Monday, January 14, 2013

Off On Our Own

I was in a local library when I happened upon this book.  I was immediately intrigued by it.

Off On Our Own, by Ted Carns, is stuffed with several different kinds of things.  First of all, it's the story of how Ted, along with his wife Kathy, built up an off-the-grid, sustainable household in the woods of western Pennsylvania.  He tells the story with humor and a clear belief in what he's doing.  The book is also filled with pictures of The Stone Camp, all of them in black and white, many of them striking.

He also goes into details about the systems that he and others have built there in order to live off-grid and produce 'zero waste'.   He makes it clear that most of these can be built for very little money.  (He found many of the 'expensive' parts he needed for cheap at a local flea market.)  He talks about buildings, power, refrigeration, and water systems.

In addition, he adds plans for 'Eight Small DIY Projects' that someone interested in this stuff can do and lists the Skill Level, Cost, 'What you need', and 'How to do the project'.

Then he throws in a chapter entitled 'Favorite Recipes from The Stone Camp Kitchen' (all of them vegan) with Ingredients and Directions.

Finally, after he talks about 'The Years Ahead of Us', he adds three more chapters in an 'Epilogue' explaining his views on Fossil Fuels, Sustainability, etc, etc.

The book is fun to read and filled with useful stuff.  Best of all, most of this is from one person's own experience.  It's a book about and by someone who is living sustainably, day to day. 

One thing that I didn't like was how the back jacket points out that "They have all the comforts of modern life, from flat screen TV to morning smoothies from their solar powered blender."  This gives the impression that you can live the same consumer lifestyle you've always lived, but just off-grid.  Fortunately, the book points out the problems with upward mobility and what Ted Carns calls "the world's peer pressure..."  As he says, the cure for this is learning to think for yourself.

While this isn't a community book (it's mostly Ted and Kathy and frequent visitors, with him doing most of the work), the stuff in it is applicable to communities, individuals, and families--anyone who wants to live off-grid.  I also noted that he several times mentions how much more he could do if he could clone himself.  I wonder how much more could be done if there were several dedicated people working together on things like this.

Quote of the Day: "One thing I hear a lot when people come to visit is, 'Now I see how much I have to learn.'  At first I wasn't so quick witted, but now I point out straightway, 'No, it's not that at all.  Now, you see how much you have to unlearn.'  Maybe that really is what this book has been all about, teaching a process of unlearning so that you can come to your own clear vision of the future." - Ted Carns

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