5 Modern Families Living It Up Off The Grid


Living off the grid isn’t just some hippie weirdness anymore. More families are being turned on to this lifestyle for a variety of reasons; be it a way of living simply, getting away from fossil fuels, the satisfaction of being independent, or simply because they want to do greater social good in the world.

The definition and reasoning for living off the grid has changed from when the movement first started in the 60’s to modern day. The 1960’s – 1970’s off the grid lifestyle centered on people wanting to do for themselves; living simply and synchronized with nature. The back-to-the-land movement of that time period was about families, solitary sorts, and offbeat communes craving to live a life in the wilderness away from the mainstream society. Dona Brown, author of Back to the Land, a history of the movement, said that “Many of those people dreamed of escaping modern society completely. They were thinking about opting out.”

The modern day off the grid movement has slightly different motives dealing with less individual focus and more on doing what is best for the greater good of the world we live in and all its inhabitants. The movement is a healthier lifestyle to the mainstream societal ways which have detrimentally harmed the earth due to global warming, pollution, drained aquifers, and fracking. Here are 5 modern families coming from all walks of life that are truly living off the grid:


The Kimball Family:
Off-grid for food and much of farm’s power.

Mark and Kristen Kimball are owners of Essex Farm in New York’s Champlain Valley. They feed 222 members of their community through their CSA. Their farm produces organic diets of produce, grains, meat, and dairy. The Kimballs use solar arrays for a third of their power while pushing for 100 percent by the end of the year. They consume 90 percent of their calories from local resources whether that be their own farm or neighboring farms.

Kimball family


Jimmy Lizama:
Off-grid for transportation and gray water.

Jimmy Lizama, resident of Los Angeles, California, has never owned a car in his entire life. He bicycles everywhere saying that it raises his quality of life on a daily basis. He even has a cargo bike for his son who he takes 4 miles to school every day. Los Angeles is notorious for traffic yet Jimmy claims he gets to places just as fast most people do.
Jimmy is conscious of how he can do good in everyday life considering aspects like how he gets around and what he consumes. He uses a gray-water system, composts, and even grows his own bananas!

Jimmy Lizama and son


Joseph Trumpey:
Off-grid for food, water, power, and building materials

Joseph Trumpey lives in Grass Lake, Michigan where much of the power infrastructure comes from coal of fracked natural gas. He took the courageous step of not participating in that system. Joesph designed and constructed an incredibly energy efficient house with deep walls, windowsills, and texture of the plaster all coming from locally grown straw-bale. The mass of the adobe on the walls was local and the stones came from his very own field. In the wintertime, he waits for the sun to do laundry. Joseph has all the common electrical devices but uses a lot less energy to power them.

Joseph Trumpey and daughters


Norma Heath:
Off-grid for street light

Norma Heath has lived in Detroit, Michigan for 16 years now. Twelve years ago when major cities had a 3 day blackout from electricity, she had the thought “If we had solar lights, we wouldn’t have to worry about this.” In November she ended up installing solar lights. The very next month, a transformer went out and everything went dark for the next 10 blocks except for her house.

Norma and Kelvin Heath


Kristy Klaiber:
Off-grid for water, power, and most building materials

Kristy Klaiber and her husband were on the verge of retiring when they decided they wanted to build their own self-sustaining house in Las Vegas, New Mexico. After talking to their architect, he gave them the confidence that they could build that house themselves. She used 600 recycled tires each filled with three wheel barrels full of dirt which total accounted for 300 pounds! Their bathroom is all made out of aluminum cans. Kristy is dependent on solar power which is easily generated by the grand amount of sun New Mexico receives.

Klaiber house


Photographs by: AMY TOENSING
Article by: Rodale’s Organic Life

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