Ordinary Americans Living on Backlots and Using Renewable Energy

As Presidential hopefuls outline plans for housing relief packages to slow mounting foreclosures, some Americans have taken matters into their own hands.

The off-grid web site is teeming with stories from ordinary Americans living on backlots, using renewable energy, living ecological lives.....but also just surviving....on low incomes and with a good lifestyle: Many have come to the site to share their experiences or to ask for advice.

Off-Grid.net Editor, Nick Rosen has interviewed hundreds of off-gridders about their reasons for living this way, and the site has many case studies to show that many who are being repossessed are turning to the off-grid lifestyle. The site receives 80,000 US visitors per month.

Nick Rosen is a leading expert on how to live the high life on a low budget. His book, "How to Live Off-Grid" published by Doubleday, is not about survivalism, but it is about survival at a time when the repo man is everywhere:

"We lived beyond our income, charging, borrowing, refinancing….." says off-gridder Ladena Sipes in one article on the off-grid.net web site: "…we waited too late to sell our house and instead the bank foreclosed. Bankruptcy loomed and frankly, we didn't know how we would make it.

"When it became obvious we weren't going to be able to hang onto the house we sold almost everything....furniture, appliances, etc....and moved into two travel trailers on 20 acres we owned. It was really our only choice."

Now says Sipes, she is happier than she has ever been: "odd as it sounds…it feels good…we are much happier since we accidentally escaped the consumerism and rush of our "other life. I know we'll never go back to the city. We love it out here and staying and building a mortgage free home is our dream."

Many visitors to the off-grid.net web site describe the precise details of their off-grid lives: "I live off grid in upstate New York, Southern Adirondacks," says tattoo artist Denise de la Cerda,32. " I have a good client base in New York City, and when I go there to work, I generally couch surf.

"Currently at home I don't even have solar - yet - and find that I really don't need electricity for much. This year I got a well dug, and now am able to hand pump my water. Previous to that, I was collecting rainwater and filtering it. In winter I heat with a woodstove. I cook with a small propane stove."

In London, England, Mayor Ken Livingstone has just called for the whole city to go off-grid, citing opposition from central government as the only obstacle. In a meeting last week reported in the London Observer, Livingstone told Thom Yorke from Radiohead: " We don't want the normal grid. We want to get everybody off grid.

"It doesn't matter if it's nuclear or gas, 65 per cent of energy is wasted in the cooling system."

Nick Rosen said: "There are practical, achievable ways that any city can reduce and eventually eliminate its dependence on wasteful power and water grids.

"From local micro-grids powered by renewable energy to Combined Heat and Power (CHP) supplies for high density dwellings such as high rises," it would be quite possible to unplug London from the National Grid.

"Human and household waste could be turned into energy by local treatment plants, rather than be transported miles to sewage plants.

"And rainwater harvesting could supply a very high percentage of our household water needs, especially in winter."

"It's a combination of new technology and ancient wisdom." said Rosen.

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