At age 62, where do I start? College at 50 is where everything changed for me. Life before that seems incidental.
My name is Debbie, and I am now living off grid since August 2017 in what most would consider a tiny house. It is an Amish cabin with 312 sq. ft. and a loft for my bed. There is no electricity or big solar system. I heat with a wood stove and hand pump water from a well. Water is carried in and out. I have an outhouse, much to the dismay of some friends and family. Meals are cooked on a camping stove on the porch, even when it is -17. There is a system and routine in place, with tweaking as needed. It works for me.
Back to college. I had a little help from the Universe getting me there. For most all of my life, I have worked as an administrative assistant. But, as jobs dwindled, I took up a messenger job with a used van I bought. College rarely entered my mind before that. Until one day, in a split second decision that avoided an accident where I would have been broadsided, that incident shook me up so bad I quit that day and signed up for college the next.
After two years at my local community college, I transferred to Northern Illinois University where I completed my Bachelors in General Studies. I have seen my nieces and nephew transformed into people you can have an adult conversation with after completing college. I went through my own transformation. I have become an activist for the environment, joined a peace and justice group, and played bass steel pans for Elgin Community College for +9 years.
The one class that changed it all was Environmental Sociology, which is what we do to the planet. This class should be mandatory for everyone. If we have to take care of our cars in order to run correctly, we ought to do the same for the Planet. Yes, climate change is happening but we are also creating what I call a “perfect storm” for the Planet. Along with climate change, there are looming water shortages, soil depletion, resource depletion, over population, overfilling landfills, plastic in our oceans and food, bee populations being depleted, methane under a melting Arctic…it doesn’t get much worse. Oh, yes, and we live in a country that consumes the most resources per person and does NOT have a national agenda to do anything about the above “perfect storm.”
So I live off grid to do my part. I am a vegetarian and am off dairy, as well. Our consumer economy is not sustainable on a finite planet with 7 billion people and counting. Can we turn it around in time? We environmentalists just keep on going forward doing what we can. We hope so.
After graduating in 2010, I watched every documentary on the environment that I could. I wanted to know the whole picture. Besides reading on my own, I joined an environmental book club in my area. Each month we read a book to discuss and enjoyed delicious vegetarian dishes with a group of the most compassionate, intelligent, and active women ever.
So that starts my story. Please join me on my journey living off grid as I share what I learned from that one single class and what I will learn living off the land. Let’s save this Planet together. The Planet keeps us alive. It is not there for us to exploit. We need to come together to find a new way for everyone to survive equally. We can do this. It may seem like going backward. I say we are going to Nature. Some say it is some big sacrifice. I see it as just a different habit. It is doable.