At our late August TTJ Gathering, a bit of fall chill was in the air. During this season of late summer harvests and putting food away, Peter Schoen, Bolton resident charmed us with his talk on Off-the-Grid living.
Son of a do-it-yourself father, Peter attended Sterling College where he says his unique education straddled learning the humanities with acquiring skills such as sharpening an axe for example! When he moved in with his wife she was living in a small cottage complete with oil lamps, antique ice box, and combined woodstove/oven; romantic perhaps, but not entirely practical.
They moved to their Cozy Shack in the early 2000s, large enough to eventually raise a daughter, now a teenager. Stocked with sophisticated LED lights and thickly insulated cellulose walls, they learned everything from utilizing graywater to the ins and outs of compost toilets and much in between. Peter said the lifestyle is like “navigating between riding a bull and riding a dressage horse”.
Peter shared some interesting stats. For example, while the average use of water for Americans is seventy gallons a person/day, his family gets by on five gallons each. And while the average American produces 17k lbs. of carbon dioxide per year, off the grid living averages just 300 lbs. per person each year.
Hopes and dreams? Peter would ultimately like to obtain all of their power from solar panels thereby eliminating generators. But he’s as committed as ever to the daily challenges, saying “I love how I’ve lived..it seems right to me!”
We organizers of TTJ would love to host a future meeting on a similar theme; perhaps bringing together a group of off-gridders for a panel discussion; let us know if you'd like to participate!