Prof. Phillip Vannini and research assistant/alumnus Jonathan Taggart have recently published articles in the Huffington Postand Cultural Geographies.
Abtract from Cultural GeographiesDrawing from ethnographic research on Canadian people living off-grid we describe and interpret how people without formal training in architecture or construction manage to build their own homes. Our findings show that they do so thanks to what we call regenerative life skills. Juxtaposing our argument in the context of DIY (do-it-yourself) research and discourse we argue that rather than in a solo endeavor off-grid builders engage in relational practices, becoming entangled with others, with historical traditions, with place-specific resources, and with the affordances of the materials they utilize. DIW (do-it-with) relies on the engagement of what we call regenerative life skills – drawing from relational theory and regenerative design.
From the Huffington PostTo go to the woods to live deliberately. To face but the essential challenges of life. To learn from raw experience and self-taught skill. To live simply, in a Spartan-like manner, in order to suck all the marrow out of life. These are the reasons why Henry David Thoreau moved to a cabin near Walden Pond in rural Massachusetts in the mid-1800s.
Many other seekers of a better way of life set out to do just the same today, all over Canada. They move "off the grid," denouncing the hum of the hypermodern world. They aspire to live off the land, the wind, and the sun, off the reassuring warmth of a stove fire and the cleansing promise of self-sufficiency and voluntary simplicity.
But they differ from Thoreau in an important way. Whereas his experiment was meant to last two years, modern day Canadian off-gridders embark for their back-to-the-land endeavors with a one-way ticket. They strive to tough out windless, cloudy days and the seductive modern conveniences to which the rest of us are addicted--from piped-in heat to red hot blow driers--year after year.