The Off-Grid Encyclopedia

There are a lot of reasons why people choose to go off the gridevading the law is only one of them. Breaking away from national utilities and the international food trade can be the height of libertarian American independence or just a more sustainable, mindful way of livingfor individuals and for entire communities.

It’s not feasible for most people to completely disconnect. As of 2006, just 180,000 U.S. homes were powered completely off-grid. But the current obsession with “natural” lifestyles, growing your own food on Brooklyn rooftops, disconnecting from public utilities or otherwise skirting the norms of modern living is the purview of doomsday preppers and Instagram trendsetters alike.

Here’s a who’s who of these rugged, yet trending, pioneers:


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The Roads Less Traveled

Danielle, Tommy, their dogs and Nigeltheir 1992 Toyota Odysseyescaped the grid by road. With nearly 44k followers on Instagram, Nigel is clearly the star of the fivefully equipped with solar panels, a stove and a full bathroom.

We took a few roadtrips out to Utah and California in our old van and once in a 4 door car, and realized how much we missed traveling.  We honestly couldn’t come up with a good reason of why we SHOULDN’T give RV life a try. You only live once, right?

As entrepreneurs making, among other things, longboard skateboards and original artwork, Tommy and Danielle didn’t have much holding them back from taking up the nomadic lifestyle.


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Back to the Stone Age

Angelo Valkenborgh has crafted an entire lifestyle around his love of the outdoors. He’s traveled through Sweden, Bavaria, Slovenia and elsewhere on a “journey into self-reliance.” He currently works with the Netherlands’ Living By Nature education center, which teaches “neolithic” practices like making natural glue and bark baskets.

Between his blog and his social media accounts, Angelo has beautifully documented the trial-and-error process of learning to lead an entirely natural lifestyle. With over 22k followers on Instagram, he primarily posts about his bushcraft and campingespecially whittling his own tools. His commitment to documenting the “wildman” lifestyle with high-quality video and photography recently netted him a job blogging and vlogging for Bushcraftshop.

It’s not just about carving a spoon. It’s the process of finding, reading and working with wood. In this process I find meditation and tranquility. Ending up with something that I can use and cherish.

Angelo seems more concerned with learning how to survive the way ancient humans survived than living that neolithic lifestyle 24/7. It doesn’t look like he’ll be leaving Instagram any time soon, and despite his commitment to living off the land, he can still be seen taking his dog for joy rides in his Vauxhall Frontera and partaking in local, but still natural, cuisine.


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Brownstones and Beets

Karen Washington (@karwasher) started urban farming in her own backyard some 30-odd years ago. Now, she runs a farm just outside of Manhattan (called Rise & Root) alongside fellow-urban gardeners Jane Hodge, Lorrie Clevenger and Michaela Hayes. Clevenger and Washington founded Black Urban Growers together to forge a stronger network between African-American urban and rural gardeners.

You have to understand where your food comes from. It gives you power.

An urban garden may serve just one individual or an entire neighborhood. The jury’s out on how much more economical or sustainable these gardens generally are compared to commercial agriculture, but they’ve been shown to help foster connection in many communities, give people a better understanding and appreciation for fresh foods and can lend an added degree of food security should disaster strike.


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Everything and the Kitchen Sink

Musicians Arielle Vakni and Vicente Espicollectively the electronic duo ANIMA!have always pursued their passions. Now, they do it from their very own “Earthship.”

These are songs for the people who try to turn their passions into a living. These are songs for the people who were told they can’t.

Architect Michael Reynolds is the father of the Earthshipan entirely self-sufficient home. The Earthships are constructed from natural and repurposed materials (like tires) and are fully-equipped with solar and thermal heating, solar and wind power, water collection, contained sewage treatment and indoor vegetable gardens. It’s a completely one-house show.

Arielle and Vicente aren’t the only two people to invest in an Earthship. Taos, New Mexico, is home to a sprawling network of Earthships, and there’s now close to 2,000 of them across the globe. You can even rent one through Airbnb.

Maybe one of these pioneers is #InstaGoals for you. Maybe they made you snuggle up even closer to your store-bought coffee and cable TV. But some experts believe we’ll all be living off-the-grid to some extent, and very soon. It may be cheaper for households to only use the grid as a backup, producing 80-90 percent of their own energy, as soon as 2020. As people continue to move to sprawling megacities and available farmland shrinks, urban gardening may become a staple of the future as well.

Are we saying you need to become a gardening, sustainably powered hermit by 2020? Not really… unless you want to be Insta-famous, of course.