*Off* Off-Grid

I’m a hopeless researcher…

Image courtesy of Botanical Research Institute of Texas

Internet searches lead to ever-more clicks and open tabs.  Visits to the library end with arm-loads of books ranging in topics from interior decorating, to ancient texts, to gardening, to art journaling…  It doesn’t matter where I start, chances are my search will lead me in wild and unrelated directions.  Boy, we won’t even go into what happens when I walk through the doors of a bookstore.  I think I need a 12-step program for books!

I wish I could say how on earth I came upon the book Surviving Off Off-Grid, by Michael Bunker. I vaguely remember hearing or seeing his name in the past few weeks – either on a podcast, or maybe a blog – not sure exactly.  But I do know that his book has been on my Wish List on Amazon for at least a month or two.  So I ordered the book, and now find myself utterly engrossed.  Oh – and that’s not a typo – there really are two “offs.”  You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

Michael considers himself a “Biblical Agrarian.”  Hmmm…  According to Wikipedia, Agrarianism “…refers to a social or political philosophy which values rural society as superior to urban society, the independent farmer as superior to the paid worker, and sees farming as a way of life that can shape the ideal social values. It stresses the superiority of a simpler rural life as opposed to the complexity of city life, with its banks and factories.”  (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agrarianism).

Umm.  I can definitely dig that!  🙂

You’ve probably seen me kid about being called Amish-Robin by my friends, with pictures of women in bonnets, and horse drawn buggies. Kidding, perhaps, to some – but a goal, in fact, for me.  Well – maybe not so much the bonnet:

Amish Robin in her Southern Bonnet

But definitely the ideal of living a simpler life sans much of the technological noise that pollutes everyday life.

I’m just beginning chapter four in the book (it just came in the mail a couple days ago), but already I find his writings putting into words what only my mind could express silently.

What once I could only call “off grid” has suddenly taken on a new expression:  *Off*Off-Grid.  Meaning not just simply the conversion of our typical everyday lives and conveniences to solar or wind power, but the idea of taking a serious look at all these so-called “conveniences” and deciding if they really do contribute to the desired end result, and if they really are making life easier.  Well, maybe not easier, but simper… there is a difference.  “Easier” is all a matter of marketing.  Many of these so-called time saving devices are expensive (meaning we have to work long hours to pay for them), require maintenance (again, requiring money by way of working, and the time and frustration to keep them functioning), often break because they’re cheaply made in China (there are many downsides to that one!), and more often than not, take longer to pull out of the cupboard (or cabinet, or garage, or wherever!), plug in, use, clean up and put away than if we just used the old-fashioned way of doing it from the get-go.  Not to mention that many of them (read: ALL!) use electricity – requiring an ever-increasing monthly bill that we have to work to pay for – all in the guise of convenience.

I’ve written about my disdain of electricity in the past.  Yet, here I sit on a computer, clacking away. But Michael Bunker talks about, in the beginning of the book, how technology is subjective.  It’s not a matter of eschewing every circuit board and plug-in – but choosing wisely those technologies that contribute something truly beneficial to your life.  Some may claim that televisions or microwaves or air conditioning are truly beneficial – but I’m going to agree with the author that they’re only a necessity to those who are not strong enough to do without them.  With the rare occasion of a DVD once every month or two, I don’t watch television.  I think it’s the devil’s work (kidding – but only sort of…).  I haven’t owned a microwave in about 12 years – happily.  And air conditioning – eh.  I don’t have it at home, and I do perfectly well without it.  We have it at the office, and more often than not I have my vent covered with a giant book on sport fishing to keep that fake cold air off of me.  I like being cold outside in the winter – not inside in the summer.  But those are just minor examples.

By clicking on “technology” in the sidebar under “what I’m writing about,” you’ll find some of my past diatribes on living without modern conveniences.  Much of what I could say here would simply be a repeat of those earlier writings.  The gist of it is:  I can certainly do without a lot of it.  Not all of it, however.  I certainly wouldn’t want to get rid of my rototiller if I didn’t have to.  I live in the Rocky Mountains – stress on the “Rocky.”  That little tiller is worth its weight in gold to me come spring and fall.   And I do enjoy my little black box of clickity-click (aka: my laptop) – it helps me learn, keep in touch with family and friends, and occasionally empty my brain via blog post.

But back to the point: the book and the author.  If you’ve ever thought about ditching more than just the grid, but ditching the chaos of this crazy modern lifestyle for a truly more simple existence, I really do recommend this book.  For those who just can’t drop the Kindle or the Nook yet, it’s even available in e-book format (how’s that for a contradiction?!)  I almost wish it was quitting time at the grind, just so I could head home, pull up my chair under the apple tree, and continue reading more.  A word of “warning” (although, I’m not sure warning is really the right word)…  Michael Bunker is definitely a devout Christian man, and often backs up his philosophy with Biblical verses and notations.  Personally, I’m perfectly fine with this.  Some might not be.  But just so you know it’s there before you buy.  Oh, and he also has a podcast on Blog Talk Radio.  It’s pretty much a question and answer type show and he covers everything from living off off-grid to bible study, and darn near everything in between.  It’s really an interesting program. I just found out about it when I got the book.  I’ve been downloading the episodes on iTunes (ummm, maybe another one of those necessary evils???)

I can’t tell you how delighted I was to find a book that expressed what I was after:  not so much a complete and total avoidance or shunning of all technology, but a judgement-based use of technology.  Not simply accepting all technology just because it’s technology – racing out to the store for the latest iThis or SmartThat – but really considering what it is that you decide to use in your everyday life.  And in the decision to leave the grid, not just transferring your current consumptive lifestyle to a solar panel, but taking a look at all those gadgets and appliances, and asking: “Do I really need all of this stuff???”  A true acceptance of the spirit of Voluntary Simplicity.

And of course, there’s that Agrarian part. 🙂  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my garden???

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Categories: Skills & Info, Technology | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “*Off* Off-Grid

  1. Just ordered the book in paperback for my husband and ordered it on my Kindle for me so we can both read it at the same time! And, yes, that is a contradiction for getting off the grid, but when you have very limited storage space the Kindle has been great! But when the electricity fails and I lose my Kindle, I do have the “classics” in paperback that I can always refer to (“Vertical Gardening”, “Seed Storage”, and The Bible!). Ha-ha!

    • Excellent, Linda! I’m sure the author will appreciate it. I’m half way through, and I wish I had more time to read. It’s really fantastic!

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