east of Bend.

Some roads have reportedly been covered in snow drifts up to 8 feet deep. Crook County Judge Seth Crawford tells The Bulletin newspaper they’re impassible and people who live in neighborhoods including Juniper Acres and Prineville Lake Acres can’t leave to get supplies. Some may be running low on food and heat.

Maya Bamer lives in Juniper Acres subdivision, southwest of Prineville. She says snowmobiles are being used to deliver donated goods to snowed-in families.

a large portion of the shut Woodgrain Millwork plant in Prineville collapsed last Sunday morning, four days after another part of the roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snow. And a Tumalo youth ranch’s arena also collapsed from wet, heavy snow — but fortunately, no injuries occurred in either case.

“My husband and I were just outside playing in the snow with our kids and heard what sounded like an earthquake,” Jennie Quinn of Prineville told NewsChannel 21. “The rest of the Woodgrain Mill collapsed!”

This time, photos showed the walls also had fallen, not just the roof, leaving large holes exposed to the elemets.

Another area resident said Sunday’s collapse on the northeast corner of the complex of connected buildings blew sawdust and small debris across Peters Road, prompting a closure in case more of the structure fell at the 83-acre site, which the Idaho firm has up for sale.

The heavy snow also caused a collapse of the indoor arena at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch on Innes Market Road in Tumalo.

“It’s a total loss,” CEO/Founder Troy Meeder said of the 9:30 a.m. collapse. “We have close to $500,000 of equipment now buried under snow, wood and twisted metal.”

But it could have been worse: Just “a few minutes before,” Meeder said, as one of her team was parking a tractor inside after use. Another team member and his 2-year-old son “were just gearing up to get out one of the tractors to move snow.”

“The building collapsed while neither was inside — thank you, Jesus!” she wrote.

Early last Wednesday, another portion of the Woodgrain Millwork roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snow, causing no injuries but triggering a natural gas leak, officials said.

A passer-by called dispatchers around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday to report a smell of natural gas on Peters Road, said Crook County Fire and Rescue Chief Matt Smith.

Responding fire crews found a portion of the roof had collapsed at the facility, where another section of roof collapsed in November 2014. That collapse was a major factor in the Idaho company’s decision to lay off remaining workers and close the facility about a year ago. The property is now up for sale.

House Republican Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, says he’s been assured by the governor’s office and state agencies that residents who may be in danger will get assistance.

 If an emergency is declared, it’s likely that Oregon Department of Transportation personnel and equipment would be sent to Crook County, not the National Guard, said Office of Emergency Management spokesman Cory Grogan.

The Central Oregon area has been impacted by significant snowfall since the beginning of December. Records from the National Weather Service show Central Oregon received its first snow December 6. Substantial amounts of snow have fallen throughout the region. The National Weather Service has provided accumulations for Bend (approximately 50”) and Sunriver (approximately 52”). Normally we see periods of warmer weather to melt the snow between storms. The cold weather has prevented snow melt, which has caused the snow to accumulate.

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Preppers can relax now that Trump is in

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Trump

I typically steer clear of politics and religion as topics for me personally to discuss here, not that I’m anti religious or not political, quite the contrary, I’m a conservative Christian with slight libertarian leanings, the reasons I don’t typically discuss it here is, to those who believe as I do, well I’d be preaching to the choir, and those who don’t believe as I do, I’m not likely to exert much influence on them, and I’m not interested in arguing with anyone 🙂

That being said, let’s talk politics 😉
Honestly, I’m not going to talk about whether or not President Elect Trump should or should not be… I’m going to discuss what I’m seeing on the Internet about prepping. The question has been asked if people should stop prepping for the worst now that Trump is about to step into office. The short answer is NO! This is just plain common sense, it doesn’t matter who is in the oval office, it’s important to be prepared for as many potential problems as possible, from major social upheavals, think people rioting in your town, wouldn’t it be better if you had enough supplies to shelter in place at home for a few days to a few weeks rather than having to try to get to the grocery store through crazy people? It doesn’t matter what political affiliation the rioters are, doesn’t matter what their skin color is, if they are in uniform or not. You don’t want to leave your home and family unguarded and try to drive through a riot because you ran out of food.

There are other reasons to continue to prep for emergencies, from major weather related catastrophic events, to just getting snowed in for a few days. There are financial emergencies, from having your hours cut, to losing your job, perhaps an unexpected bill hits at an inopportune time.

These are just a few reasons to continue prepping for emergencies, there are many more, too many to list. Don’t let the political affiliation of who is in office, liberal or conservative, trick you into becoming complacent, don’t be tricked into thinking the government will take care of us in a major catastrophe, I don’t care if those in charge have a D or R next to their name, they will be more concerned with themselves first, then maintaining their power, we the citizens will be pretty far down their list, with the possible exception of controlling the masses. We, that means you and I, need to be more responsible for taking care of ourselves in as many situations as possible. Are you ready?

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Best Beats Unplugged

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Music, Festival, Off Grid

It is not often that large events can call themselves self sustaining. But two upcoming music festivals on two entirely different continents are bucking the trend and doing just that – going off grid.

Introducing Off The Grid Melbourne Festival in OZ and Camphill Village Music Festival in South Africa. Two very different but self-sustaining events. Off The Grid Melbourne is taking place on 21/12/16 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts in Melbourne and Camphill Village Music Festival on 25/02/17 at Camphill Village near Cape Town. This will be the third music festival for both events, which have been getting bigger and better each year.

The Melbourne festival will be powered entirely through solar energy. Panels will be connected to a battery bank, which is rigged up to the sound system. This ten hour event will have music, food and plenty of dancing, with not a single piece of waste going to landfill. The company behind this festival, Finding Infinity, aim to make Melbourne a completely sustainable city – one renewable event at a time. Artists playing at this event include home-grown Australian Andras Fox and the eclectic, high energy No Zu.

The Camphill Village Music festival is a slightly different affair, but no less energetic. This festival helps to raise funds for Camphill Village, a community home to 90 intellectually disabled adults who aim to live self-sustaining lives. The farm includes a dairy, bakery and cosmetics shop, whose products are sold in the Cape Town area. Partnering up with Rays of Hope helped Camphill take the first steps towards living with no reliance on the grid. The dairy is now entirely solar powered, taking the community one step further to complete self-reliance. The festival will bring the whole community together and create a great atmosphere, with the sounds of Rockers Bootleggers, Albert Frost and the soulful Majozi keeping everyone dancing long into the night. Being located approximately 40km from Cape Town, there is the option to camp overnight – so the party really can go on all night long.

 

Both events are set to be real showstoppers, proving that you don’t need to be on the grid to have a good night out.

 

More information for both events can be found here:

Off The Grid Melbourne               –              http://www.offthegrid.global/

Off The Grid Camphill Village      –              http://www.camphill.org.za/camphill-village-music-festival

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Positively negative

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positively-negative

I’m amazed at how the people in your life can become your biggest and loudest critics when you decide you are going to do something, especially something positive and life changing. You have decided to take the plunge and move off grid, then there they are, your friends, your family, they begin telling you all the things that can go wrong, all the mistakes you are going to make, how you are going to fail, how risky change like that is, how you shouldn’t even try, bla bla bla.

What’s even worse, is these people will most likely never do anything like this with their life, they are afraid, afraid of change, afraid of risk, perhaps even afraid of succeeding. As a result, they don’t think anyone else would be able to or even should be able to make such a change in their life. They will take every opportunity to let you know that your chances of succeeding are so slim, your chances of failure are so sure, they will do everything they they can to pull you down to a point where you will give up your dreams.

I’m here to tell you, yes stepping away from your regular life is risky, everything you do is a risk, sitting still is risky too. Don’t listen to the naysayers, don’t allow the negative people to decide which road you take, you are the only one that gets to do that. Choose to walk the path that leads you to your dreams, to the things you have always wanted to do. If you are here, reading this, I have to assume your dream includes living more independently, perhaps even off grid.

Start making your plans, set some goals, learn more skills that will help you now and in the future. If your circle of people around you aren’t supportive of your plans, then enlarge your circle to include more positive supportive people. I’m not saying to ditch your current friends, just know which ones are supportive of your dreams and which aren’t and understand that the ones who aren’t supportive, aren’t necessarily trying to pull you down, they are just afraid, or perhaps they are content in their current life. If you aren’t content and want to move toward a different life, then DO IT, surround yourself with folks who will support your dreams and even help you achieve them. Start the new year off with a new direction and a more supportive set of friends.

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Last Minute Gifts to Unplug with

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Warm feet and a smile

Warm feet and a smile

So, what’s in your off grid Christmas gift kit? If you’re having some trouble choosing what to get for your off-grid someone, here are five suggestions to make your shopping easier.

 

goTenna Mesh

The goTenna Mesh is a great gift for the outdoor lover. This off grid communication tool is lightweight as well as weatherproof and can be used with both iPhone and Android systems. If one loses their bearings, they will be able to send texts as well as share the GPS locations on detailed offline maps. They can also relay those messages through other goTenna Mesh devices nearby to extend the overall range which has the potential to be life-saving. It currently retails at £125 for a pair.

 

SR Utility Blanket

This is an all-purpose heavy-duty utility blanket. The denier nylon material is hand sewn and includes pack cloth front and back panels. The industrial threading ensures durability for outdoor performance. This blanket is a great gift to anyone planning to camp out, keep them warm and dry. It retails for £175.

 

Leatherman Rebar

The Rebar is new to Leatherman’s multi-tool collections. It contains 17 tools including a wire stripper, 420HC knife, 420HC serrated knife, regular pliers, a can opener, a bottle opener, a wood/metal file, an 8 in ruler, a saw, premium replaceable wire cutters, premium replaceable hard-wire cutters, an electrical crimper and Phillips screwdriver, a small screwdriver, a large screwdriver, an Awl w/Thread Loop and needlenose pliers. The Rebar pliers have been optimized for strength and feature replaceable wire/hard-wire cutters is a first for a four-inch tool from Leatherman. It retails for £56.

 

Pendleton Men’s Merino Jacquard Park Crew Socks

Your loved one can tell you that one of the most important things to pack when gearing up to go explore is a pair of good socks. The Pendleton Men’s Merino Jacquard Park Crew Socks is a great addition to any Christmas kit. It is made up of 89% Merino Wool, 9% Polyester and 2% Spandex. One fun fact is that this new line of wool park socks celebrates 100 years of national parks and exclusive Pendleton jacquard designs are combined with National Park Stripes. Also, not only is this fashionable, it is also functional. Designers have added just the right amount of spandex to prevent slippage and ensure a consistent fit throughout the day. A deep, welted top helps hold the sock in place and reduces pinch lines. With a fully cushioned sole for comfort and fit, this is a great gift retailing at £25.

 

Portable Charger

A portable charger is a great tool for people who are going off grid and are unable to get to the usual power supplies. With the RAVPower 22000mAh Power Bank, those going off grid can recharge their iPhone batteries up to 9 times, making sure that they are never out of touch with their loved ones. There is a UL94 V-0 fire-resistant shell (used by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and others for their luxury cars) and the RAVPower 22000mAh Power Bank also comes with Micro-USB Charging Cables (X2), Carry Pouch, User Guide and LIFETIME Warranty Card. This product retails for £29.

Merry Christmas and happy shopping!

 

 

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Here we go again…

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screenshot_2016-12-15-12-53-18-01

I’m very conflicted, I just signed up for a “service” that I would ordinarily want to have, especially at the monthly cost I’m going to be paying, but I’m so very extremely annoyed at the fact that I’m FORCED to purchase this “service”, or else. I’m sure you have figured out I’m talking about healthcare, or as it’s more commonly referred to as Obamacare.

So what is the “or else” if I choose not to participate? Near $700, that would be my fine if I don’t sign up, and having the IRS come after me, something the IRS was NEVER meant to be part of. I concretely believe that this is unconstitutional, forcing citizens of the USA to purchase healthcare or any other commercial service, but as one tiny blip on the radar, what can I do? I don’t mind having the coverage, I rather like having inexpensive healthcare, and if it were available without the “or else” hanging over my head, I would be first in line to sign up, it’s the “or else” that is just plain wrong.

Today is the last day to sign up to get in for the 2017 coverage starting in January, being the procrastinator that I am, I waited until today to sign up. I have been getting the email reminders as well as the automated phone calls telling me that today was the last day I could sign up… they make it sound so dire, as if the world might come to an end if I ignore their pleas, who knows, it just might.

When I got to the website earlier today, it was quite clear that I’m not the only procrastinator, I was put in a queue (line, on hold for those in the USA) to wait my turn for the website to accept me. I waited less than an hour so all in all it wasn’t terrible. I actually started to do this last night, there was no wait time, I got right in, but I was on a tablet, I needed some information that was difficult to get on my tablet so I gave up, figuring I would finish today with my laptop.

I actually signed up last year, for much the same reasons, the “or else”, I ended up never using my healthcare insurance all year long, for a variety of reasons, the main one being I never needed to use it, of course I understand that anything could have happened, an accident, an illness and I would have used it then, but as a healthy 50 something year old, I have just never had the need to go to the doctor much in my life. I also understand that the premiums I paid went into a pool to help offset the costs of other people who did use their healthcare coverage.

I wonder how things might change with President elect Trump about to come into office, one of the main things he plans on changing is Obamacare, they are supposed to replace it with something else, I don’t see how they can abolish it completely as there are so many using it now (rightly or wrongly). I hope they are able to change some of the laws that restrict the insurance companies from truly being competitive, right now if another state has cheaper insurance that covers the same or more, I can’t access it, that is just ONE thing that can be changed.

As I said, I don’t mind having access to inexpensive health care, I just don’t like the “or else” part, it should be voluntary, not forced upon us. One of the complaints about those of us who don’t want Obamacare is not offering any sort of alternative option, well…

I have an idea that might work, of course this is easy to come up with sitting where I am, not knowing all the in’s and out’s of how these things work, but here goes: There is a need for inexpensive or even free healthcare for many people, but it is expensive, doctors and other medical and support staff have bills to pay, student loans and the such. Let’s have a plan where the government pays for people to go to medical school (and any other schooling needed for the medical and support staff), it can be completely free for the person wanting to enroll, BUT they must agree to work in a government run hospital or clinic for X number of years, let’s say 10 years, could be more, could be less depending on how long they go to school and what their degree is in… they would earn an income but would have to complete their time, if they failed to complete their agreed time, then they would be responsible for paying part of all of what it would have cost for them to complete their education.

The public could use these government hospitals, their payment for services would be based on a sliding fee scale, they would pay what they could afford based on their income.

I know that sounds simplistic, but I suspect it could work, I think there would be a lot of people lining up to get their free education, they would have work waiting for them when they completed their education, the public would have access to inexpensive healthcare, problem solved.

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Teaching Your Children to Homestead

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Kids in hayfield

Kids learn fast – this might save their life

Homesteading originally referred to the federal government granting land to families who were willing to work it. In modern times, it does not happen that way anymore and homesteading is about families who have decided to live off the grid and grow their own food. Modern-day homesteading involves cooking, farming and fixing things around the house on your own.

Most homestead parents understand the importance of passing on these vital skills to their children.

Why Should Your Children Know How to Homestead?

Children of this current generation have become over-reliant on the system. They get their food ready-made, their clothes already sewn and their water already piped to their homes with no knowledge of how to get these things for themselves. If the system was to crash then they would be left helpless with no idea of how to survive on their own.

Homesteading instills in them an attitude of self-sufficiency. It gives them the information and experience that they would need to fend for themselves in any situation. With such an attitude, they are well-prepared to cope should the world change in an unexpected manner.

As a parent, it is your duty to ensure that your child has all of the skills required to make it in a world whose future is uncertain. Most parents opt to give them regular schooling, but that education is sorely lacking in survival skills.

What Skills Will They Need to Learn?

Sewing and knitting were skills traditionally left to women, but there is no room for gender bias in the 21st century. Your sons need to know how sew, knit and do their laundry and your daughters should know how to change a tire or learn which way to turn a screw to open it.

Fixing things around the house is another job that both boys and girls need to know how to do. The time may come when your daughter is the only one on the homestead and she can’t afford to wait around for someone else to come and fix the leaky faucet. All it takes is the right tools and the right mindset and she can get it fixed on her own.

Hunting is a tough job and not just as simple as chasing down rabbits. Children in the homestead must be taught how to track animals through the forest and bait them so that they can become efficient hunters. Along with hunting they also must know how to butcher the kill, clean and salt it if necessary so that it can be preserved.

Hunting is good if the animal stocks are low but animal husbandry is there to provide a more convenient source of animal produce. Teach your kids how to milk cows, water them and muck out their stables. These are simple jobs that even a young child can learn to perfect.

Naturally, they will love some chores more than others. Your outdoorsy children will prefer working on the farm, while some will be more comfortable with household chores. This is great opportunity to teach them how to work together. As long as you have taught them how to do each job individually, then you can let them share out the responsibilities among themselves.

How to Get Them Motivated

Children who are born on homesteads adjust easily to the rural way of life. If your family has just moved to the homestead from the suburbs or the city, then your kids will have a hard time adjusting to the new lifestyle.

If your children grew up in the city before they moved to live on a homestead then you can expect a fair amount of resistance to the hard, physical chores. They are used to how their lives were before and probably don’t understand the values of what you are trying to teach them.

Cash allowances will get them motivated at first. However, personal responsibility is one of the forgotten traits that you are trying to teach them so try not to make their learning how to homestead too reliant on rewards. You want them to know why they have to learn those skills so always take the time to talk to them and explain to them why it is important to learn how to homestead.

Hold them accountable for all of their responsibilities and stick to strict ‘no excuses’ policy. If a job needs to get done then it has to be done. That’s the reality of how hard life can be and the sooner they learn it the better adapted they will be to handle whatever crisis comes their way.

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Why Survival Requires Community

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Many preppers, survivalists, and even religious folks are looking to form communities to foster their prospects for long-term survival. This may mean building an intentional community from scratch, or simply creating a community of like-minded friends and neighbors for mutual assistance. This is a great idea. However, I still find some resistance to the idea of community by those folks who seem to favor the lone-wolf or small, isolated family retreat modes of survival. In this article, I want to explain why I think forming or creating a larger community is the better path to survival.

The first reason is that humans are social creatures. We are designed (by God or evolution, depending on your worldview) to need interaction with other people. This is why solitary confinement is considered such a severe form or punishment. We suffer mentally and emotionally when we are cut off from other people. Loneliness, depression, and mental illness will result from long periods of isolation, whether as individuals or even in very small groups.

The second reason is the fact of physical limitations. We get tired. We get sleepy. We can typically only do one task at a time. Some tasks require more than one person. And there are time factors to consider. Security, for instance, will require full attention. You are not going to be able to pull security duty AND work in the garden or do other chores at the same time. You are not going to be able to pull 12-hour security shifts for any length of time. Try to do so, and you will become tired, distracted and ineffective. (I’ll do a future article in which I’ll posit that an absolute minimum requirement for a survival community is at least six healthy adults, probably more.)

The third reason is limited skill sets. A truly self-reliant survival group will need a large variety of skills sets. Yet, we all have a limited number of skills as individuals. Remember, there will be no outside help of any kind – no fire departments, EMTs, police departments, hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, tailors, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, or repairmen of any kind, except for that which we have within our community. We will have to provide for all our needs ourselves. Of course, we should all work towards becoming as self-reliant as possible, but no one person, no one family, will ever be able to truly do it all.

The fourth reason is safety in numbers.  The idea many have is that a family in an isolated rural area will survive by hiding. But reality tells us something different. Fernando Aguirre in his book,  The Modern Survival Manual, writes about the experience during the economic collapse in Argentina during the early 2000s. Far from being safe, small isolated farms were actually hunted down and targeted by well-armed gangs. This experience has been mirrored in other historical, real world examples, such as during the Bosnia War in the 1990s.  A small retreat with only two or three adults to provide security will be an extremely tempting and easy target for large, well armed groups during a collapse in the USA. No, I wouldn’t want to live in a large urban center, but small retreats aren’t safe either.

This is the second in a series of articles on Community. The first article in the series is Building Community – Evaluating Potential Members. Additional articles will be posted in coming weeks.

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Looking for Christmas gift ideas for the Outdoorsmen on your list? May I suggest two books by Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty: The American Fisherman: How Our Nation’s Anglers Founded, Fed, Financed, and Forever Shaped the U.S.A. and his earlier book American Hunter: How Legendary Hunters Shaped America. Purchases made through these links help finance this website. Thank You.

Bad news: Its Doomsday – Good news: You will die in total Luxury

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DALLAS 11 Nov – AP – A Texas investor group is building a $300 million luxury fly-in community replete with survival tools – the underground homes and air-lock blast doors will be designed for super-rich families worried about a dirty bomb or other disaster.

The Trident Lakes community has begun with a flourish northeast of Dallas near the Oklahoma border: A statue of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, holding a golden trident will stand some 50 feet above a massive fountain billed as one of the largest in the world.

Subtlety won’t do for Texas.  Although the organisers are curiously self-effacing, and few photos exist, if any.

“The initial perception is that it’s defined as a doomsday scenario,” said James O’Connor, CEO of Dallas-based Vintuary Holdings, which represents the collection of investors backing the project. “I’m trying to change the perception to a long-term sustainable community, with the concept of a 200-year community. We’re not looking at just putting all our residents underground; we’re looking to put together a beautiful place to live that’s also secure.”

The standard luxury amenities will apply: 18-hole golf course, high-end spa, gun ranges, zip lines, shops and restaurants, and not just a single helipad but a row of them. But plans call for the 700-acre spread to also include an equestrian center, polo fields and 20-acre lakes with white-sand beaches. The entire compound will be wrapped by a 12-foot wall and have private security manning watchtowers. The project has received the necessary approvals, O’Connor said, and people are expected to take up residence in 2018.

Developers intend to construct about 400 condos that have 90 percent of their living space underground. Most would cost in the mid-six figures and each topped with a terrace overlooking one of the lakes. The community could have as many as 1,600 residents who, should disaster strike, can rely on water and energy production that’s off the grid. O’Connor said designs and concepts may change as the project progresses, but a navigable tunnel network and an air-purification system are planned.

As is a DNA vault. The vault is an opportunity for “family sustainability,” said Richie Whitt, spokesman for Trident Lakes.

“You can take DNA and preserve it, where if something should happen, then technology down the road could take DNA and replicate a person,” he said. “It’s kind of science fictiony but it’s also not that far in the future.”

Whitt said Friday that Vintuary Holdings has purchased land in Ohio for a similar community and investors hope to expand the idea to other states. He didn’t provide further details.

It’s not clear just how many similar bunker communities are open for business in the U.S. or other countries. The Vivos Group, based in California, has six in the U.S. and one in Germany.

“It’s definitely something, anecdotally, that we’re seeing more and more of,” said Jeff Schlegelmilch, deputy director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University in New York.

The center works with an array of companies, groups, states and other entities to ensure a broad, comprehensive response when a natural or man-made disaster strikes. The concern for Schlegelmilch is that groups like Trident Lakes cut themselves off from that shared response.

“The aggregate of individual preparedness translates into greater community preparedness, and the aggregate of community preparedness leads to greater national preparedness,” he said.

But Whitt says Trident Lakes is pursuing a sustainable community that by definition means people must rely on one another. He says residents are wanted with a varied skill set so that in the aftermath of a disaster everyone can contribute with the recovery.

O’Connor adds that Trident will offer more than protection from doomsday fallout. Well known celebrities and professional athletes have expressed an interest because of the privacy and security it will offer, he said.

“We think we have defined an untapped market,” he said.

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Will The Donald endorse Off-grid living in Tiny Homes?

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Trump poses in Scotland

Is this what Trump considers Tiny? Like his Hands?

Let’s make America Tiny again – like it was back in the days of the orginal settlers.

As the kleptocratic corporatocracy tightened its grip on the masses – finding ever more ways to funnel wealth to the top – rural residents have responded in a number of ways, including the rising popularity of tiny houses – and voting Trump.

These dwellings, typically defined as less than 500 square feet, are a way for people to break free of mortgages, taxes, utility bills and the general trappings of “stuff.” They’re especially attractive to millennials and retirees, or those seeking to live off-grid.

But government and corporations are finding all sorts of ways to block this new lifestyle choice.  The global system depends on rampant consumerism and people being connected to the grid.  So this really is not in their interest.  Politicians dont like off-gridders either – because they are difficult to canvass and control.

Seeking actual freedom through minimalist living should seem like a natural fit for the Donald’s  American dream, but the reality is that many governments around the country either ban tiny homes or force them to be connected to the utility grid.

As of now, few cities allow stand-alone tiny houses. Most communities have minimum square footage requirements for single-family homes mandating that smaller dwellings be an “accessory” to a larger, traditional house. Many also have rules requiring that dwellings be hooked up to utilities, which is a problem for tiny-house enthusiasts who want to live off the grid by using alternative energy sources such as solar panels and rainwater catchment systems.

Some of the more recent examples of explicit bans include Etowah, TN and Wasilla, AK, which don’t allow homes less than 600 square feet and 700 square feet, respectively.

Boise, ID doesn’t allow homes less than a few hundred square feet, as Shaun Wheeler of Wheeler Homes found when he built a perfectly good and safe 310 sq. ft. home.

Lawmakers spout slippery slope fallacies, saying that allowing tiny homes will lead to decay and “unsightly little cabins plunked down next to traditional homes.” Using government force to stamp out societal change in response to financial factors is this councilman’s idea of conservatism.

Granted, some cities are actually encouraging tiny homes as a means of freedom or as a solution to homelessness, as in Detroit, MI. Some Los Angeles lawmakers don’t see it that way, calling tiny homes for the homeless “a threat in many ways to our public safety.”

Wasilla residents are baffled by the tiny home ban, which seems to run contrary to Alaska’s wild and free nature. Tundra Tiny Houses is leading a new market of small home construction using renewable energy, and now they’ll have to tell customers Wasilla is not an option, in addition to Anchorage to Eagle River.

A big priority for tiny home dwellers is their reduced environmental impact. Many are capable of producing all their own energy from solar and wind, collecting rainwater and reusing graywater. Not depending on utility inputs naturally makes a lot of sense, especially for a tiny home on wheels.

Even those who put their tiny home on a piece of land away from crowded spaces – with the intention of living off-grid through renewable inputs – are considered outlaws if they don’t hook to the utility grid.

This of course ensures that utility companies, which are big donors to political campaigns and profit immensely from government-enabled monopolies, will always get their cut from every household.

In January the Free Thought project reported that sunny Nevada essentially killed its solar industry by increasing their tax on solar customers by 40 percent, causing solar providers to leave the state. The only beneficiary was NV Energy, whose energy monopoly was protected.

Spur, TX was the first city to advertise being “tiny house friendly” as a “town that welcomes new pioneers” – proudly supporting “reducing costs and gaining freedom to operate according to your own plan, unfettered by onerous and unnecessary costs.”

To have this “freedom,” you must secure your properly permitted tiny home to an approved foundation and be connected to city utilities. The property must always be mowed and the prime responsibility is “of course, paying your taxes!”

When cities require the same permitting for tiny houses on foundations as they do for traditional houses, it often doesn’t make financial sense to build tiny. “At that point it’s really more of a lifestyle choice than an economic choice,” said Nick Krautter, a real estate agent in Portland, Oregon, who abandoned plans for a tiny house development.”

23-year-old college graduate, Sarah Hastings, built a 190-square-foot home on three acres of farmland in Hadley, MA, complete with a garden next to it. But the town found she was not in compliance with zoning ordinances, and now her home is in storage.

Hastings proposed a change to the town’s laws to allow for her tiny home, but the measure was vote down “because some residents were afraid the town would be overrun with them.” There will be no minimalist, environmentally friendly living in Hadley.

Clearly, the emergence of tiny homes is being met with fear, and the resulting banishment of freedom, by too many towns and cities across America that can’t quite fathom this shift in the way people think about living.

It’s one thing to be concerned about safety issues, but the imposition of minimum square footage requirements and mandatory connections to city utilities is mindless authoritarianism.

Let’s hope places like Fresno, CA and Rockledge, FL, which are specifically allowing tiny homes on wheels, can help their more “traditional” counterparts embrace the future.

The post Will The Donald endorse Off-grid living in Tiny Homes? appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Couple build dream home using recycled materials for only £27,000

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Simon and his wife Jasemine built their dream home for only £27,000

Simon and wife Jasemine built dream home for only £27,000

 

Last week, a couple who dreamt of building their own eco family home and living off the land with their children appeared on the British TV show, Grand Designs. With only £500 in the bank, they started the project and didn’t give up.

Simon and Jasemine Dale later managed to save £27,000 after taking a few years out and working. Jasemine ran horticultural courses and sol produce whilst Simon did occasional consultancy work on low impact buildings. They did end up building the three-bedroom home for themselves and their children Elfie and Cosmo, in the sustainable Lammas community Pembrokeshire, UK. In order to move into the community, they first had to prove they could fulfill a strict planning condition and that they could be self-sufficient on their seven-acre plot – or be forced to move out.

 

Their house was built on a sustained plot of land and they had to prove they were able to live self-sufficiently on it

Their house was built on a sustained plot of land and they had to prove they were able to live self-sufficiently on it

They proved that they could though as well as proving that you can build your dream home with recycled materials for a fraction of the cost. Presenter of the Show, Kevin McCloud described it as “the cheapest house ever built in the Western Hemisphere”.

 

The floors were made of rammed earth, which was polished and hardened with linseed oil and structure of the home was made from timber polls, all grown, felled, prepared and sawn by Simon. But don’t feel sorry for him, he loved every minute of it. He told the show that:

 

“It’s been hard and I wasn’t asking for an easy life. I like a challenge. To put in a hard day’s graft and be tired at the end of the day. That exhaustion is a nice feeling.”

 

At the front of the house, they decided to install a greenhouse to preheat air for the house and grown food.

Their daughter, Elfies room. The structure was made by Simon

Their daughter, Elfies room. The structure was made by Simon

The couple used sheep wool and grass as insulation in the walls and the roof, reclaimed glass for the windows and kitchen fixtures and appliances from car boot sales and eBay.

 

 

The Dale’s have proved that a green lifestyle and living off the land can be cheap and still comfortable with their beautiful eco home.

 

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Why the phrase “off the grid” has Hollywood gripped

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The new Jason Bourne films encompasses off-grid living for a more thrilling feel

New Jason Bourne film brings in off-grid living for thrills 

 

The theme of off-grid living is sweeping through Hollywood as it takes a center stage role in upcoming blockbusters.

The newest Bourne movie hits the big screen this week, and lead character Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) immerses himself into off-grid living as he tried to shake loose those who are tracking him. He makes a career for himself on the bare-knuckle fight circuit somewhere in southern and central Europe as old associates reappear throughout the movie. This film is not out yet but it is pretty safe to say that when they refer to Bourne as being off-grid they don’t mean he’s living on a farm using hydropower to decode top CIA Intel. But rather ‘off the radar’; one can guess burner phones and such will be used. His romantic interest Nicky Parsons is back and has downloaded confidential files about Bourne’s former life as David Webb. The film is said to keep you on the edge of your seat once is gets going and definitely is on our list to watch.

 

Another sequel is soon on it’s way out, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is another part two thriller. Tom Cruise who plays Reacher stumbles upon a grand conspiracy and goes, guess where?  Off the grid, according to the press releases. Surfing from motel to motel and covering his back, he tries his hardest not to  be tracked as he unwraps this mystery.

 

Films such as Captain Fantastic, Life of Pi, 127 Hours, Wild have all used the OG word in their PR packs. But what exactly is it about the theme of going ‘off-grid’ that really goes down a treat with audiences? Granted, there’s not much of actual off-grid living in the terms of living a sustained life, living off the food that you grow, using solar power instead of the grid. No, it’s more the mysterious and independent side of living off-grid that really gets the movie audiences going. In times like this, globalization and the rise of technology has interlinked people from across the world. Perhaps it’s the idea that once you go off-grid, you’re technically unknown. These days most people have a phone and on that phone, there is some sort of geo-location software or a software that allows you to be tracked. So maybe it’s the idea of not being tracked that is endearing to people, which is why Hollywood has integrated off-grid living into so many of its film narratives.

Both films are being released this week so keep your eyes peeled if you’re interested in watching them in full.

 

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Crucial court hearing for Steward Wood

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Off-grid community nestled in a national park in England

Off-grid community nestled in a national park in England

 

You may remember the Steward Community Woodland Group from our previous article ‘Dartmoor community eviction‘. There’s a little summary downpage.

Since then, the Woodlanders have graciously thanked all for their support, but their current situation calls for even more support from the public. The self-sufficient group has decided to challenge their loss at court. Their latest Facebook post reads: “The most important thing happening at the moment is our High Court challenge of the Planning Inspector’s decision. Before our case can go ahead to a full hearing, a judge will decide whether we have a sufficient case to proceed”.

The judge has allowed them to do this orally which apparently indicates that they have a good chance of winning. If they win, they have to pay £10,000 and if they lose, it’ll be £15,000. They have asked anyone who is happy to help fund the legal fees to contact them via their website or Facebook page or call them on 01647 440233.

More updates as they come.

 

STEWARD WOOD BACKGROUND SUMMARY

  • The group is made up of 23 men, women, and children, who live off-grid in Dartmoor National Park in Devon
  • They have lived peacefully side by side with nature for 15 years in the park on temporary planning permission
  • The park authorities are now ordering them out on the grounds that they are having a “harmful impact on the character and appearance of the Devon park”
  • The same authorities are allowing property developers to make millions building hundreds of homes.  See our new video here
  • Their appeal was rejected on the 10th August 2016

 

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Off grid underground Hobbit house

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Kristie Wolfe is no slouch when it comes to building unusual homes, she goes in with ideas put to pen and paper and begins to build her dream. This time she is building a Hobbit style village on some acreage in rural Washington. Being off grid is as much something desired as it is necessary, it’s cost prohibitive to put in electric service, or any other commercial city type service out there.

She built into a hillside, taking advantage of the earth as a natural insulation against the heat and the cold. I’m not sure I would enjoy the layout of the first Hobbit home she built, putting the front door in the bedroom. It does make for some nice views, I prefer my bedroom area to be more private myself… The “fireplace” is not real either, it’s a facade created around a propane heater, I certainly don’t mind propane, I use it myself, but I’d like to see a real fireplace with a real chimney so that wood could be burned in it if you wanted.

Other than those two things, I love the Hobbit home she build, I can’t wait to see the next one. Here is a video tour of the home, enjoy!

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Tiny turf houses in Iceland

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beautiful-tiny-turf-houses-in-iceland

I love seeing how people used to live, “back in the day” as we like to say. It’s interesting and educational to see how people used the natural materials available to them to build their homes, more than mere shelters, these were places where families lived together, I like how they made individual places for each part of living, one building for living/sleeping, one building for cooking, another building for storage and so on. They kept each building small so it could easily be heated in the winter, and also so that it could easily be torn down and rebuilt without disrupting the entire household.

They didn’t have access to wood (trees) so much of what they used was volcanic rock and turf. They also tore down and rebuilt the spaces about once a generation, reusing the rock and anything else they could reuse, digging out new turf to chink between the rock. They also built partially into the ground, using the earth to insulate and protect their living spaces. They built in small narrow hallways, or tunnels between the living spaces so they didn’t have to go outside to get from one living space to another, a real heat saving move in the winter.

I don’t know how their summers were, but I suspect being dug into a hill also helped to keep the living spaces cooler. It seems they didn’t have much privacy, everyone slept in the same room, fortunately it seems everyone had separate beds, at least only a couple or a few people slept together per bed, there were slight partitions between the beds, but nothing like how we live today. I suppose if that’s all you know, then you would be used to it and live accordingly.

I also understand that since they had very little wood, they actually used their own body heat to keep the living spaces warm, another good reason for everyone to reside and sleep in the same room.

This video was quite interesting and eye opening, apparently that way of life has just come to an end, merely one generation ago, there are still people alive who grew up living that way.

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Auroville, the Utopia next door

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Utopia: Auroville, South India

Crowded: commune living, South India

 

Imagine a place free from politics, religion and money. People from every background, of all ages, living in unity and self-sufficiency. The food that you all eat you grew together from scratch on organic farms. Utopia?

Auroville.

A small universal township, located in south India – on the border of Tamil Nadu state. The concept was birthed from an idea of a township devoted to an experiment in human unity in the 1930s.

It gets better- you can visit it. Yes, this isn’t just a place people may hear whispers about but never actually get to see — you can travel there quite easily, let us show you how.

It was set up officially on the 28th February 1968. 5,000 new occupants assembled at the centre of the township for a ceremony. They brought with them soil from their individual homelands to be mixed in with the new soil of Auroville and there is an urn in the middle containing all the mixed samples of Earth. It is said that the purpose of Auroville is “to realise human unity.”

Behold, the Soul Of The City

Behold, the Soul Of The City

There is the most beautiful Peace Area located in the middle of the town called the ‘Soul Of The City’ or the Matrimandir at the centre of the township. It helps to create an “atmosphere of calm and serenity” and serves as a groundwater recharge area. Many gather here at sundown.

 

The population is now 2,400 but it can hold up to 50,000 people. The inhabitants live sustained lives side by side in harmony, without money and politics (even though it is backed by the Govt. of India). It is self-sufficient with over 160 hectares of organic farms, cornfields and orchards. The city area was actually built with a radius of a 1.25km ‘Green Belt’ comprised of forests, dairies, wildlife areas. All of which provide habitats for wildlife and serve as sources of food, timber, medicine and so on.

 

They have stated on their website that they have planned a further extension of their Green Belt to transform ‘wasteland into a vibrant eco-system’. They say they are working towards adding an impressive 800 more hectares. Find out more on their website.

One of the many farms that feed the population in Auroville

One of the many farms in Auroville

The nearest international and domestic airport is Chennai International Airport. If you are already in India and would prefer travelling leisurely by rail, Chennai Central Railway Station connects to all the major cities in India with its reliable express trains such as Tamil Nadu
Express and Rajdhani Express (fully air-conditioned).

 

You can watch someone’s personal experience of entering Auroville as the track how exactly they got there via a travel vlog they uploaded on YouTube. If you have liked what you’ve read, you can support the cause and donate to Auroville here.

It was backed by the Indian Government in 1960 and taken to the General Assembly of UNESCO. Six years later UNESCO passed a unanimous resolution “commending it as a project of importance to the future of humanity, thereby giving their full encouragement.” You can read the full statement of support here.

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Dartmoor community eviction notice after 15 years

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The off-grid Steward community group has 23 members and have lived in the woods for over a decade

The off-grid Steward Community Woodland group has 23 members and lived in the woods with local support

 

An off-grid community located in woodland within Dartmoor National Park, UK are faced with eviction after 15 years of living side by side with nature. The park authorities are ordering them out on the grounds that they had a “harmful impact on the character and appearance of the Devon park”.

The Steward Community Woodland group appealed this decision, stating that they are doing just the opposite; they claim that they have “hugely improved the biodiversity on their 32-acre plot”. Their homes are completely off-grid, made up of recycled timber produced on the very site, amongst other reused materials elsewhere, they fit in nicely with the wooded area.

A community stalwart named Merlin manages the community energy schemes such as solar and hydro power systems to generate and store power for the 23 occupants.

Member Daniel leads his "wild food taster" session in Dartmoor Park

Member Daniel leads his “wild food taster” session in Dartmoor Park

The group also boasts itself as an open community, with locals welcomed to come down and help in the communal gardens. Schoolchildren from the local area are also invited to learn more about woodland and growing skills in a hands-on and fun way instead of inside a classroom.

Tom Greeves, the chairman of the Dartmoor Society has praised the group, stating: “We admire the tenacity and dedication over 15 years of the small group of men, women, and children who have opted for a very different lifestyle”

However, the park authority does not agree. They have granted temporary planning permission twice so far and now the development management committee has refused permanent permission.

The 14 adults, four teenagers and five children who live there are devastated and have appealed the decision.

Sonia Parson who has raised 3 of her children on the commune said she is heartbroken by the news in a video you can watch here. She says her kids see the other members and the animals they live among as family and do not want to be moved on.

The decision was made on the 10th August 2016. The group took to their website to express their anguish over the news: “It is with huge sadness and utter shock that we must let you know our appeal has been dismissed” one post reads. Whilst another exclaims gratitude to their supporters:  “We received over 400 letters of support and a significant number from our local area. We would like to THANK all the people who wrote in and have supported us mentally,

Whilst another exclaims gratitude to their supporters:  “We received over 400 letters of support and a significant number from our local area. We would like to THANK all the people who wrote in and have supported us mentally, physically and emotionally. Your support will and has been a huge help to us.

You can view the details of the appeal here.

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We want to hear YOUR stories

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Vanessa Runs wrote about her transition

Vanessa Runs wrote about her transition

Some you will be reading this at your desk at which you spend 8 hours a day, just to pay the bills and mortgage. Some will stare at our off-grid memes, posted on out Facebook page just wishing they could trade in their settings and for something a little more extraordinary. But if you were given the chance, would you be brave enough to take the leap of faith?

Author Vanessa Run has done just that. She studied Journalism and went on to work in various media companies, but the work bored her and she realized that ‘living for the weekend’ was not living at all. Her current book is on escaping the rat race for an off-grid lifestyle, close to nature in a campervan traveling around the picturesque beauty New Zealand has to offer.

Writer Nick Rosen has also published his own book, How To Live Off-Grid, in which he embarked a similar journey in a campervan.

Nick has also made short films all over the world about off-grid homes and the people who built them.

Enough about other people, we want to know about you. How do you live? Can you send su a video? Or write a story with some still photos? Have you tried to live unplugged from the grid? Did you ditch your job for a mountain top cabin and a simpler life? We want to hear from you!

Write to us at news@off-grid.net

Name*
You don’t have to use your real name, just tell us what you would like us to call you
Tell us about yourself. Where do you live, how old are you, are you living alone or in a group etc, do you work.*
What do you do?*
Your story*

How has it changed your life?*
Do you plan on moving back?
Tell us about your new life (so how remotely do you live? What’s your daily life like now?)
Please add a photo or video if you think it will add to your story
File uploads may not work on some mobile devices.
Can we publish your response?*
Contact details
Please provide a telephone number or email. This will be kept confidential but we may contact you to ask you to contribute to our coverage.

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California Gov, Jerry Brown – Off-Grid

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The Conservative Governor is pro-environment and even spoke at the UN’s 2015 Paris climate change conference. Photo from Associated Press

 

Environmental champion, Jerry Brown says his next home will be totally off the grid. Powered by solar panels, the 2,674 square feet abode will include one-bedroom, one and a half bathrooms, a large lounge area, wood fireplace, an office, a mud room and a massive porch to sit on and watch the world go round.

 

Architect Dna Hoover describes it as a “boomerang-shaped building that kind of curls around a little knoll with two really old blue oak trees.” The site will afford the Browns “a pretty incredible view that’s quintessential California landscape. It’s incredibly beautiful but harsh in the same way,” he said.


Usually, Gov. Brown spends weekends at a rustic cabin west of Williams and resides the rest of the time in the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento, which is an energy sufficient property. He has described his cabin outside Williams in 2014 as “pretty primitive,” with no water or toilet. He said at the time that the first lady “would like more amenities.” Hence the fancy soaking tub and wood fireplace in the new home.

Aged 78, Brown is the state’s oldest and longest-serving chief executive and was first elected to a statewide office in 1970 and is set to govern until 2019. He is also a pro-environment fiscal conservative and is a longtime champion for environmental causes, so it’s surprising he’s realised that going off-grid is the way forward!

According to plans for the house, “landscaping shall be designed and installed so as to not use potable water.”

The fourth-term Democrat and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, sold their previous home in Oakland Hills this year, after giving up their Sacramento loft and moving into the renovated Governor’s Mansion. Brown will term out of office in 2019.

Hoover said he will start working on the solar panelled palace as soon as he gets a permit. “(Brown) wants it done now,” Hoover said. “They’re very anxious to move up here.”

We’re excited for you to move off-grid too, Jerry!

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Off-grid couple takes on Supreme Court and wins

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Colorado couple wins legal case over water usage

Victory!

Nestled in Colorado’s vast 125 miles long San Luis Valley, off-grid couple Chuck and Barbara Tidd sort to use a creek on their property to source energy from for their solar panels. Their self-sufficient decision erupted into a legal battle that went as high as to the Colorado Supreme Court.

In a radio interview the couple explains how the rocky mountains have a ‘desert feel’ to them and any water is scarce, which is one of the reasons the lawsuit was sparked. The couple live in a home they built themselves on the mountain tops, which previews jaw-dropping panorama views of the Valley. When they first moved in, they were told it would cost $100,000 to run power lines to their home which they declined, so they are 100% off the grid. They get their drinking water from the springs and their electricity from a solar array, which was fine until it was cloudy. With no chance of getting lines put in and no back-up for the solar power, they were stuck.

Until they looked at hydropower alternatives. Now, there was an irrigation ditch that ran through their property, thew only problem was that it belonged to another family (The Frees) down the hill, who disapproved of the Tidds using their water and the way they went about it.

“My understanding—incorrect understanding—was that you start working on it and then you file. Wrong.” Barbara explains “Chuck started digging and was going to lay some pipe and then he called the irrigators up to look at it and they said, “Don’t touch my ditch.”

There’s a Colorado Water Law that the Frees used to defend their case, known as the “Prior Appropriation System” that basically says “First in time, first in right.” It started back in early gold mining days and essentially allowed the first guys into dibs water in a stream before anyone else could use it.

What the Tidds wanted to do seemed more than fair, they wanted to run water through a pipe to generate power and then return every drop back to where they got it from. But the case got brought up to ‘Water Court’ where the Tidds won but the case was far from settled for the Frees. They challenged the judges decision and took it up to Supreme Court arguing that the Tidds could not use the water because it already belonged to them and they should have the right to use it before anyone else. Chuck wouldn’t back down though, he exclaimed in the interview and in court that: “water can be used for many uses. It’s a usufructuary right to use that water, meaning you don’t own it. They use the term ‘use the molecules of water’ before anybody else does. We’re not using any of the molecules of water; we are using the weight of the water as it goes downhill. That’s the whole point. They have to get their water in the right time, condition and quantity that their right entitles them to and we’re not trying to interfere with that at all.”

The Supreme Court judge agreed and they were granted the use of the water. Barbara and Chuck are now proud owners of a new water right, and the next step is to build their system.

By Chelsea Mendez

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Biggest off-grid area in Britain – on the water

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houseboat, canal, london, liveaboard

Could living on a houseboat be the perfect off-grid lifestyle for you?

 

British Waterway authorities have unveiled the largest off-grid community in Britain – on the canals of Hackney.

Yes, living aboard is booming in the UK and maybe they are onto something. It seems like a happy medium for some. You have the freedom of not paying rent or a mortgage, plus the very rewarding chance to be self-sufficient and independent. But instead of being isolated on a mountain top (which to some may be heaven), you could be doing all this whilst still living in a 24/7 hour city like London. A humble abode that is unplugged and all yours, inside the hustle and bustle of urban city life!

What you need to know about living on the water before taking the plunge:

 Firstly, it’s not as easy as just buying a boat, finding some water and setting up camp for the next 30 years. Everyone using canals and waterways needs to have a boat licence, an up-to-date boat safety check and valid insurance. Once that’s all done, you then you have two choices of lifestyle. You can either get a resident mooring, which enables you to stay in one area for as long as you like. A permanent mooring is ideal if you don’t want to move around, but can be expensive and hard to come by. While a mooring of this type can be had for around £6,000 annually in less popular areas, staying somewhere like the Docklands or Islington will cost over £20,000 a year.

 The other option is to cruise continuously – in which case all you need is the boat licence, which ranges from £510.62 to £1,110.32 annually, depending on the size of your boat. Boats are allowed to moor almost anywhere alongside canal towpaths. The main rule with this type of lifestyle is that you need to be moving at least every 14 days and can’t go back and forth between two spots. The recommended cruising range is at least 20 miles a year. It isn’t the most secure way of living, but it has to be done this way to consider all ‘liveaboards’.

 Canal and River Trust (CRT) have taken over from British Waterways the job of managing our canals and some rivers. For many years BW publically discouraged ‘liveaboards’, but did little about it. Living on a boat was seen, rightly or wrongly, as a way of avoiding paying rent and rates or of getting to the top of the council house waiting lists. The freedom of living afloat with low overheads was thought to appeal to many people who wanted to ‘turn their backs on consumer society’. Equally, though some of the most desirable London properties float on the Thames or Regents Canal, and many people retired, sold the house and moved onto a canal boat to explore their own country.

Recently, possibly partly because of a shortage of economic accommodation, large increases in liveaboard boats have been reported, especially in a few locations. CRT reported that the total number of Continuous Cruising licences increased from 4,400 in 2012 to 5,400 in 2014, with an 85% increase in over one year in East London alone. Out of those 5,400 boats, 16% moved less than 5 kilometres, and 66% moved under 20 kilometres in a year.

 A spokesperson for the Canal & River Trust, Fran Read, says the stretch of east London encompassing Victoria Park, Hackney and Broadway Market is a particularly trendy area, attracting record numbers.

 ‘Boat living can be a fantastic way of life, which many people love, but it comes with its own challenges. It may take a whole day to move the boat and find a new mooring – you can end up in a queue behind others.

 ‘Sometimes people can get a bit of a shock, especially in winter, when they realise it’s not just a floating house. So we advise that you should only move aboard if you really love the lifestyle.’ Mooring on the tidal Thames is another challenge – there is much more demand than moorings available. You also need to be part of a licensed works with planning permission, such as a pier or jetty, with safe access 24/7. The houseboat needs to be connected safely for electricity, water, and sewage (discharging sewage into the river is illegal).

 In addition, a residential mooring on the Thames requires a set of detailed consents, including local authority planning permission, consent from the riverside landowner and a Port of London Authority River Works licence.

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Floating paradise

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If I weren’t living where I do now and loving it, this is how I would want to live, on a homemade island home. These two artists are truly living the dream, I can’t imagine how it must be living on the water like that, but they sure have made it work. Listening to them talking, Catherine King and Wayne Adams, I can hear PB and myself in them, especially the part about him knowing every board and nail in the place as he put each one there himself.

01

Seeing it from the sky is the best way to get a sense of the place, it’s bigger than it seems. I love the way it seemed to have grown in an organic manner, not seeming to have a plan, but just being added on to bit by bit as it was needed or wanted. It has taken them 24 years to get it to this point. One last thing I’ll mention before moving on to the video, they have 2 chihuahuas, anyone with chihuahuas are alright in my book. 🙂

I hope you enjoy watching this video as much as I did.

https://youtu.be/z9WWzbzevTA

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Which 1988 Team GB Olympian now lives in a shed?

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Eddie The Eagle unplugs. Photo from Dave J Hogan

 

As the Rio Olympics draw to a close, it’s nice to think of the medalists returning home to praise and honour. But that is often not the case.

Although he came in last in his competition, accident-prone skier Eddie the Eagle returned to England after the 1988 winter games in a blaze of glory. They even made a Hollywood movie about him.

He was the only Briton to qualify for the ski jump. But now he’s hit the skids – living off-grid in a shed in his family’s back garden, eating sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, following a ‘wipeout’ divorce with ex-wife, Samantha Morton.

He revealed in an interview that the split had cost him about 85% of his wealth, and the £180,000 that he had earned from the recent movie about him, he had to give to his ex-wife whom he had met whilst working as a radio presenter part-time alongside his law degree. She was his co-host and they were married for 13 years, raising two daughters, Otillie, 11 and Honey May, 8.

Trying to rack together all the money he can get, he explains his current plan: “I had to sell my flat in Bedford, which I got about 30 years ago, to pay my anticipated tax bill. I got £175,000 for it. I’ll also have to pay capital gains tax from the property sale. At least 90% of the money in my account is earmarked for tax.
“I’m trying to save up from all my work now. I moved into the shed in my garden about a year ago while developing my new house; I’ve lived off sandwiches ever since because I don’t have a kitchen. Egg sandwiches are my favourite.”

Okay, so his off-grid lifestyle is only temporary whilst he gets back on his feet and his new home is built. But still, he’s been living unplugged for about a year now and doesn’t seem to be complaining! When asked how it feels to have lost essentially everything, he preaches that “It’s just one of those things. If you think about it too much, you get depressed, so I think: I made it once, I made it twice, I can make it three times. You have to be philosophical.”

Shocking as it may be, Eddie (born Michael Edwards) lived out his Olympic days in a similar fashion. Being poor, he slept in his car in between events and lived off scraps whilst training, all to compete for Great Britain. So living in a shed couldn’t be too much of a shock to the system. I mean, despite becoming a global celebrity from his skiing, in 1992, he was declared bankrupt. Claiming the trust fund into which he had put his earnings had not been properly managed. Years later, he bounced back and earned a law degree from De Montfort University in Leicester and started again.

Currently, Eddie has a mortgage, on the new home, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, and in between sponsorship and speaking engagements he works as a plasterer — his original trade. The film about him has now been released and you can view the trailer here if you like.

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Even RUSSIA is boosting off-grid living

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Russia's Far East region is red hot for off-grid opportunists

Russia’s Far East region is red hot for off-grid opportunists

 

You can get many things for free when you live in a good off-the-grid community. You can get your drinking water for free, from converting rainwater, you can get your energy for free from converting solar power.

What you can rarely get, in the USA or most other countries, is your land for free.

A good plot of land is essential to living unplugged comfortably, it’s helpful if you can grow your own food out of it and that can be costly.

Unless you are Russian.

Yes, the Russian government have launched a new programme giving away parcels of land in their Far East region for free. The scheme was put in place as an attempt to boost settlement in the thinly populated area, but it could give birth a new wave of Russian off-gridders?

The Russian Far East is two-thirds the size of China and only holds 6 million residents, compared with the 100 million who live in the Chinese provinces across the border. Sounds like the region is so unpopulated, you could get a plot of land almost anywhere – live peacefully – and still have enough room to build everything you want. Living off-grid in a place like Russia might not sound too attractive at first, but there are actually already some off-grid communities, such as the Kovcheg Village and the Rainbow Gathering.

The number of “eco-communes,” in Russia, has grown dramatically in the last decade, and the movement back to the land is drawing professionals weary of the country’s corruption, pollution, and new consumerism. Giving them a simpler, back to basics lifestyle that we all hope and dream for.

So, could you take the plunge and live off-grid in Russia?

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Real Estate magic – a Yurt in your Backyard

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Yurt in Garden

Photo from Wealdenheartwood

Living off-grid implies nature, tranquility – perhaps deep forest or a lonely mountain top, unplugged from the rest of the world. But have you ever thought about your own back garden as a place to unplug? As long as it has a side entrance, or some way of entering without going through the house = you could have yourself a free home.

The bit of green that your kids may have dug up when they were little, and where you would host the annual family BBQ, could be the golden location you’ve been hunting for. For various reasons, we’ve had to hide the identity of the subject of this story, but *Brendan” fills us in on how he’s done just that.

“I came to be living ‘off grid’ not so much from any long-term intention or planning as from finding myself a couple of years ago in a situation where I had sold my apartment, applied most of that money to various projects and good causes and was therefore unable to buy outright a new bricks and mortar dwelling. I am strongly against mortgages, having spent ten years paying one off and seeing all too clearly the vast power the practice of buying housing using borrowed money has given to the banks these last few generations.
  What I did still retain was the garden land attached to my house, near the centre of a small city, with a water supply, a south facing slope and good fertile soil for growing most crops. At the same time, friends who had bought and moved into a woodland were being told by the local government that they must take down the yurt in which they were living because it fell foul of the regulations for forestry land. They offered to sell it to Me at a good price.
   I have always been drawn to the idea of living ‘off grid’, my favourite fantasies having been either a houseboat or a gypsy caravan. The combination of this opportunity to acquire a good yurt and my then circumstances easily persuaded me to move into my own back garden.
  Erecting the yurt, a remarkably stable, wind-proof structure made from ash and cotton canvas, was the work of only a couple of hours. Compare that with the months, even years, of labour expended on modern bricks and mortar housing! A couple of hundred pounds bought a small wood-burning stove and flue whilst another small expenditure bought enough bees’ wax, from Payne’s Bee Farm, to waterproof the whole structure, having first been melted on the wood-burner (an annual task). That is the main structural maintenance job, best done in early autumn.
  The chief housekeeping expense and work, besides preparing food (mainly vegetables and fruit grown on my land using the deep bed method –  see John Seymour, ‘The Self-Sufficient Gardener’), is the getting and chopping of enough well-seasoned wood to heat the place and cook dinner. I trade food and labour with friends whose land produces abundant timber but can, if necessary, buy it with money, from a tree surgeon. I prefer to get large logs and split them myself, both for the exercise and to keep warm in the winter.
  Predictably the local government wanted to inspect my yurt to see whether it required planning permission, using the pretext (likely a lie) that some neighbour had complained about what the official swiftly, having visited, agreed is simply a tent in my back garden, movable, without foundations, and therefore exempt from requiring some sort of government permission. That’s how it is with a back garden: it is already designated, in their maps and plans, as ‘residential land’.
  My advice to anyone in a position to do so is to buy a bricks and mortar dwelling with a decent back garden, let the dwelling to suitable tenants who want to pay rent, council tax, electricity, gas, telephone etc. bills, and to do as I have done, which is a far less stressful, expensive, unhealthy way of life, close to nature, literally down to earth (the earth is my floor) and altogether cleaner.
  I am not interested in green ways of generating electricity in my home, having no need for generated electricity, as is also true of every other human on this planet. Until the late Nineteenth Century, there was none and that was not a problem. Candles (beeswax) are my lighting, sustainably harvested logs my heating, and that’s all I –  or anyone else – actually needs energy-wise, besides food, which is how people the world over have lived in similar ways for thousands if not millions of years. Even when electricity is cleanly generated it enables all kinds of distracting and harmful machinery, such as telephones and computers, to spoil one’s living space. When I choose to live off grid I am choosing not only to de-fund the harmful forces in this civilisation but to separate myself and my energy from their offerings, their technologies. Then one has time for such things as reading and art.
   Altogether it is one of the best choices I have ever made. Even living in the round, in a circular as opposed to a rectilinear dwelling, is important progress, or rather reversion, to what worked fine in the past. There is a reason, besides structural stability, why dwellings from the stone houses of Bronze Age Dartmoor to the tips of the Great Plains ‘Indians’ were round, which has to do with ‘chi’, energy, meant to flow and not accumulate like dust in the corners of rooms. Energy-wise I would also advise to go barefoot in such a dwelling as much as possible, to connect better with the Earth, and to sleep on the ground and not on a mattress: I use willow matting with sheepskins on top.
There are certain ways in which I ‘cheat’, but that is from convenience, not necessity. I use a laundromat for clothes washing, but could heat water in a large cooking pot on my wood burner. I use a neighbouring dwelling for a hot bath, but likewise could use the wood burner and a tin bath I acquired. I use the public library for a toilet, but could dig my own, and likewise use the library computer, where I am typing this, for email etc., when I could, as we did back in the 1980s and 1990s and before, write letters.
   It is very important to bear in mind that the most powerful artificial grid is not that of property taxes and gas, electricity, water, telephone etc. bills, but the information grid, including the increasingly wireless internet. Truly living ‘off-grid’ must involve a minimization of that grid in our lives, making sure that if we are using it at all we are doing so very warily so that it, or rather those behind it, do not use us, and always being willing and able to flourish without it, and indeed without any modern technology at all. It is a convenience, a useful tool, when used wisely, and must never be a necessity or addiction, as that path leads to ‘The Matrix’.
  I live, on my land, more or less in the Iron Age, but am very interested in getting back to the Stone Age, at least the Neolithic, which is surprisingly difficult given how we have come to rely on metal tools such as saws, knives, axes, cooking pots, stoves, and therefore a good challenge.
  To anyone who would like to emancipate themselves from the bricks, mortar, mortgage/rent and bills system but is afraid to do so, I would say ask yourself what is the worst that can happen and face that idea, always putting freedom before convenience and comfort. Amongst other advantages, it is one of  the best ways to connect with our ancestors and with those in such places as Amazonia who still live outside this civilisation. And remember it doesn’t have to be a hermitage: I have hosted a dinner party for nine people in my 14′ yurt, which was very magical, have had guests to stay overnight and even had a man come and set up a tent inside it!
B V Parnell

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Democrats, Beware! The Blacks Are Waking Up

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Democrats Beware The Blacks Are Waking Up

For several decades now, the Democrat Party has acted like they own the minority vote, most especially that of the Black community.

To a large part, that’s been true, as most minorities, especially the poor within those minorities, vote for the Democrats, hoping to get all the handouts that they are always promising. In this, the Democrats are using a time-tested tactic of using your and my tax dollars to buy the votes of the poor.

Of course, they don’t just buy their votes with free handouts; if that’s all they did, it would be bad enough. But rather, they foster envy and jealousy as well. That gives them the ability to keep the poor angry at the rich, in a classic class-warfare move.

Doing so is necessary, so that the poor don’t have a chance to get mad at the Democrats.

You see, people whose lives are miserable and whose needs aren’t being met will always be mad at someone. That basically means everyone who is either living from paycheck to paycheck or lower economically. So all the poor, lower class and lower middle class can qualify as being part of that.

Okay, so these people are upset, so what? It’s human nature to try and blame others for our problems, and we usually look for the highest and biggest target to blame. In other words, the most natural target for that anger is our political leadership.

When Republicans are in office, the Democrats feed into that natural desire to blame the highest target around; getting their constituents to be mad at the political leadership. But when Democrats are in office, they can’t allow that. They have to turn that anger elsewhere. Otherwise, they might be seen for the charlatans that they are.

So they pick other targets and get people focused on them. It really doesn’t matter who those targets are, just as long as they are big enough and high enough to garner the necessary attention.

They’ll use whatever Republican politicians are available, they’ll talk about the police, they’ll get people mad at corporations and businesses, they’ll even go after priests and nuns; anything to keep the spotlight of the public’s anger turned away from them.

Just look at the difference in how the media and the Democrats have handled Obama’s presidency, compared to Bush’s presidency. Granted, Obama is a Democrat, so he’s one of theirs; but that’s the point. The entire Democrat machine, including the mainstream media, is working overtime to make Obama look good and conservatives look bad.

Just look at the targets they’ve chosen, to direct the anger of the poor masses at:

  • Wall Street (Occupy Wall Street)
  • Bankers in general
  • Corporations in general
  • Christians – both for opposing gay rights and Islam
  • Police (Black Lives Matter)
  • Conservatives in general
  • And of course, any Republican politicians they can find

This isn’t a new tactic, but something they’ve used for years. Actually, they didn’t even invent it. Hitler used the same thing in Germany, turning the anger of the German people over their loss of World War I, the poverty they were living under and the high inflation against the Jews, blaming them for the country’s financial woes.

Forget that they spent all their money losing a war; it had to be the fault of the Jews. Otherwise, people might turn their anger against the government, which might ultimately mean turning it on Hitler himself.

Why do Democrats need to turn the anger of the minorities somewhere? Just look at their situation. Minorities in this country are quite literally getting the leftovers.

Black unemployment rates are much higher than White unemployment rates, especially amongst young men. Black youth from the ghettos are dropping out of school in droves, with few of them even gaining a high-school diploma, let alone a college degree.

Black families are falling apart, with the highest divorce rate and the highest percentage of single-parent homes amongst any group in the United States.

Blacks Are Waking Up

There is so much going wrong in the Black community, that it’s no wonder that they are dissatisfied with the condition. Somebody has to be at blame for that, and they are being very carefully instructed as to who to blame for it.

Again, we’ve got to ask the question, why do the Blacks need to have their attention directed at specific targets? Simply because the Blacks who are in the worst shape are in cities and states which have been run by Democrat politicians for decades.

If their anger isn’t properly directed away from their own political leadership, it would be all too easy for them to point the finger at Democrats, and realize what is happening to them.

But Blacks are starting to realize what is happening to them. Specifically, they’re starting to understand that the Democrat party has been using them, and has been doing so for years. Not all Blacks are coming to this realization, but enough are that it’s starting to make a difference; especially since some of those who are realizing it are key leaders in the Black community.

Quanell X, a leader of the New Black Panthers in Houston, Texas recently turned on the Democrat party, saying that Black Americans should “truly examine Donald Trump’s outreach to the black community.” He elaborated on that, adding that it’s time to “reexamine the relationship that black voters have with the Democrat Party.”

Video first seen on Fox 26 Houston.

That’s not all he said, making his stand much clearer by declaring “it’s a fact that for 54 years, we have been voting for the Democrat Party like no other race in America. And they have not given us the same loyalty and love that we have given them… we are being pimped like prostitutes, and they’re the big pimps pimping us politically, promising us everything and we get nothing in return.”

Those are pretty strong words, making a pretty strong accusation against the Democrat Party. But I’ve got to say, he’s absolutely right. The Democrats are and have always been the party of racism.

They claim that the racism of the past is gone, with the racial elements of the Democrat Party who were members of the KKK and created the Jim Crow laws have moved over to the Republican Party.

But it’s all a lie. Those words and others like them are nothing more than a ruse to hide the racism inherent in the Democrat Party.

Why do they have to hide it? Because they don’t want to get rid of it. The Democrats don’t want to do anything for Blacks, other than keep them dependent on government handouts. That serves their purposes, because it gives them a huge voting block they can count on, without costing them a thing.

I have long been suspicious of the Democrats, citing how every political party in the last century who has claimed interest in helping the poor, has done so for the purpose of using the poor to gain power. But in reality, those parties want the poor to remain poor, so that they can continue using them.

I don’t care if you’re talking about Stalinist Russia, Castro’s Cuba or Maoist China; they all used the same tactics.

So why are the poor so important to these politicians? There are two basic reasons. First of all, there are more poor than there are rich. So, by gaining the confidence of the poor and getting their vote, any politician can overcome the vote of the wealthy. The poor will always vote to have something that belongs to someone else taken from them and given to the much more deserving and needy amongst us, themselves.

Secondly, the poor are generally not as well educated, so it is easier to lie to them effectively and not have them realize what is happening. So, the Democrats, or any political group that tries to use the poor, has to invest very little to gain a lot.

I’m personally glad to see Quanell X pointing out the hypocrisy of the Democrat Party. We need more voices like his and former NFL champion, Burgess Ownes, who speak out the truth and tell the Black community what is happening. Maybe then, it will be possible for someone to do something that can actually help them get ahead.

America is supposed to be the land of opportunity. Not the opportunity to sit at home and collect welfare checks, but the opportunity to make something of yourself and your life.

It is clear that Blacks, Hispanics and every other minority can compete on a level playing field, as long as the playing field is truly level and they are given the tools they need to compete with. That doesn’t mean being given an advantage. It means being given the same tools that everyone else has.

There have been way too many Blacks who have been highly successful in this country for anyone to say that a Black man or woman can’t make it here. Democrats and others who use race baiting to keep people angry and depressed are not doing it for the benefit of the Black community.

No, but as Booker T. Washington, one of Americas’ great black leaders said, “There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs – partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”

Some great insight, from a great man and a great educator. It’s time that people take his words seriously and put the grievances on the table, instead of carrying them in their hearts. If there are problems, and there are, let’s work together to find solutions. But blaming and keeping hatred and anger alive will never solve a thing.

It’s time for the Black community to hear the words of Quanell X, as well as the words of Booker T. Washington, and look at what the Democrats have done to them. Then, it’s time for them to find someone who will truly help their people, not just use them.

AAA

 

This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia.

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Could you live on a narrow boat?

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0104

When I think of living on a boat, I think of being on the ocean, or on a lake, but there are other waterways, called canals where people live full and part time, on what are called narrow boats, these are long, narrow boats of 7 feet wide (or less) and up to 72 feet long (though usually shorter). The width and length being determined by the locks that allow these boats to rise or be lowered to different depths in the canal systems.

0103

Looking at these boats, I think I could live on one, though I wonder if I could really pare my belongings down enough to really live in such a small space, especially if I was doing this with my husband. PB could probably do it well enough, he seems to be happy enough with few belongings, me on the other hand, I come from a long line of pack rats, I got the junk gene in spades.

0102Back to our story here, we meet David Johns, a former TV journalist from the UK who quit his job, sold his house, and bought a narrowboat to cruise the canal network, he planned on giving it a year to see how he liked it, apparently it grew on him and he is still doing it. Not only is he doing it, he is documenting it as well. Here is the original video that caught my eye, I’ll include a link to his YouTube page below.

 

https://youtu.be/yMKJR5n4gLw

Here is David Johns’ YouTube page
https://www.youtube.com/c/cruisingthecutuk

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13 year old kid invents free energy device for under $15

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You think of 13 year old kids as playing with their game machines or their iPods, but this kid has invented a real free energy device, he is really harvesting energy from the air, he is modeling his life after Tesla in many ways, I like this kid! It makes me wonder just where he will be when he grows up.

https://youtu.be/yPhRq5r8iqg

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Woodland community receives notice to quit

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Jon from Steward Wood shows us his house

Dartmoor PArk bosses want to demolish this house

Steward Wood in Devon is one of the UK’s largest off-grid communities but after ten years of peaceful existence the 15 residents have been given notice to quit.

In this film, shot at Off-Grid Festival last weekend, Jon from Steward Wood tells us about the battle to stay in their land, and shows us his home and the products which the residents of Steward Wood manufacture and sell.

The people like Jon and Merlin who created the woodland hamlet in Dartmoor National Park near Mortonhampstead endured harsh winters and years of uncertainty as they set out to show that living an entirely eco-life was possible. They have become one of the country’s most respected environmental learning centres and advocates of Permaculture.

The whole off-grid movement needs to unite around Steward Wood and help them in their battle. Apart from the local bearacrats, they are fighting against ridiculous planning laws which fail to distinguish between eco-dwellers enhancing the land and property developers exploiting the land.

They had been living for ten years on a series of short terms permissions from the local government, so “we could not believe it when we were told we had lost” said Jon when we spoke.

Off-Grid.Net will be working with Steward Wood to raise awareness of their situation – amidst the wider context of Off Grid Living as a choice of lifestyle – at the highest levels of media and government.’

“We are in shock and utter disbelief with the Planning Inspector’s decision,” says the official statement on their web site

“ (We) believe that it is the wrong decision for the following reasons (amongst others):
• The DNPA have a policy in place which allows low impact development in the open countryside and we do conform to its requirements.
• Attendees of the Public Inquiry, who we spoke to, were under the impression we were going to be successful having heard the evidence given.
• His decision goes against previous Planning Inspectors’ decisions.
• Not enough weight was given to the importance of the project and its holistic”

Please visit the StewardWood web site at http://stewardwood.org/

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How to Set Up an Emergency Community Clinic!

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How to Set Up an Emergency Community Clinic Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” What would you do if our modern medical system were compromised and local medical facilities were no longer operational? Once again, I will be joined by Survival Instructor, Chuck Hudson, to take an in-depth look at the realities of setting up an … Continue reading How to Set Up an Emergency Community Clinic!

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Hugelkultur

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Screenshot_2016-08-28-01-15-07-01

Hugelkultur, pronounced hugle (like bugle but with a “h”) culture, it’s really simple, combining raised beds with lots of organic material under and on top of the mound. You take wood logs and twigs, preferably older ones but fresher ones can be used, cut them to the length of the bed you want to create, lay them in a pile then put dirt on top of them, you will be planting in this dirt. The idea is the wood logs decompose and hold lots of water, meaning you don’t have to water as often. It’s a win win situation. Some even work swales into the hugelkultur beds to help capture water that would otherwise run off too quickly.

I know it’s the end of the summer gardens for most of us, but this is the perfect time to begin planning and building our gardens for next summer. I still want to make a keyhole garden, I might incorporate some of the hugelkultur into a keyhole garden by using decaying wood logs and twigs that we have an abundance of around here, putting it in the base of the keyhole garden. Also working with the rocks and wood when the temps are cooler will be safer (for me) from snakes, scorpions and other creepy crawlies that sting and bite.

Here are a couple of videos about hugelkultur gardening.

https://youtu.be/Sso4UWObxXg

and

https://youtu.be/Lkx2JFO0Dhw

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Screenshot_2016-08-16-23-44-41-01

Here is another take on a tree NY apartment,  this time in Paris. When architect Julie Nabucet was asked to fit the rooms of a full-sized apartment in a 129-square-foot (12 m2) flat in the center of Paris (Montorgueil quarter), she stacked functions: she elevated the kitchen and rolled a bed-slash-sofa underneath (pulled out halfway, it’s a couch; pulled out fully, it’s a bed). To separate the cooking area from the sleeping/living room she used plywood boxes stacked as a wall. The boxes facing the kitchen are used as cabinets; those facing the bedroom are used as bookshelves.

In the two-square-meter bathroom (21-square-feet), she squeezed an “Italian shower” (wet bath). There wasn’t enough space for a sink so she placed this outside the bathroom. To separate it from the kitchen she created a wooden netting that gives a sense of isolation, but allows light to pass through.

https://youtu.be/vuLJLJZ69zI

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130 square foot apartment

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Screenshot_2016-08-16-23-16-56-01

I like writing about tiny homes and alternative housing,  this is an interesting look at how some people live in South Korea, coming in at 130 square feet,  this is tiny, barely enough room for any furniture, but having everything one would need to live.

I like the bathroom,  being a “wet” bathroom, meaning you take a shower in the middle of the bathroom, no separate shower stall or tub.

The price seems high for what he is getting,  $500 a month,  he explains how rent works there,  the bigger the deposit you can put down (which apparently you get back)  the cheaper your monthly rent is,  he was throwing around numbers in the tens of thousands of dollars, but you can do it with less deposit and pay more rent.

Enjoy this peek into S Korean apartment living.

https://youtu.be/LjTOtO474dI

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Using The Poor For Political Ends

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BF quoteAmerican history is filled with quotes by great leaders… and not so great leaders. Amongst these a truly great one came out in an inaugural address on January 20th, 1961. On that date, John Kennedy, who is still a Democrat icon, said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Fifty-five years later, the Democrats seem to have forgotten that line, while still revering the man who spoke it. They no longer speak of serving their country, and no longer revere those who do. Rather, the Democrat Party stands behind cop killers and those who walk on our flag. They have given away their patriotism, replacing it with partisanship.

Yet the country still has needs and still needs people who will make the sacrifice to meet those needs. Sadly, fewer and fewer Democrats are rising to that challenge, leaving it instead in the hands of Republicans, Libertarians and others who haven’t lost their patriotism.

So, what happened to the Democrat Party? They started preaching entitlement. This happened more than 50 years ago, when Lyndon B. Johnson declared the war on poverty in his 1964 State of the Union Address, just a few short years after Kennedy’s famous statement. In declaring war against poverty and following that up with legislation to give handouts to the poor, Johnson changed the course of his party and this country.

Ever since then, each successive generation of Democrat political candidates has tried to outdo the last, in their promises to give free handouts to the poor. While this seems like a worthy goal to the rank and file Democrats,

But I always wonder about their true motivation, whenever I see the Democrats promising to give more to the poor. Mankind is not naturally altruistic and it’s statistically impossible that there would be that many people, let alone politicians, who would want to help people out.

Of course, when Democrats talk about helping the poor, they aren’t talking about doing it out of their own pockets. Their idea is to tax others, so that they have the money to run those massive entitlement programs. At the same time, they work just as hard as Republicans, to ensure that they don’t pay one more dollar in taxes than they have to. So, their altruism is a phony thing, not something of the heart.

If that’s the case, then why do they work so hard to make themselves look like they truly care about the poor? I see two reasons for this, both of which I believe are backed by world history.

lower incomeFirst of all, appearing to care about the poor gives them a sense of moral superiority.

That’s a big deal to liberals, as shown by the way they talk about those who don’t agree with their ideology.

They demean anyone who is not on-board with their program, as being of lower intelligence and of poor moral character.

But, in reality, liberals give to the poor and needy to cover their own feelings of inadequacy for their own moral failure.

The same reasoning causes them to support minority issues. Liberals have made it quite clear that they think anyone who doesn’t support gay rights is morally bankrupt; when in reality, the whole idea of gay rights is morally bankrupt. They have to give themselves the feeling of superiority, in order to cover up their instinctive realization of their own failure.

But making themselves feel good isn’t the main reason why liberal politicians want to give to the poor. That’s just the mask they show to the public.

The real reason is much more sinister and self-serving. Throughout history, any political party who has spoken about helping the poor has done so to gain their vote, so that ultimately their party could gain power.

This is actually an excellent political strategy. There are always more poor people than there are rich people. So it’s easy to create class envy and even class warfare. That class envy is easily transferred to votes, simply by promising to feed the greed of the poor.

Please note that my definition of greed, like most conservatives, is much different than that of the liberal left. To them, greed is wanting more than you need. That definition is based upon the precept that in taking more than you need, you are taking away from someone else. If that were true, then the nation’s economy couldn’t have grown over the last 200 years. But to us on the left, greed is all about wanting what someone else has. They want our money, so they tax us to get it.

What is All About?

Power it’s really all about. Democrats, like any politicians, want power. They want all the power. They want to consolidate it in their hands, and extend it into every area of people’s lives. They are so convinced of their rightness and righteousness in wanting this power, that they will stoop to any means necessary to get it. Then, once they have the power, they will use it to control people’s lives, while giving benefits to themselves, the elite.

I’m not basing this opinion on any bias against Democrats or any hatred towards any one group; but rather, on history. For the last 100 years or more, every political party which has risen to power by promising to give to the poor, has done so for the express purpose of gaining total political control. Once they achieved that, they parleyed it into control of people’s lives.

Like I said, just look at history; Lenin and Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany, Mao in China, Peron in Argentina, Maduro in Venezuela. The list goes on and on. Each promised to help the poor, vilifying the rich. Yet when each got into power, they didn’t take the wealth of the rich to help the poor, they took it to line their own pockets. The poor got a smattering of benefits, and the true beneficiaries were the revolutionaries, the new crop of politicians and their bureaucrat lackeys.

Interestingly enough, these leaders and their political parties were all liberals. They were all socialist. They all made the same claims and they all followed the same path. What reason does anyone have to even think that our current crop of liberals is any different?

Bernie Sanders, the former presidential candidate openly claims to be a Socialist. He calls it “democratic socialism” but there’s really no difference. Many of the politicians I listed above did the same thing. Hitler was voted into power, on a promise of socialism, just like Bernie Sanders promised.

But there’s no real difference between Bernie Sanders politics and Hillary Clinton‘s. No leader of the Democrat Party has been able to answer the question, when asked the difference between socialism and the Democrat Party. That’s because there is no difference. The Democrats have gone full circle and come back to the bad old ideas of socialism.

As a theory, socialism sounds great. It even sounds better than democracy. But it requires something that the world has always been sadly lacking in… perfect people. The only way that you can make a true socialistic society work, is for everyone to be willing to work for the common good, even if it is to their own detriment.

That goes against human nature, as well as the will to survive. If you aren’t going to receive anything extra for doing extra, why should you? And if you aren’t going to receive any less for doing less, why should you do any more than the absolute minimum?

That’s where socialism fails. While it sounds great to give everyone the same, in reality, not everyone deserves the same. Someone who drops out of high school and ends up flipping burgers really isn’t worth as much as s brain surgeon, no matter how you try to twist reality.

Yet Democrats have preached for so long that the poor deserve more, that they have succeeded in creating massive amounts of envy, class hatred and a desire amongst the poor to destroy those who have more than them. There is nowhere that this can lead, but to class warfare, where the poor try to kill the rich.

Video first seen on LIVE BROADCASTING 2016 DONALD TRUMP SPEECH & RALLY.

We’re just starting to see the beginning of this with movements like Black Lives Matter. While racially motivated, Black Lives Matter is fueled by poverty. Blacks without hope, living in the ghetto, are striking out against “the system” that they feel is oppressing them. So far, their efforts have not been very effective and have in fact hurt themselves more than those they claim to be against. But given time and some organizational help, which the Democrats like George Soros are glad to provide, they could become quite dangerous to society at large.

Those who are participating in Black Lives Matter are nothing more than pawns in the game of politics. They are being used by liberals to cause unrest and violence for their own political purposes. In the long run, they won’t receive what they are after, which will merely fuel their rage even more.

Where will this all lead? If the Democrats have their way, it will lead to them finally crushing their rivals and gaining complete power. It will lead to socialism, which is nothing more than the front door into communism. Ultimately, it will lead to the one-world, totalitarian government.

That’s the end game for them, and they are not reluctant to use the lives of the poor as pawns; after all… there are lots of poor.

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This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia.

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Hard core van living

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In this episode of our Van Life adventure we find a very rare VW mechanic and get to work putting right what “The Mother of All Hills” made wrong. Only the constant battle to keep Co’Pito alive gets to us and we start to go a little Volkswagen Crazy!

If you think that this Season 2 Finale is tough going, wait until you see what the next episode has in store for us…

https://youtu.be/OMpoD_hcvaY

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Woman living full time in an RV…

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Jo has realized that the traveling lifestyle can be had for much less cost than most realize. With even a modest budget and plenty of foresight, just about anyone can live and exciting, adventurous life full of happiness and fulfillment. Join us as Bob catches up with her to discuss her 4×4 truck, slide in camper set-up, minimalism plus much more. What a delightful lady!

The post Woman living full time in an RV… appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Groups Vs. Loan Wolf Survival

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Groups Vs. Loan Wolf Survival Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” What’s your prepping style? Do you long for a small, close-knit prepping community where members are committed to supporting each other during tough times and security threats? Or, are you looking to steer clear of other people, and rely on seclusion and supplies to ride … Continue reading Groups Vs. Loan Wolf Survival

The post Groups Vs. Loan Wolf Survival appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Kids and off grid can work

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Got kids and want to live off grid? Think it’s not possible? Maybe you should check out this family in Canada,  they are doing it very much on the cheap.  One suggestion I would make is to ditch the upright fridge and replace it with a chest freezer to fridge conversion (http://www.off-grid.net/kicked-freezer-fridge-conversion/) it is so incredibly efficient, they could cut down tremendously on their power outlay.

Other than that,  I think they are doing a fantastic job!
https://youtu.be/v8Pe_u_4q5M

 

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Floating tiny home

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This is one of of the most interesting tiny home / floating homes I’ve ever seen! I love the look of this,  I could totally live in this.  I would have to put in some solar,  and I’d probably want it a bit more South, but other than that, it’s great…

https://youtu.be/DE2WdjS6rRY

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Stories To Learn From: WWII Survival On The Home Front

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SVP one nation

Life in Detroit back in the early 40s was idyllic for most—far different than it is today.

America was clawing its way out of the Great Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt calmed fears with his homey fireside chats on the radio. Americans were hardy and most exhibited strong work ethic. They had little money, but families stuck together—helped each other, and helped their neighbors as well.

From Promise to War

Kids didn’t have cell phones, IPads, computers, notebooks, X-boxes, video games, cable TV—they didn’t even have TV back then—radio was their communication medium. They played outside with their friends. And they made up most of their games. Marbles and “hide-and-seek” were popular. They walked or rode bikes to see their friends. And no-one locked their house doors. All the kids could play outside until the street lights came on. Then they had to return home.

Parents sat on porches, visited with passing neighbors, and watched children play in the neighborhood. Everyone felt safe and secure. If a child disobeyed, any parent in the neighborhood could discipline the child—including spanking. Then when the child got home, they were given another spanking by their own parents.

They didn’t sue each other at the drop of a hat. They learned discipline and respect for adults and the law. And they learned how to survive as a group.

The year 1940 was a good year for America—full of promise. The country was getting back to work, and the Great Depression was fading into history. The window to the world was the radio and families crowded around the big box in the front room every night to listen to their favorite programs—Jack Benny, The Lone Ranger, Fibber McGee and Mollie, and The Shadow.

Every Sunday afternoon, a radio announcer would read the comic section of the local paper—people called them “the funnies.”—imitating the voices of the characters as the children laid on the floor and read along. And most families were poor but content.

Then came Pearl Harbor and suddenly our country was thrust into a long, bitter, and violent war. My older brother remembers when the president announced to the world that America had been attacked and uttered his famous statement: “December 7th, 1941, a day that shall live in infamy …” My brother doesn’t remember what was said, but at one year old, he felt the anger and fear that filled our home.

Video first seen on War Archives.

Soon over a million young Americans were putting on uniforms and going off to fight the Germans in Europe and the Japanese in the South Pacific. Eventually almost 14 million would serve. Our dad joined the fight and spent almost two years in action in the Pacific—particularly Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

We were no longer Catholic or Protestant, Jew or atheist. We were no longer Republican, or Democrat, and our skin color or where we grew up didn’t matter. We were all Americans. We were all in this together, and we intended to win. We were at war.

As American involvement increased, the government soon realized we were rapidly expending vital resources sending men, machines, supplies, and food overseas. Washington knew our resources were limited—although manufacturing immediately ramped up, and 3.5 million women went to work—so an Office of Price Administration was established with directions to ration vital resources. Production of new cars was halted during the War so plants could manufacture planes, guns, tanks, and ships.

food stamps

When President Roosevelt announced to the country that America would begin rationing, my mother knew instinctively what to do. As a Canadian who grew up on a Mennonite farm where the family grew its own food and scrimped and saved, it wasn’t difficult to repeat this lifestyle.  Her family in Detroit joined other Americans—mostly immigrants like her—and cut back on the use of meat, fuel, sugar, coffee, shoes, rubber, and other consumer goods so the troops “would have enough.”

The federal government established War Price and Rationing boards in every community to verify and certify households and issue ration books to buy certain commodities. All heads of households were required to register for ration books containing ration stamps. Each stamp had a simple drawing of a plane, ship, gun, tank, wheat stalk, fruit, or alphanumeric lettering, and a serial number.

The stamps were printed in color—red for meat and butter, blue for processed foods, and gray for general commodities. People could purchase rationed products by using ration stamps or compressed wood fiber token representations of ration points and cash. Tokens were used as change for ration stamps because metal was in such short supply.

Sugar was rationed first—one half pound per person per week—half what people normally consumed. One #30 stamp from book 4 plus cash would get you 5 pounds of sugar. Then chocolate was rationed. Chocolate was being used to make chocolate candy bars for the military. Even coffee was rationed—one pound every 5 weeks.

The national speed limit was reduced to 35 mph to minimize tire wear. The Japanese had taken over all the rubber plantations in Indonesia so rubber was very difficult to obtain. Nylon was needed for parachutes and gun powder bags so sale to civilians was quickly banned. Even after the war in 1945, women’s nylons were not available until late 1947.

Gasoline was carefully rationed based on five levels of need.

  • A letter sticker on the windshield identified the level of need. “A” stickers had the lowest priority. The car owner could purchase up to 4 gallons a week. Gas cost 12¢ a gallon back then.
  • “B” stickers were for people working in the defense industry. They could buy up to 8 gallons a week.
  • “C” was reserved for doctors, who were deemed essential to the war effort.
  • “T” stickers were on trucks. They could buy all the gas they needed.
  • An “X” sticker gave the holder unlimited access to gas. This sticker was for defense workers, fire fighters, police officers, and ministers. A scandal erupted when about 200 members of Congress were found to be illegally using X ration stamps. Some felt they were above the law.

To help fund the War, children purchased 10¢ victory stamps and pasted them in Victory Book albums that were exchanged for $25 War Savings Bonds when all the stamp spaces were filled. Schools and veteran groups conducted scrap paper drives to extend our supply of paper packing material, and others collected scrap metal for recycling.

Even bacon grease was saved and donated to butchers who collected it and provided it to rendering companies that processed it into glycerine, a substance used for explosives. Some families also used the fat in bacon grease to make soap. My mother did this and used this soap to clean the floors. Because meat, oil, and butter were rationed, she re-used the fat for frying as much as possible before pouring it into a can and turning it into our butcher.

The Lessons We Learned

We became accustomed to shortages and soon more vital commodities were rationed. Adults were allowed 2-1/2 pounds of red meat each week (if it was available). Hamburger cost about 43¢ a pound plus 8 points in ration stamps. Pork chops cost 37¢ a pound plus 7 points in stamps.

Americans found ways to cope. And we found creative ways to make meals. Very few people complained. We considered shortage an inconvenience but not devastating. We shared, we re-purposed old clothes, we handed clothes down to younger kids, we made clothing out of feedbags, we used rags to make warm quilts, and we put cardboard in our shoes to make them last longer. We made do with what we had or made what we needed. This included much of our food.

As the War dragged on, access to even more goods became restricted. In 1943 the government began rationing canned goods. Each person was allocated 48 points of ration stamps per month to buy canned, dried, and frozen food. And people were encouraged to plant gardens in every back yard. President Roosevelt urged all Americans to start “victory gardens” to grow enough fruits and vegetables to help sustain a family through the winter. Posters hung on walls and buildings saying “Plant a Victory Garden – A Garden Will Make Your Rations Go Further.”

A Victory Garden Institute handbook was created with a patriotic red, white, and blue cover. It told people how to start and maintain a home garden. Over 20 million Americans planted gardens in backyards, empty lots, in flower beds, and on rooftops. My mother fell back on her Mennonite upbringing and began to improve soil, compost, and journal her gardening successes and failures.

Today my mother’s journal is a treasure trove of good sage advice for optimum planting, harvesting, and bug control. People talked with their neighbors and like my own parents, millions of Americans grew gardens to produce as much food as they could. If they could produce over five percent of their own food, they felt good. If they could grow over 20% of their own food, they became ecstatic. They shared garden harvests and they taught others how to replicate their success.

Victory-gardenBy 1944, about 40% of food for America came from Victory Gardens. This program was a huge success—many emigrants were doing this before the government acted and established policies.

Many of them were drying and canning foods from the time they arrived in this country. So when Roosevelt urged all Americans to preserve foods, many thought, “Yes, we already are.”

Then they expanded their food preservation operations.

Home canning became a major food processing industry, and canning was occurring almost every day. By the end of the War, my mother was canning about 200 jars of food each summer. The family constructed a pantry to hold food stuffs, and we never went hungry. By agreeing to produce four quarts of canned fruit per pound of sugar used, she and other like households could receive extra sugar allotments. We ate well.

Americans are highly adaptable, and we survived rationing and victory gardens quite well. Today the victory garden concept is growing popular once more as people realize that the healthiest foods available are those grown at home.

Just like our grandparents who found ways to survive the Great Depression, adults living when WWII ended carried with them valuable lessons for the future. They hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst.

They identified with their local community, and they learned who had the skills they may need. One skilled person welded and repaired most of the vehicles, wagons, and toys in our neighborhood. My mother conducted canning classes where she taught other women how to safely preserve garden produce and fruits. Before being drafted and shipped out, my father taught how to repair vehicles to get the most miles out of each gallon of gas.

Kids entertained themselves building forts and reading comic books playing together in groups of friends. No one was barred from joining the fun.  In the evening, neighbors gathered to play cards and board games. Everyone knew everyone else and all felt safe and secure in their close neighborhoods.

As Americans we respected faith, family, and community. We didn’t flaunt our religion. We respected all religions. And we accepted a duty to help others while living within our own means. We learned and taught new skills and we worked together to develop capabilities that would benefit all.

We never knowingly left any family without food, water, or shelter. But we expected each person to do everything they could for the benefit of all—to help carry their own load. And we corrected our own problems. There were those who abused the system, but because they lacked character and integrity, we moved beyond them and they were soon left behind. For us, we never felt alone. And we survived as a community.

the lost ways cover

This article has been written by Robert Brenner for Survivopedia.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden

http://www.genealogytoday.com/guide/war-ration-books.html 

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Can you still get free land in the USA?

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Much of the expense of living off-grid is the property, that is the thing that usually stops people from being able to live their dreams.

At one time in the USA you could homestead land and get it free,  all you had to do was live on it and improve it,  but that has stopped a long time ago, well within my lifetime.

I’ve recently learned that there are states and towns that offer free land in exchange for living on it, improving it, or bringing jobs to the town. Of course it might not be exactly where you want to live, but beggars can’t be choosers righ?

So watch this video and let me know if this is something that you would be interested in doing. Enjoy.

https://youtu.be/_hK04LgK3Hw

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New TV series off-grid in Scotland

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The series due to launch tonight on BBC Channel 4, will chronicle the successes and failures of a new social experiment in Ardnamurchan, near Lochaber, in Scotland’s wild western Highlands.
Using only natural resources to build shelter, hunt for food and cook.

Making up the rules of their new society as they go along, the 23 contestants in the rather unoriginally named “Eden” will spend a year getting to grips with the remote countryside and learning to live with each other. The series shows that the appetite for life in the wilderness — both experiencing it and watching it — remains strong, and really gets to grips with the idyllic notion of self-sufficiency.

the series bills itself as an antidote to the usual trivia you see in reality shows, but the early signs are not good – the press releases stress that the inmates got drunk and flirted with each other. And the idea that they would be cut off from their nearest neighbors makes it more of an unreality show.

In reality, trying to forge a community from scratch can be a lifetime’s work. There are, however, a number of alternative settlements in Scotland in place that eschew conventional ways of life in favour of an existence focused on the land, spirituality, or making a living from traditional crafts and techniques.
Experts say that many of these communities are finding favour with burnt-out city-dwellers looking for a break, a new business opportunity or a complete change of scene.
We look at some of Scotland’s most interesting rural villages and settlements where it is possible to buy — or acquire membership — into a different way of life.Findhorn Ecovillage, MorayConceived in the 1970s by the Findhorn Foundation, a community began to evolve on the north coast of Scotland. It includes an on-site theatre and concert hall. Governed by members of businesses within the eco-village, such as a publishing house and an arts centre, the settlement can be found to the south of Findhorn, on the Moray Firth.
Andrew YeatsEDENTV, a partner at Eco Arc, has seen the settlement flourish. “When I was an architecture student it was my thesis to design the concept of a sustainable eco-village,” he says. “Initially I went to Findhorn for six months, and ended up staying for six years. I’ve been working on the eco-village ever since.
“Originally, the community group bought a 35-acre caravan park and sought planning permission to change the use of the site to house permanent dwellings. The idea was to build a village that translated their ecological aspirations of being lighter on the Earth.
“The eco-village now has some of the most environmentally efficient buildings in Europe, with electricity produced from wind turbines and the ability to treat sewage. Residents grow a lot of their own food on site. They co-run a Rudolf Steiner school and a number of independent shops and businesses. It started with around 200 people but now there are more like 5,000 in The Park and in peripheral villages.”
The key to Findhorn Ecovillage’s success, says Yeats, is its appeal to those who have tired of the rat race: “A lot of people experience urban isolation or discontent with a city lifestyle. Being part of the community and living in a supportive environment is very attractive to many.”
While Eco Arc is responsible for 18 residential houses, there are about 100 in the development. They bear many shared qualities: individualistic design, brightly coloured cladding and timber frames more reminiscent of Scandinavia than the Scottish seaside.
“If you were to characterise the residential properties, they all have super-insulation and triple-glazed windows,” Yeats explains.
The village has also kept abreast with modern advancements. Eco Arc is to begin work on the first on-site Passivhaus this week, a strictly low-carbon-footprint template of housing inspired by German design credentials. It is to be the most northerly property built to Passivhaus standards in the UK.
“The clients are a woman and her daughter from London who have sold a small flat and wanted to build an eco-house to live in,” Yeats says.
Established properties in Findhorn Ecovillage come to market relatively infrequently (Cluny Estate Agents has recently accepted an offer on a four-bedroom bright orange house that was on the market for offers in excess of £400,000), but the preference within the settlement is for build your own. Even after employing the skills of specialist architects, prices are keen: Eco Arc has worked on projects beginning at £15,000 for a small roundhouse (now rented out through Airbnb from £40 a night), to a four-bedroom property costing £220,000.Brodgar and Skaill, Orkney An archipelago of 70 islands, Orkney is one of the UK’s earliest neolothic sites and has a number of ceremonial stone circles, tombs and settlements. Unsurprisingly, each year it attracts scores of visitors keen to discover more about its history. A number of sites have also been excavated in recent years, including the Ness of Brodgar in 2002, where annual digs have led experts to conclude that the islands were a hub for trade and worship in neolithic times.
Orkney is now home to a strong spiritual community living and working on its islands. Many are centred on the Mainland, the archipelago’s largest island, working in the craft and tourism industries around Brodgar, near the stone circle and the Unesco World Heritage Site, and Skaill, where the Skara Brae neolithic village was discovered in the 1920s. Many offer tours of Orkney’s most famous sites and stones, which can also be used as locations for weddings and blessings conducted by humanists.
The smaller islands are home to a number of significant sites. ASG Commercial is marketing a business package for offers of more than £950,000 on a clifftop site in Cleat, South Ronaldsay. It includes the Skerries Bistro, three holiday lets and a stone-built three-bedroom property. The star of the sale is the Tomb of the Otters, a recently discovered Stone Age chamber excavated in 2010 next to the bistro. In season, visitors can pay to visit the tomb, providing a steady flow of clients to the bistro.
In Harray, on the Mainland, there is a chance to continue Orkney’s historic ceramics industry, which dates from neolithic times. A pottery studio and shop is being marketed through Lows Solicitors for offers of more than £250,000. It includes the three-bedroom Fursbreck House, which has an office, dining room, kitchen and bathroom.
For house-hunters looking to enjoy the islands’ small communities, rather than to capitalise on their historic industries, Savills is selling a seven-bedroom property in the town of St Margaret’s Hope. Roeberry House features a snug, games room, library, two secluded gardens and a 150-year-old wood. Its price is available on application and it is close to the A listed Italian Chapel, built by Italian prisoners of war in the Second World War.Isle of Erraid, Inner HebridesAn experience quite unlike any other, the tiny Isle of Erraid, west of Mull, is home to a transient group of “caretakers” who are responsible for looking after its buildings and gardens for 11 months of the year. The island’s owners, a Dutch family, struck a deal with the Findhorn Foundation in 1977, and in exchange for being able to return for one month in the summer to enjoy Erraid, a small community of self-sufficient residents are permitted to live in cottages for lighthouse-keepers built by the Stevenson engineering dynasty at the start of the 20th century.
Residents adhere to traditional ways of living off the land, with a focus on growing fruit and vegetables, crop tending and herding Erraid’s native flock of Blackface sheep. Members subscribe to the principles of the Findhorn Foundation and promote mindfulness and connecting to the natural world.
There are about ten people on the island at any given time, with many moving on after about three years. Annual activities focus on a number of festivals where guests are welcomed to sample island life. While it is not possible to buy property on Erraid, membership to this uniquely Scottish existence is permanently open to new residents.

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UK Off-Grid Festival

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Horse drawn life off the grid

Free rides for kids at last year’s festival

August 11th – 14th Britain’s emerging community will open the doors of perception and glimpse Another World.
The annual Off Grid Festival in Exeter, Devon is a deep exploration of community living, creativity and consciousness; an intimate environment in which to share skills, trade knowledge, impart wisdom and make a difference. Four days out of the world to get into changing our world.

Think of it as an experimental innovation lab for a new paradigm of economic, ecological and community thought, a radical gathering of empowered people making a difference in their lives and celebrating emergent culture.

Over the years the festival has educated and informed thousands of people about the skills and knowledge required for the off-grid lifestyle. There is an Off Grid College – a 12 module programme in practical, sustainable living; the Conference Programme – 3 days of mini-conferences on topical themes; Practical Demonstrations of Eco-Build, Alt. Tech, Wildcraft and traditional Crafts and Skills; The Serenity Field – Where we explore the inner dimension of off grid living and the systemic tools that help us co-exist as a society.

AUGUST 11-14
www.offgrid-festival.co.uk

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Tiny home tour

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Julie Olson needed a traveling home for her mobile dog training business. With no architecture training, she drew up plans for exactly what she needed and sent them to Jason Dietz of Molecule Tiny Homes. Over a couple of months he built her home to her specifications: a fold-out porch, storage stairs, 2 lofts (1 for sleeping, 1 for storage or 2 sleeping quarters), a slim closet, and a bathroom with tub, composting toilet, tiny sink and escape window/door for viewing nature.
https://youtu.be/PZ7JINuGT2Y

The 136-square-foot home can run completely off grid with rooftop photovoltaic panels, solar batteries, a propane tank and a tankless water heater. Total cost was $45,000, but Dietz says you could bring that down by about half if you built it yourself. Part of the reason small homes on wheels cost more per square foot is because they require structural support to survive on the road. The home was built in Santa Cruz, California and it made its first trip over 3,000 miles to Maine where Olson moved in with her cats and dog to travel and study.

Molecule Tiny Homes: moleculetinyhomes.blogspot.com

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Handy hacks

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Modern technology is an amazing thing,  once open a time,  if you wanted to read about something,  to learn about something,  you had to go to the library,  when they were open and do your research from there.  Or you could go to the book store,  if either place for didn’t have what you needed,  they might be able to order it,  perhaps within a week or two you could get what you wanted…

Of course today is different,  with the internet,  computers,  tablets and smart phones,  knowledge is just a tap or click away,  any time,  day or night. And now with the ability for everyone to create and upload videos,  you have even more tutorials available at your fingertips.  You still need to be discerning, not everyone who claims to be an expert is truly an expert,  you will find lots of garbage,  misinformation and outright lies,  but if you are careful,  come at this with some common sense,  you can find a world wide library at your disposal.

Here are a few interesting and handy YouTube videos about handy hacks:
https://youtu.be/JdYksVGKBZ0

https://youtu.be/ZK8874icTbk

https://youtu.be/lc7-0ZxXgJw

Who is your favorite YouTube life hacker? Comment below and let me know.

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What are we going to do?

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We live off grid, on a mountain side in the high desert of far west Texas, since December 2007, we have embedded ourselves quite deeply in our little community, one of the issues out here is getting rid of refuse, we have turned that to our advantage, the community out here knows, if they have any potentially useful junk, they contact us first to see if we want it. The alternative is to take it to town, some 20 miles away and pay to dispose of it. As a result, we end up with lots of useful materials, it’s not like driving to the hardware store and getting first quality, new stuff, but we end up with things we can eventually use.

One of the local builders out here (who is also a good friend) was tasked with getting rid of a bunch, a huge bunch of papercrete blocks on another property out here. These are made of pureed paper and Portland cement, there is also some other material in the bricks, I recognize perlite and possibly Styrofoam pellets.

Whoever made these, made a bunch of them for some purpose and for whatever reason, never got to use them. So now we benefit from this windfall.

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PB took possession of them without knowing what he might use them for, perhaps making a short (height) wall… I took one look at the stack and had only one idea, a Keyhole garden!

I had been wanting to make at least one Keyhole garden ever since I’d learned about them, our biggest resource out here for making such a thing is rocks, I just hadn’t had the time or will to collect that many rocks and make one, but now we have an abundance of these papercrete blocks and can make several Keyhole gardens, I even have PB excited about it.

I have lots of cardboard to use as a base layer, the benefits of being a merchandiser and more recently being a reviewer. If anyone is interested in learning more about becoming a reviewer, let me know in the comments below and I’ll do a write up about it.

PB and I are already talking about what to play the in the Keyhole garden, I want one just for salad type greens, lettuces of all sorts. Of course we will have to protect it from the critters, they constantly eat our food and decorative plants, but it’s part of living out here.

I’ll post updates as this happens.

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Misconceptions about off grid living

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Yesterday, while surfing Facebook, one of my friends liked and shared a photo link,  I’ll not say what the page was,  I don’t want to embarrass anyone,  but the gist of the graphic was:

Off grid,  no mortgage or rent,  no electric bill, free water, grow your own food, total self sustainability, be with nature, and still have every modern luxury. 

Hmmmm,  sounds really good,  appealing in every way,  there is one teensy little problem,  it’s not free.  Living off grid does not alleviate you of bills or responsibility,  it in fact gives you even more to be responsible for.

I wrote a reply to each bullet point made above,  I’m not knocking living off grid,  we have lived this way for near 10 years now and love it,  I just get annoyed when major misconceptions are bandied about.

Welllllll, you still have to buy a property where you are allowed to live off grid, find a cheap one and you can pay for it up front or you will have a mortgage (or loan payments),  you could squat illegally,  but that will only last as long as you aren’t caught. Or you could ask a property owner if you can stay on their land,  good luck.

NO electric bill is right, but there are expenses involved, those photons don’t collect or store themselves, there is also ongoing maintenance.

Free water, maybe, you either have to drill a well, that is expensive, there is equipment involved, storage, pumps, or you can collect rain water, again there are up front expenses…

Yes, you can grow your own food, again it’s not free, there are expenses involved in that.

Self sustaining, hardly, you can be more self sufficient but it’s impossible to be fully, 100% self sufficient.

Yes, you can be with nature,  that’s probably the truest statement in the list.

Yes, you can do all of this and have every modern convenience, but it’s NOT FREE! Anyone who tells you that is either lying or naive. Living off grid is attainable, I do it, but it’s no cake walk, I love my life but would never tell anyone lies about it…

I’m not trying to bum anyone out,  but reality is real, you don’t get something for nothing,  you have to work for what you want,  if living off grid is the thing you want to do,  then go for it,  make a plan,  set goals,  work and save your money, learn as much as you can about living off grid,  get some hands on skills in building,  electricity,  survival, medical, small engine repair…  You get the picture now,  so what are you waiting for? 🙂

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Why does Texas have its own power grid?

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I know this article has been around a while, but it does a good job explaining the Texas electric grid, I’m not directly hooked up to the grid, but still rely on it for day to day life, my internet, the local businesses I frequent, my job just to name a few.
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Texplainer: Why Does Texas Have Its Own Power Grid?
by Kate Galbraith, The Texas Tribune
February 8, 2011

Hey, Texplainer: Why does Texas have its own electric grid?

Texas’ secessionist inclinations do have one modern outlet: the electric grid. There are three grids in the Lower 48 states: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection — and Texas.

The Texas grid is called ERCOT, and it is run by an agency of the same name — the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. ERCOT does not actually cover all of Texas. El Paso is on another grid, as is the upper Panhandle and a chunk of East Texas. This presumably has to do with the history of various utilities’ service territories and the remoteness of the non-ERCOT locations (for example the Panhandle is closer to Kansas than to Dallas, notes Kenneth Starcher of the Alternative Energy Institute in Canyon), but Texplainer is still figuring out the particulars on this.

The separation of the Texas grid from the rest of the country has its origins in the evolution of electric utilities early last century. In the decades after Thomas Edison turned on the country’s first power plant in Manhattan in 1882, small generating plants sprouted across Texas, bringing electric light to cities. Later, particularly during the first world war, utilities began to link themselves together. These ties, and the accompanying transmission network, grew further during the second world war, when several Texas utilities joined together to form the Texas Interconnected System, which allowed them to link to the big dams along Texas rivers and also send extra electricity to support the ramped-up factories aiding the war effort.

The Texas Interconnected System — which for a long time was actually operated by two discrete entities, one for northern Texas and one for southern Texas — had another priority: staying out of the reach of federal regulators. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Power Act, which charged the Federal Power Commission with overseeing interstate electricity sales. By not crossing state lines, Texas utilities avoided being subjected to federal rules. “Freedom from federal regulation was a cherished goal — more so because Texas had no regulation until the 1970s,” writes Richard D. Cudahy in a 1995 article, “The Second Battle of the Alamo: The Midnight Connection.” (Self-reliance was also made easier in Texas, especially in the early days, because the state has substantial coal, natural gas and oil resources of its own to fuel power plants.)

ERCOT was formed in 1970, in the wake of a major blackout in the Northeast in November 1965, and it was tasked with managing grid reliability in accordance with national standards. The agency assumed additional responsibilities following electric deregulation in Texas a decade ago. The ERCOT grid remains beyond the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which succeeded the Federal Power Commission and regulates interstate electric transmission.

Historically, the Texas grid’s independence has been violated a few times. Once was during World War II, when special provisions were made to link Texas to other grids, according to Cudahy. Another episode occurred in 1976 after a Texas utility, for reasons relating to its own regulatory needs, deliberately flipped a switch and sent power to Oklahoma for a few hours. This event, known as the “Midnight Connection,” set off a major legal battle that could have brought Texas under the jurisdiction of federal regulators, but it was ultimately resolved in favor of continued Texan independence.

Even today, ERCOT is also not completely isolated from other grids — as was evident last week when the state imported some power from Mexico during the rolling blackouts. ERCOT has three ties to Mexico and — as an outcome of the “Midnight Connection” battle — it also has two ties to the eastern U.S. grid, though they do not trigger federal regulation for ERCOT. All can move power commercially as well as be used in emergencies, according to ERCOT spokeswoman Dottie Roark. A possible sixth interconnection project, in Rusk County, is being studied, and another ambitious proposal, called Tres Amigas, would link the three big U.S. grids together in New Mexico, though Texas’ top utility regulator has shown little enthusiasm for participating.

Bottom line: Texas has its own grid to avoid dealing with the feds.

Got a question for Texplainer? E-mail us at texplainer@texastribune.org.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2011/02/08/texplainer-why-does-texas-have-its-own-power-grid/.
Texplainer: Why Does Texas Have Its Own Power Grid?
by Kate Galbraith, The Texas Tribune
February 8, 2011

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Off grid 4th of July

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This year,  we had the best 4th of July celebration,  the SkyCastle has become quite the destination spot for our friends,  so PB (Primitive Bob) created a party spot down by the road.  A few years back when my son came out for a visit,  he and PB built what was supposed to be a garage…  Well you know what garages are for,  not for vehicles,  they become a place to store junk…

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Over the last few months,  PB has transformed the garage/junk room into a clubhouse.  He installed a small solar system,  a few solar panels,  charge controller, an older (but still good) deep cycle battery, and an inverter.  With this,  PB was able to string some white LED Christmas lights and a radio for music. Add in some chairs and we have ourselves a fun spot for our friends to drop by and hang out.

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As with everything else in our lives,  this is a work in progress,  I’d like to have a small cooler to keep drinks cold in the summer,  maybe even a way to have ice and a bit of running water.

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PB did take our propane grill down,  we had hotdogs and sausages. It was quite the fun day. We chose not to go into town,  it was much better to stay home :),  I certainly hope you had a great holiday.

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Images courtesy of my friend Laurie.

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