Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America

Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America

by Nick Rosen


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The grid is everywhere, sending power to the light switch on the wall and water to the faucet in the kitchen. But is it essential? Must one depend on it and the giant corporate and government infrastructure behind it? With energy prices soaring, the housing market in shambles, the financial institutions collapsing, and unemployment looming, more and more Americans are choosing to free themselves from dependence on the grid.

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Nick Rosen traveled across the United States meeting some of these people. They are millionaires and foreclosure victims, paranoid survivalists and saintly environmentalists, retirees and marijuana growers, and plenty of ordinary families-all chasing their off-grid dreams. As varied as this collection of characters is, they all share the belief that the grid-and everything it represents-has let them down, that they're better off taking care of themselves. As Rosen reveals, it takes tremendous dedication and determination to live off the grid, but for them, it's worth it. This is essential reading for anyone who's ever thought about going off the grid.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143117384
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/27/2010
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 880,017
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Nick Rosen is a rising authority on living off the grid and has written extensively on the subject for the Times (London), the Guardian, and Reuters. He is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker. He edits the website in the back of his RV, using a laptop plugged into the cigar lighter (and a wireless modem plugged into the laptop). His hobbies include cooking, diving, and trespassing, and he has a part-time off-grid home on the island of Majorca.

Table of Contents

1 Another Way 1

Joining the Freedom Movement 8

2 How the Grid Was Won 17

Dawn of the Grid 22

Down-home Electric Co-ops 33

The Edison Electric Institute 36

Central Water and Conflict 39

3 My Other Place Is on the Grid 47

For the Man who Has Everything 52

No Name Key 55

No Math Island 75

4 Stepping Away 83

Writer in the Woods 85

The Polite Anarchists 93

Virtual Springfield 96

A Walden Wedding 100

5 Reinventing the American Dream 103

The Wild, Wild West 104

A Sad Tale 111

Anti-nuclear Family 116

Ranch Styles of the Rich and Famous 122

6 Coping with the Crash 127

A Better Life 127

Genius or Charlatan? 138

This Way Madness Lies 149

7 Running from the Rat Race 155

The Mountain Hermit 164

8 Post-consumer Society 171

The Gift Economy 173

Local Currencies and Car Sex 176

Max's Pot 182

The Sultan of Scrounge 184

9 Power and Freedom 193

The Last American Man 200

On the Road Again 212

10 Closer to God 219

Stairway to Heaven 221

Howling in the Woods 232

The Neo-Pagans 237

11 Under the Radar 241

Sacrament Stories 242

Take Back the Land 246

Rainbow People-NO2ID 250

Pot-growing Neighbors 253

The Valley Girl 256

Building Without a Permit 259

The Non-identity 261

12 Fear 263

Life's a Beach 265

The Bugout Palace 272

Only Disconnect 276

13 Getting There 281

Why It Matters 281

Acknowledgments 293

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Bottom Line: A compelling look at a relatively invisible subculture. B+"

"Remember from your youth the potheads, the guys who slept in their rust-bucket cars, the women who baked their own bread from scratch and bartered it for used shoes? They're back. You can reunite in this quirky, unsettling and fascinating look at 21st-century men and women who have cut the cord to power and water and choose to live, for a variety of reasons, 'Off the Grid.'"
-Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A timely and gripping read with an entertaining, often inspiring cast of misfits and visionaries, Off the Grid offers a peephole view into the future of apocalyptic America."
-Lydia Millet, author of Oh Pure and Radiant Heart and How the Dead Dream

"Nick Rosen sees going off the grid as a political choice. In Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America, he writes that corporate greed, massive layoffs, healthcare wars, ecological disasters have caused many true believers to question the American Dream. "Most of the people I met on my tour of America," writes the British Rosen, "are losing faith in the grid, both in its literal and metaphorical sense. They don't feel a sufficient advantage to being inside the fabric of society." ... He travels across the U.S. visiting individuals, families and communities that have chosen to live free of the "Meter Man." He distinguishes between the back-to-the-landers, the hippies, the anarchists and the survivalists and writes about the issues they face as they go off-grid - zoning problems, permits and social ostracism.
-The Los Angeles Times

"Journalist Nick Rosen profiles the brave souls who live sans electricity bill, from the predictably fringe-ish (9/11 Truther survivalists, old-order Mennonites) to the surprisingly ordinary: A Colorado mom explains that off-grid living is the only way she can afford to raise her kids "where neighbors are neighborly, and there is plenty of clean air." Thoreau couldn't have said it better himself, and luckily Rosen knows it. Off the Grid makes a convincing case for living deliberately, without too many Waldenisms."
-Mother Jones

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Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
KalieLyn More than 1 year ago
There have been some semi-bad reviews on this book - non-professional reviews none the less - and also some readers expecting the book was going to be different to how it actually is. Off the Grid by Nick Rosen isn't about HOW to live off the grid - if you want that, read his other book, How to Live Off-Grid - but instead about his encounters with people whom already live off-grid and why they decided to ditch the rat race and lead a simpler life. Nick Rosen is a writer and award-winning documentary filmmaker and he wrote this book as he would direct a documentary or comprise an informative news article. The first part of the book informs the reader of the history behind the grid - the electric, water and sewage companies - and how these companies are creating ways for consumers to be dependent on the grid. While the intro - what the grid is and the different examples of how it's "taking advantage" of consumers - was interesting, I did find reading it was quite tedious at some points. However, those who are interested in learning a bit before diving into the story will thoroughly enjoy the beginning. I, on the other hand, become bored when things aren't "happening". I picked up this book because I knew it chronicled the author's travels and encounters with "off-griders" so I was happy when finally, after all the mumbo-jumbo of the beginning, we got to meet some of the people whom live off-grid and learn how and why they decided to lead a more plain and idle lifestyle. The "characters", and some of them definitely are characters, range from an eccentric writer who lives on a Mexican beach (the only person he visited outside of the United States) to "The Last American Man". The wide range of people and the experiences Nick Rosen had with them, is what definitely makes up the entire book and the reason why it was sometimes hard to stop reading. As Nick Rosen's opinion and voice is very present throughout the book, it is hard not to form a judgement of the author himself. For me, I felt that, while he shared different stories from different people, he was a little biased. Maybe it was because he lives half-time off the grid himself or because he just truly believes in living away from mainstream society, but he seemed, especially in the beginning, to find evidence that repeatedly bashed living on-grid and things related to the "grid". Of course, the book is called Off the Grid and I realize that, but as informative as this book was, it would've been great to have a more fair look at the grid. All in all, I do recommend Off the Grid by Nick Rosen. I think he created a wonderful book that is both "travel" and "history", and he shows his readers WHY people choose to live off-grid. It's definitely an informative and interesting read.
bibliosk8er on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just finished this book.First, let me say it is a strangely structured book, jumping all over the country to visit and discuss off-gridders in many locations. Perhaps this would have made more sense in the form a documentary film, but it doesn't quite work in this format. That being said, it is a fun and interesting read. I enjoyed it. The author writes with with and honesty, and he has a genuine interest in off-grid living. He visits off-gridders of many varieties, examines their methods and motivations, and gives each a fair shake. So if you are interested in this kind of thing, I do recommend this book. I respectfully disagree with those who found the author mean-spirited. He does give his opinions, and doesn't hold anything back, but I didn't get the feeling he had a ax to grind with anyone. He was probably harshest with the "inventor" of the Earthship, but from what I gather that guy probably deserves it.
schatzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Although the profiles of different people who were living off the grid (or at least trying to live off the grid) and their reasons for doing so were interesting, I couldn't get over the author's contemptuous tone. He criticized nearly everyone he met and came across as a condescending jerk. He That really ruined the book for me. If the author could have left his patronizing attitude at the door, the book would have been much more engaging.
shannonkearns on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
rosen travels across america visiting people who have either gone off grid or who are living lives that are ready to be off grid. he talks to people who have left the grid for a variety of reasons and tries to get at the root of people's reasons. he explores the various ways that people live off grid; from the legal to the not-so-legal.i really enjoyed this book. it got me thinking about the ways in which i live my life and the areas in which i could change to consume less. my only complaint is that every person he talked to had at least enough money up front to buy land or a trailer or make renovations. it was only in one or two instances where someone had no money at all and usually they at least had a vehicle. i would have liked to have read about some solutions for folks who don't have money to make any kind of deposit upfront but who still manage to get themselves at least somewhat off the grid.
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