Making a tree sanctuary

635944216534495162-Shelli-Stanback-003Shelli Stanback didn’t just want to write checks to worthy causes that help preserve our natural world or promote a healthier future. “It’s a different kind of commitment,” the long-time Asheville philanthropist said. “You don’t miss the view or the history, until it’s gone.”

Stanback purchased a 54-acre property to create the OM Sanctuary wellness and meditation retreat center. She has made sure the green woods won’t be lost.

Along with the city-owned Richmond Hill Park nearby, the OM Sanctuary’s woods represent the city’s largest protected tract of urban forest, just a couple of miles from the heart of downtown.

“Natural places are essential for human health,” Stanback said. “Once they have been lost to development they are gone forever. We must preserve them now for our sake, and for the sake of the future.”

Working with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, OM Sanctuary placed an easement on some 42 acres containing cove forest, oak forest and low mountain pine forest, with mixed hardwoods. The tract also contains pools in the river floodplain that provide habitat for salamanders, amphibians and reptiles.

“It is a rare gem containing an uncommon cluster of natural features near Asheville’s urban core,” said Carl Silverstein, SAHC’s executive director. The forest provides ecosystem services and preserves a scenic view seen by many people every day: recreational users of the French Broad River and everyone who drives past it.”

Finding sanctuary

About five years ago, Stanback was attending a retreat for the Southern Law Environmental Center meeting at Richmond Hill. The Victorian landmark mansion built by U.S. Sen. Richmond Pearson had been razed by an arson in 2009. The inn had other buildings added in the 1990s but was facing bankruptcy.

She remembered standing under the willow tree outside when the decision came to her. “I could do this for the people of Asheville and beyond. I could create a sanctuary here.”

With funds from the Brad and Shelli Stanback Foundation, she formed a nonprofit to buy the property for $4.5 million in 2011.

Stanback has been interested in healing since she was a girl suffering from migraines and looking for relief. She was deeply interested in alternative medicines and environmental issues long before she met her husband, Brad.

His family had made money with the Stanback headache powders, invented in Rowan County in 1911, and familiarized by the slogan “Snapback with Stanback.”

Her father-in-law, Fred Stanback Jr., was roommates at Harvard with famed investor Warren Buffett. Stanback went on to became a private investor and influential philanthropist based in Salisbury. With his wife, Alice, he’s made millions of dollars in gifts, protecting vistas along the Blue Ridge Parkway with conservation easements.

Shelli and Brad Stanback continue that family legacy through their own foundation. They recently gave $1 million to the American Chestnut Foundation, trying to restore the chestnut trees that were killed off in the Appalachians …

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Off-Grid Festival 2016


 A unique festival that teaches us How to live “Off-Grid” and in “harmony with our environment”

Off-Grid festival is an green gem of a family festival that has grown out of the British grassroots festival movement. Over the last seven years the event has educated and informed thousands of people about the skills and knowledge required to live a low-impact ‘off-grid’ lifestyle.

offgridcollegeOff-Grid Festival brings together some of the UK’s most progressive thinkers and practical activists in a temporary space where everything is possible. Participants of all ages will engage in an immersive educational experience curated over four packed days of workshops, talks, forum and other practical activities.

At the core of this unique event is the Off-Grid College, a 12 module course in practical sustainability, applied permaculture and appropriate technology, featuring some of the UK’s most respected tea
chers and practitioners in subjects as diverse as eco retro-fitting your home, wild and natural healthcare, forest gardening and DIY energy systems.

Off-Grid Festival is a special exploration of community living, creativity and consciousness; creating an intimate environment in which to learn, share skills, trade knowledge, impart wisdom and make a difference. It is a 100% participatory event, self-organised by those that attend.

The four-day festival offers organic, local, food and drink, a family friendly vibe including West-country’s finest storytellers an Off-Grid Kids space, along with entertainment and live music. There is also a fantastic crafts area showcasing local and traditional crafts from stone-carving to woodturning, weaving and blacksmithing.

Off-Grid organisers are delighted to have found a new home for the event at The Biophilia Projec087Z9151t, Exeter set in 96 acres of regenerated meadow and woodland. Biophilia aims to be as ‘off-grid’ and independent as possible, and supports the growth of biodiversity and nurture of the local Biosphere. An enterprise that seeks to define and develops models & steps towards a future in which humanity could live in enriching harmony with nature.

To launch this years festival Off-Grid have organised a crowd-funding campaign where tickets can be purchased and people who wish to support the festival can do so. The Lets Make it Happen campaign at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/off-grid-festival-2016 is looking to raise at least £6000 towards the core costs of producing this special event. With only 300 tickets available, it is advisable to book as early as possible.

All donations over £20 include membership of the Off-Grid: Biophilia Project. The Biophilia Association will be organising seasonal events each year which includes an Off-Grid Camp, banquets and other special occasions. Association Affiliates get discounted access to all such events. By committing to support Off-Grid, by buying a ticket or one of the other supporter options, you are ensuring that this event can go ahead and the magic can return this coming August. It means we can begin planning; booking speakers, contributors, musicians and pulling together our Team. https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/off-grid-festival-2016 There’s nothing quite like …

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Floating fortress suffers solar burnout


This huge floating fortress of sustainable living, off the coast of Vancouver Island British Columbia has inspired many to follow a sustainable life. Wayne Adams, 66, and Catherine King, 59, built their home together in 1992, and have been growing and fishing for their own food ever since.
The home, named “Freedom Cove,” consists of 12 floating platforms that include a dance floor, an art gallery, a guest lighthouse, a studio for Adams and King, and 5 greenhouses. The settlement is next to half an acre of land for growing edible crops. The couple gets water from a nearby waterfall during the summer and from rainwater during the winter. The settlement had been powered by an array of 14 solar panels, but recently switched to a generator after these broke down.
Perhaps inspired by the Floating Cove – a new design is being proposed in Germany, although still in the planning stages.The Lusation Autartec prototype will be built on Lake Geierswalde in the Lusatian Lake District.

The two-story floating home will be built on a steel pontoon measuring 43 x 43 ft (13 x 13 m). The ground floor is planned 807 sq ft (75 sq m), and the first floor just 365 sq ft (34 sq m). There will also be a deck running around the perimeter of the building.

Heating via a fireplace, will feature a supersaturated solution of salt hydrates to soak up heat from the flames. The designers claim that after this solution is heated in a special tub, which is placed over the fire, and liquefies, it is capable of holding in the heat practically indefinitely. The system works similarly to a chemical hand warmer, since the solution can be made to crystallize via a radio-based technology, which releases the heat on command. There is also a back up zeolith thermal storage unit, which is located inside the pontoon. During the summer, the zeolith minerals dry out, while in winter, by circulating moist air through the pontoons an exothermic reaction occurs which releases further heat.

The home will also feature a so-called adiabatic cooling system, which doesn’t require any energy and is based on the principle of evaporative cooling. Basically, moistening a side of the house will work to draw heat out as this moisture evaporates. All the needed power will be provided by solar panels built into the actual structure of the home. The energy produced will be stored in lithium polymer batteries hidden away inside the stairs.

The home will also be off-the-grid in terms of water needs. This will be achieved by means of a closed loop system. The biological reprocessing system will be based on ceramics, photocatalysis, electrochemistry, and filtration. The entire system will be small enough to fit into the pontoon, but robust enough to handle all the water purifying needs.
When they aren’t working on their sustainable lifestyle, they …

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Jean’s Yurt

Jeans Yurt (30 of 30)Jeans Yurt (14 of 30)

Another in our series of photos by Beth Bicknell.

Jean’s yurt was possible one of the most cosy, exquisite structures Beth visited. A yurt she’s had made for her, with her own additional features – she’s put in a hard wooden flooring, dug out ground to create a flat surface from an awkward hill, placed numerous quilts inside the yurt to form insulation, and plastic sheeting used as windows in cut out holes.

Jean also added solar panels, however unfortunately in winter months these apparently do not produce a lot of energy for her. She said the day before was the worst ever, giving her only 20 minutes of her favourite show on TV.

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WIN A COPY OF "OFF THE GRID"  Do you have ​great pictures of your Off-Grid cabin, shack, trailer​…. ​or somebody else’s that you happened to be visiting?
Now is your opportunity to put them to good use!
You could win a copy of Nick Rosen’s book, “Off The Grid”,​ published by Penguin,​ and see your ​snaps published on our website, Facebook page, twitter, and instagram.

Just follow ​these simple steps to enter the contest!

1. ​Email a brief story of how ​you came to be​ at the place in the photo​, ​or what inspired you​ about it​, with your full name and email address ​to: ​news@off-grid.net (only ONE picture by participant).
2. Attach the pic to the email
​ 3. ​Like the FB page​ – offgridpeople

The contest will end ​31 Jan 2016 at ​23.59 GMT
-Follow us on twitter and instagram! @OffGridNetwork and @offgridnet
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By​ entering the contest, you are giving ​us permission ​to publish the photo for non-profit purposes.

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A post-consumerist speaks: I HAD IT WITH THE MAN


Amanda Gang is weary of consumerism – appalled at the way her own parents are such avid shoppers.

She just wants out. so she is hoping to wander across the USA on a bicycle. She lives in Manhattan.

In this video, Amanda tells us she is looking for passionate and like minded people that feel her need to go living off the grid. She would like land, where she can just be and a community which will let her do what she likes to do and that is to get back to mother nature. This appeals to her and her friends.

She would like to attach herself to what her heart tells her where to be within a community that she relates with as gardening and building a home. She thought the art community was this but the four white walls and zero eye contact makes her think what her mind and heart tells her — that an alternative of living in contact with the earth is the answer.

This lady is starting from scratch and she is surrounded by a cycle of destruction where her body yearns for nature. She has to learn from trial and error.


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Carolyn Chute

Carolyn Chute living in the woods – she couldn’t be happier

Catch our video visiting one of America’s greatest living novelists as she does her daily chores the Maine backwoods?

She just doesn’t trust the system – nor want any part of it.

Carolyn searched for her piece of heaven together with her husband. They are both people who lost faith in the system, as it failed them.

She talks movingly about the death of her baby son when she did not have the money for medicare bills.

Carolyn also has a deep sense of pain for the slaves that were brought over many years ago. She wants to live a more natural and earthy life so that she can find peace within.

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Off-Grid 101

Learn to love what you already have

Learn to love what you already haveGoing off-grid also means living in a simpler manner, learning to be free.
In this article we’ll give you tips on how to love what you already own.
1.You don’t need something that doesn’t benefit anyone else
You know that figurine you bought last year and now is on your shelf covered in dust? As it happened, you didn’t needed it! Think before buying something, if it’s really going to affect your every day life in a positive way.
2. You don’t need something that causes debt
If you want to be free, getting into debt is definitely not the way go. The more stuff we buy, the bigger our debt gets. If we learn to love what we already have, then we’ll be happier without needing to accumulate more possessions.
3. You don’t need anything that makes you want more
They is some stuff in life that satisfies some of our needs, but other stuff just creates more needs, and we never have enough. Have you ever purchased something and realized you need a few other items to go with it? Like a few decoration items that would be perfect if they went with another couple of things?


4. You don’t need things that make you forget what’s important
When you de-clutter your environment, you begin to realize what is truly important to you. Many times, possessions can cloud your judgment. The very act of deciding what things you can live without forces you to take a deeper look at your inner motivations.
Loving what you already have can be challenging. However, every time I remember these five things, it is easier for me to find contentment with my life. Loving what I already own has led me to a minimal, happier lifestyle.


Loving what you already have can be challenging. However, every time I remember these five things, it is easier for me to find contentment with my life. Loving what I already own has led me to a minimal, happier lifestyle.

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Home & Away star goes off the grid

lisa-gormley-anti-fracking-300x242Home and Away’s Lisa Gormley is in the middle of building an off-the-grid eco cabin in the Tasmanian rainforest. She is looking forward to spending more time with her family, including her parents who live on a 20ha farm.

The 30-year-old moved to Tasmania with her parents when she was 12, and recently said she wanted to spend time with her family and travel. Not one to shy away from new challenges, Gormley was one of hundreds of people who gathered in Tasmania’s Upper Florentine Valley in April to rally against the Federal Government’s attempt to reopen some World Heritage-listed forests to logging.

One of Australia’s most popular stars she revealed she would be open to returning to her soapie roots, years after shocking fans with her decision to leave.

Dan Ewing and Lisa Gormley, who played on-screen couple Heath and Bianca, recently reunited on the Home And Away set to film An Eye For An Eye – a spin-off. And the walk down memory lane left both pining for the good old days. “I’d definitely be open to a discussion about coming back, I have to say,” Ewing admits.

“If the (right) storyline was there, I would. I wouldn’t want to play the same old Heath for another three years, though – I’d want it to be fresh and him to have evolved.” At least part of his willingness to return to the role of resident heavily inked bad boy Heath comes down to Archie, his one-year-old son.

Ewing and his wife Marni have been mostly raising their bundle of joy in Los Angeles. It’s a great city, especially for an ambitious actor, but he says nowhere compares to home.

“Having a kid really changes your perspective,” he admits. “The quality of life here in Australia is unique – you can’t find it elsewhere in the world. There are so many opportunities – we’re so lucky.

“But, most of all, I think it’s a dad thing … I’m looking at life for my child. And Marni really misses her family. Skype and FaceTime are great but it can’t beat the joy of seeing your little boy run up to grandma for a big hug.” LA will always be there, too – and technology means an actor doesn’t have to physically live Stateside these days to chase the big time, he says.

Since leaving the show, Gormley has spent a few years travelling, teaching overseas and starring in various stage productions. And the nature-loving performer is in the middle of building an off-the-grid eco cabin in the Tasmanian rainforest.

Gormley is also open to returning to the show that launched her career – just not yet. “I would, but maybe not for another little while because I’ve still got things I want to try,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of things that were on my list – I’m slowly …

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Off-Grid 101

Interview: Remote, exurban homesteaders in Alaska

Mark Zeiger has been living with his family in an off-grid homestead in Alaska for over a decade . This is episode 2 of our interview. In this film: What are his reasons for leaving the grid? What’s it like to live in an off-grid community?

Mark is one of those who is not looking for publicity – he just wants to help others appreciate the opportunities to live off the grid.

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Eviction Notice For An Amish Family

Eviction Notice for Amish Family Living Without Electricity

Eviction Notice For An Amish Family An Amish family in Wisconsin woke up one morning last week with an eviction notice on their front door. It was for refusing to fit a smoke detector in their off-grid home.

The court order for Amos and Vera Borntreger, along with their four young children, is for violating Eau Claire County building codes in their off-grid home….because it lacked, among other things, smoke detectors as mandated by the Uniform Dwelling Code.

A judge issued an order evicting the family of six from their home in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin. The Borntregers are Old Order Amish who believe that some modern technologies, including electronics, should be avoided, and the way they live is dictated by their beliefs they say.

County building inspectors tried to force them and 400 other Amish residents to install battery-operated smoke detectors in their homes disregarding the moral and religious issues that this was causing.

Some, to prevent this same thing happening to them, would install the required smoke detectors for inspection and then have them removed afterwards, but some families are strongly against this practice, as lying would also be a moral dilemma for them.

Thankfully, the Borntregers were able to stay in their home by following a waiver process approved by the Wisconsin state legislature that applies to all residents. Under the new law, residents can appeal to the state Department of Safety Professional Standards for a waiver if the rules conflict with sincerely held religious beliefs.

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Experience a Tiny House – No Strings Attached


Off-grid Experience

Perhaps you’ve thought about ditching the concept of the traditional house and living a full off-grid experience, in a tiny home? But you haven’t got the nerve to try it out.

Maybe you’re pretty sure that an off-the-grid lifestyle is for you, but you don’t want to fully commit to living in compact quarters. A new Boston-based start-up wants to let you try your hand in the world of off-grid living with no strings attached.

Sacrificing the open space of a traditional home for compact living has many benefits. Cost efficiency, sustainability, and focusing on the simplicity of life hold obvious allure, and for some, this allure is reason enough to convert from a typical home or apartment to dwellings no larger than a single shipping container.

Boston-based company Getaway will let you rent a mobile tiny home in the Boston area for as little as 99$ a night.


Some homeowners might find the idea of permanently leaving their space for something radically different is just too big of a transition. The answer may be this clever new take on an off-the-grid vacation,

Using the same principles of tiny house living (including the need to escape, the need to foster nomadic living, and the desire for sustainability), the newly-created company set out to build their very own tiny homes to fit families comfortably. The home is designed by Harvard graduate students and includes solar–powered flaps and a composting toilet. There are plenty of designs to optimize space, like fold-out beds and shelves to fit books and board games. Should the house be transported, setup will take less than an hour.

The overall design is meant to be simple, but also harness the best economy for the space. The average cost of rent in the U.S. is $962, while to rent a night in the tiny home which sleeps four, complete with bicycles and firewood, costs only $99 a night. There’s an additional fee of $15 for a pet, or a $10 fee for a third and fourth guest. The houses will be built on land leased from local landowners. Getaway sees this as a benefit for landowners: having a tiny house for rent on their properties would provide people with an additional source of income, and put open land to good use.

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