BY: ROB HOFFMAN
Photo by: Eric Valli for original photo series called “Off The Grid”
Where off-grid living once called to mind visions of reclusiveness, loners and dirty hermits, its reputation has since settled in to the golden throne of lifestyle choices, representing an existence of unbridled freedom, autonomy and dare I say glamour.
Not only does an off-grid home offer personal emancipation from mortgages and the hamster-wheel of consumerism, but it also represents a step-forward in environmentally conscious living and long term sustainability. Thoreau would be proud—even if it did take the looming threat of climate change and a potential apocalypse for these ecological concerns to become popularized.
Looking to further explore this shift of societal expectation, ethnographer and professor at Royal Roads University, Phillip Vannini, teamed up with award-winning photojournalist, Jonathan Taggart—vastly known for his behind-the-scenes documentation of off-grid communities and modern isolation.
Is it really possible for anyone to pack their bags, sell their shit and erect an epic tiny-home in a cosy nook of secluded wilderness? Is it realistic, or financially viable? Vannini and Taggart set out to uncover the types of people that make the leap to off-grid life—it turns out, according to Vannini in Huffington Post, “These people were not hermits or hippies or nutbars, they were just very educated individuals who had found a better way of living.”
After two years, ten provinces, three territories and 200 lives deeply embedded in the Canadian wilderness, Taggart gives his own definition of a life dedicated to self-sustainability, isolation and environmental accountability. “[Living off-grid] means having to radically re-invent life as we know it. It means choosing to live in a way that is dramatically innovative: a way that draws on skills of the past and is inspired by concerns for our collective future.”
The full documentary, Life Off Grid, is set to come out “spring of 2015”—in other words, any day now. With Taggart and Vannini’s track record—and by the looks of the trailer—it’s likely to be a film that leaves many with, as John Muir once put it, “the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.”