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Off the Grid – For You?

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Off The Grid – Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America, by Nick Rosen.

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? Should we depend on it and the giant corporate structure behind it? With energy prices soaring, the housing market in shambles, the financial institutions collapsing, and unemployment hovering at devastating lows, more and more Americans are choosing to free themselves from dependence on the grid.

In Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True INdependence in Modern America, award-winning documentary filmmaker and part-time off-grider, Nick Rosen, takes readers on a fascinating and complex journey through a seemingly simple lifestyle. Nick travels to every corner of the US, sometimes into harsh environs, to investigate the growing movement of off-the-grid living.

His adventures take him from one end of the country to the other, in rented cars that often double as hotels and on public transit when his subjects demand it. He spends time with all sorts of individuals and families striving to live the lives they want–forgoing municipal power and amenities–in the ultimate search for freedom from government and its far-reaching grasp.

The people featured in Off The Grid, and within the movement at-large, are not always the back-to-the-wild recluses that one might expect, although a few are profiled, including the rustic characters made popular through Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man and gun-toting novelist Carolyn Shute.

To the contrary, many of those living off-the-grid have built small communities of like-minded people, often families with young children who are committed to helping one another. There are groups of devoted environmentalists who see this lifestyle as the only responsible way to counteract the massive energy consumption prevalent in ordinary American life.

Others live this way rather unexpectedly, after finding urban and suburban lifestyles in conflict with their personal ethics, and still others were forced into their situations by economic factors beyond their control.

Those in Off The Grid are all incredibly diverse but what they do have in common is their understanding of how tenuous their unique situation is, and the effort and determination required to maintain it. In the modern era, when Americans and the world in general are pushing towards greater connectivity and development, they are struggling to hold onto what they have–and often fighting back against the authority they wish to escape. Although the stories of these alternative lives are varied, all are truly incredible.

Off The Grid – Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America, by Nick Rosen (Penguin Paperback Original, 2010).

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