Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Going Off Grid - Montana Style!

The concept of off-grid living is often encumbered by numerous false assumptions and associations. Many think that to delve into the lifestyle you must be either a grizzled anti-social mountain man, a pompous starry-eyed hippie, or, a criminal on the lam. The spectrum of characterizations range from “kooky” bunker building militia members to spoiled Al Gore worshipping vegan hipsters out to prove they are better than everyone else by reducing their “carbon footprint”. The point is, for the average television-fed American, the idea of off-grid life automatically conjures visions of the extreme.

I believe this reaction is due in large part to our society’s obsession with feeling “connected”. Ever challenge a friend or family member to go without touching their cell phone for a day? Ever ask them to shut off their TV and see if they can find other ways to occupy themselves? Ever ask them to leave modern conveniences behind, if only for a weekend, to take part in some simple camping? I can say that in my own experience, nine out of ten people will stare at you pale faced like you just kicked them square in the loins. For them, leaving behind the buzz of our make-believe culture is the same as stepping outside of time, or abandoning one’s very identity. The whole suggestion is alien.

Luckily, here in Montana, I’ve encountered far hardier souls than in most other places, and the pursuit of an existence disconnected from dependence on the system is not treated as quite so outlandish. In fact, many here have taken the leap into self-sufficiency and gone 100% off-grid. I was lucky enough to meet one of these pioneers recently, and take a tour of his farm, but what interested me most about him were his origins, which were rooted about as far away from his current environment as you can get…


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