Royal Roads University professor’s tour goes ‘off the grid’

November 29, 2014
Times Colonist
Amy Smart
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The notion of living “off the grid” is a romantic ideal to some and a nightmare to others.

But for one Royal Roads University professor, who travelled the country to meet 200 people who have unplugged in favour of more independence, it’s a lifestyle that holds practical promise for the future.

Phillip Vannini said he wanted to see what self-sufficiency looks like in each province, given the world’s limited resources.

“We’re fearful, we’re anxious that we’re going to have to make a lot of sacrifices. We hear that seven billion people can’t live as luxuriously as we do [for much longer] and that we will need to rely more on renewable energy,” he said.

“So for me, taking a look at the homes of people who rely on renewable energy today, in a sense, it means taking a look at the lifestyle that many of us will need to deal with tomorrow.”

Vannini defines off-the-grid in the same way the federal government does, as a home that isn’t connected to natural gas or electricity infrastructure. But in addition to generating their own heat and power, Vannini said the people he met were supporting themselves in many other ways, from growing their food to disposing of their sewage.

Vannini, who teaches cultural studies and ethnology, invited his student Jonathan Taggart, a photojournalist, along for the ride. The pair made a documentary, which will screen for free at Royal Roads on Monday at 11:15 a.m., and published a book that was released last week.

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