a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Posts Tagged ‘Local’

Grid-Free and Off The Beaten Path – a journey

Monday, August 11th, 2008

by Jeannie Newell, Crested Butte, CO

With my 20/20 hindsight, I have seen a few things I would do differently for ‘off-grid’ living if I had to do it all over again.  I would definitely consider buying a second solar panel ($150 a piece) so I could plug in the fridge – we have a cooler / fridge that can be plugged in or not.  It would be easier than carting frozen water in milk jugs back and forth to the camper every other day.  This worked well in May, but July proved to be much more of a pain 😉

Also, I would have known that our handmade tarp based awning would be no match for the Colorado winds, and would have bought something more durable, because moving our wooden chairs and dog beds in and out of the camper during the daily rains is also a pain.  I might find a little something extra for storing things – the truck occasionally gets filled with crap that we don’t have room for in the camper, and so is annoyingly full when we are driving ourselves / our dogs / our recycling around.  Bigger waste water tank — we use a pretty small one, and dish water fills up the tank so fast, emptying it is a weekly job.  Bi-weekly would be nicer.  Its funny experiencing all of the reasons people sought to live more comfortably and conveniently in the first place.  Let’s see, I would buy  travel size bottles of shampoo & other toiletries, because I need to keep them in my backpack at all times and they can be re-filled by the bigger bottles as needed.  They can be kept for future travels, too!
I would have a back up toothbrush and deodorant.

Just some random thoughts about this so-far adventure that I hope will continue through September.

The summer is coming to an end here in Crested Butte. ‘The monsoons’ roll in this time of year, cooling things off.  The camper and truck have been getting nice ‘n dirty from muddy dog paws and just from mud in general!  I now have cows on my street.  Apparently ‘the cows come home’ – seriously – around this time of year.  They drive them here in trucks and drop them off!  sometimes we drive too fast around a bend in the road and get startled by a big mama cow standing in the middle of the road, hanging out.  I am bummed that I still ride my bike less, but at least I carpool with Michael, and I vow to live somewhere (even if it’s here, just in town) where I can bike everywhere.  I would still bike with toiletries and stuff, I think, just because.

Right now I really need some rest.  I’ve been working sooo much lately.  My sister and her friend, Patti, were up from Boulder this weekend and I was busy working a lot of that time.  Also, our little dog Django has been very sick this past week, and we are waiting to hear what the vet thinks about his condition.  Please send prayers and thoughts if you can…

Love and peace,



Thursday, August 7th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

It all started with Big D. I saw him with his water truck, vaccum and rags in the lot behind our co-housing community. He was waxing a car and it was shining. I mean really shining. I felt a brief moment of clean car envy, but I shrugged it off and turned down the road on my bicycle, leaving our dirty little cars behind.

The next time I saw him wasn’t so simple. Big D was wiping down another car, inside and out and and it glittered – almost “happily”. My Pruis and Jerry’s Bio-bug sat nearby, dusty and dull. I took note of Big D’s system – no running hoses (his portable, non-potable water supply seemed to be used extra sparingly), no strong chemical smells, just some good old-fashioned hard work and elbow grease. I know, I’m the girl who thinks the need for clean cars is simply part of our American pathology, but this time, I just had to talk to Big D.

Donald and I had an enjoyable conversation – he smiled a lot as he explained that he wanted to make this his “retirement” job – work he enjoyed, that was much easier than the hauling and loading he had been doing for years. I watched him work on those other cars – not much of it looked easy to me – but I took his word for it. He took a look at my two cars gathering dirt and dust, gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I made an appointment for the next week.

Our cars still don’t get out much, but they look darn happy sitting in their spots with a gleam in their headlights. Big Donald explained the importance of an occasional waxing and I will admit that afterwards, my first generation Pruis looks years younger. The best part, of course, is that I’m participating in the loop of local economy and helping a hard-working person work a little less hard and enjoy a new line of work. In fact, I started daydreaming about how to make Donald the official detailer for the neighborhood…

I’m reminded that everything we do is best done on the middle path. I still don’t feel we need to wash and polish cars as often as we do, or justify using large amounts of potable water to do it. I think many of us can reach a point of driving less, car-sharing or kicking the car habit completely, and that that waterless car wash products will play a role in our future. I have managed to drive little and may even go totally car-free when possible. In the meantime, I’m glad I found Big D and I’m glad he can clean more and haul less.

More Gardens, More Community

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I met Lisa Frangipane today, resident/owner at The Flats in Carrboro, and founder of the Todd Street Community Garden. A smaller version of the flourishing spot nearby, which has already seen two bountiful harvests, this happy veggie garden is also lovingly cared for by residents and rain barrels.

Whenever I meet someone who is doing something unusual and interesting, it seems like they are doing even more interesting and unusual things. This holds true for Lisa, a teacher and avid cyclist who also commutes on her beloved two-wheels. I met with Lisa and took these photos just before she left for a Summer in MA, where she will be living off-grid with friends and building a yoga studio.

Lisa was inspired to blog about this adventure. You can catch up with her at Wicked Mad NE

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