Living off the grid: photographs of people living a different life

May 3 |
Photos courtesy Eric Valli

Photographer Eric Valli has spent the last four years talking with people who are trying to reduce their impact on the planet by living off the grid. They hunt, they fish, they forage — they don't use cars or buy many materials, and they look like people trapped in time.

From Kitune Noir's write up:

It's interesting to see that he documented three varying degrees of being off the grid. You have the lone hunter in the woods, the family who appear to be Amish, and on the extreme end, a group of folks who almost look like hunter gatherers. The contrast between the three groups is pretty staggering. On the table of the hunter we see a bottle of hot sauce, so clearly he's still seems connected with the modern world. The Amish family is almost the neutral base of the group. We all have a familiarity with how they live, generally we know they live simply, just some fruit and an unloaded gun on the table.

Off the Grid Kitsune Noir

  1. love this post! does anyone know how one might get "off the grid" once you've gotten on it? we bought a home in the country last year and we're trying to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, electricity, etc… but when you google my (uncommon) name, my new address is one of the very first results that comes up! i've tried contacting the company that owns the website, every legislator in my state to introduce privacy legislation, the recorder of deeds in my county, and even the BBB — no dice! any suggestions?

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    • As far as having your name off of Google and any search engines, that may be hard in this day and age. I wish I had some advise there! I love that you are being conscious about your footprint on our earth. Have you looked into solar or wind power? How about water usage? I grew up without electricity and running water, and because of that I am aware of everything I do and how it affects our resources. It is a great learning experience and I wish you all the best of luck!

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      • at this point solar and wind are out of our price range, but we're hoping to get some wind power going in the next few years. we're on well & septic, but we have converted the toilets to dual flush and installed shower & faucet aerators. baby steps! we've only been in the house six months so we've been taking care of inadequate insulation, etc.

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        • i think there are ways you could build your own solar and wind…i did a quick google search and came up with this: http://www.energy2green.com/ but there must be other resources out there. best of luck!

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        • Just did some research on this topic and found a product that releated to this, it's http://www.powerinwater.com/ there are tons of information in google about this, just do your research. Cheers!

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    • disclaimer- law student here, this is not legal advice and I am not certified to give legal advice-

      One possible way to get around the system would be to open a holding company (corp or llc) that you would work for, that you would deed all of your property to and that would pay your bills. Then the only public record regarding your whereabouts would be your income tax records. It might add a level of red tape between you and whoever is publishing your address.

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    • ChillingEffects lists misappropriated material as well as wankers who claim their info was misappropriated (when it wasn't). It's a non-partisan claim website if you want to go that way, but it's public record as well. Google just links to the chilling effects page instead of showing the listing with your address in search results.

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    • Property records are public – anyone can look them up. Ang is correct about having a business entity be the legal property owner (you could also look into transferring your home to a trust), but there is one BIG caveat: you'd better have the means to pay cash. Mortgage companies will always demand that the mortgage be in your legal name. (For more on this, read "How to Be Invisible" by J.J. Luna.) Your name can also be looked up via utility, phone, cable, and internet service accounts (which can all be put into the name of a trust, LLC, etc.).

      I do have some good news: you can legally remove your name from people search sites for little or no money. Safeshepherd.com will remove your name from the most common sites for free, since they tend to pose the biggest privacy threat (there is a fee to request removal from the smaller ones). Or, try this Reddit how-to: http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/j1mit/how_to_remove_yourself_from_all_background_check/

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      • property records are public. the problem is that formerly, you had to have a certain amount of information (such as the state, county, and name of the person you were trying to find) in order to get access to those records — they are not indexed by search engines.

        now, not only are these results indexed for use by search engines, the company has been selling them to other databases (pipl, mylife, spokeo, etc) so that they will be highly rated in search results and appear on the first or second page.

        judging by the amount of markets on blockshopper's website, my state is one of only a handful that allow this type of activity (or they just haven't gotten that far yet). i heard back from one senator this morning urging me to file with the ftc and alert the rest of our representatives (which i've already done) so that the wheels can be set in motion. the problem is, the information is time sensitive. once you are found, you are found. what we really need is an immediate injunction to have the website taken offline while these thousands of complaints can be investigated. thanks for the feedback!

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  2. Love this!!

    These photos totally depict the distinction between living off the grid and surviving off the grid. What a great reminder that while I love design and decor, focusing on the material things and consumption is not the only way to live.

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  3. I would LOVE to live off the grid. I suppose a good way to get off it once you're on it would be to rent out the house you purchased and buy an RV to roam in until you can settle off-grid entirely.
    I might retire that way…

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  4. What a beautiful post. These photos are gorgeous and the people captured in them are stirring. I love the OBE, always opening my eyes to something new. I had no idea "living off the grid" was even a thing, but its a very romantic and enticing philosophy. If there are people like this out there, maybe there is hope for this planet, and they can teach us how.

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  5. I love those photos. But I do have a problem with this, it assumes some ability to survive totally independently of other humans. I am pretty sure most of those folks didn't make their own lantrns, hats, shoes, stoves, etc. Humans can create better things and care for one another better when we work together. That does not make us 'part of the problem'. The world could not support a very large population of hunter gatherers, and to say that is how humans should live is to call for a major human die-off. Agriculture, medicine, and technology can improve the quality of life for us all. They are just tools for us to use, that are often used for destruction and murder, but that does not make technology itself bad. We need community and cooperation, not some pretence that we can be or should be totally isolated from one another

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    • Could not agree more. The pretense that living off the grid is a real answer to human environmental impact is false. With as many of us as there are, if we were all to start living off the grid, would impact the earth just as harshly, but in a different way. Sure, we wouldn't have fossil fuels, but we would burn wood (All of it). We wouldn't pollute streams with candy wrappers, but we would pollute it with our other waste. Look at all the third world countries and tell me that living off the grid is a viable alternative for any be a very few of us.

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  6. "The Amish family is almost the neutral base of the group."

    Except that if you know what to look for, they are clearly not Amish. No Amishman would have a moustache with his beard and the hats are all wrong.

    Sorry, pet peeve of mine. Get especially irritated by TV and movies where they seem to think you can dress someone up like the Quaker Oats Man, and that's good enough to pass for Amish/Old Order Mennonite. It's even worse when they give the actors dialogue containing "thee" and "thy". Why would the English of people whose first language is a form of German use archaic English pronouns?

    /rant

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    • That's great feedback for Kitune Noir, the writer who was quoted making the observation about the Amish.

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