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People

Celebrities Quarantining In The Countryside

Celebrities are fleeing urban coronavirus hotspots for quarantining in Wyoming, Montana, and other Western rural regions. Experts are criticizing this move as dangerous to those who live in those areas year-round. Fearing their relocation may cause added stress to an already severely limited healthcare infrastructure.

These include celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, and Kelly Clarkson to name a few.

“These moves have been a huge concern for us,” Alan Morgan, chief executive officer of  NRHA, told NBC News. “It’s such a bad idea for upper-income urban people to hunker down in these areas. It potentially places added pressure on a health care system that was for primary care and general surgery, not for pandemic surge response.”

Morgan said that as of Friday afternoon, there are more than 16,000 cases of coronavirus scattered across rural counties nationally. Hospitals in these areas have one to two ventilators on site on average, he said. More than half of the rural counties in the United States have no intensive care beds at all.

Celebs moving to the countryside

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel were the most recent celebrities to come under fire for the phenomenon. Some have branded “disaster gentrification” after Timberlake recently revealed that the couple has settled into their home in the Yellowstone Club. It’s a 15,200-acre private community west of Gallatin County, to wait out the coronavirus outbreak. Kelly Clarkson has also decamped to her Montana ranch during the pandemic.

“To be honest, we thought the best way to kind of do our part was. We have a place in Montana and so, we came up here,” Timberlake said in an interview with SiriusXM Hits1 on Wednesday.

Travel from urban centers spreading coronavirus to rural areas

Gallatin County is among the top 10 rural counties with the highest reported COVID-19 cases, according to data obtained by NBC News from NRHA. In comparison to the surge of cases, there are currently eight ICU beds available in the country. There’s just one for every 2,141 residents aged 60+, according to Kaiser Health News.

“In Utah, in Colorado, all around the country, we’re hearing the same stories,” Morgan said. “People are moving into these understaffed, underfunded areas that are tinderboxes for the outbreak. Many of the populations in these communities are exactly those who are least equipped to get the virus. Basically older, sicker people with preexisting conditions who can’t afford to be exposed to it.”

Coronavirus Data

Jessica Carson, a research assistant public policy professor at the University of New Hampshire, recently conducted a rapid response project that appears to corroborate Morgan and the NRHA’s assessment that continued travel from those who do not live in rural communities is causing the spread of COVID-19.

After analyzing data from the New York Times, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and the U.S. Census Bureau, Carson determined that the nation …

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Off-Grid 101

Iowa Land Rental Prices Up

An authoritative annual survey of cash rental rates for Iowa farmland, a bellwether for the national market, shows cost per acre have increased, but by no more than the rate of inflation. However, farmland rental prices for the lower quality land are up the fastest, suggesting someone has found a way to make use of low-grade farmland.

You can rent out your farmland here.

This is the fourth successive year of relatively stable rates at levels around 18% lower than the historical peak reached in 2013 at $270 per acre. The survey was carried out in early spring so the effect of the lockdown may yet change results later in the year.
In comparison, corn and soybean prices received by farmers in Iowa declined by 49% and 45%, respectively, since mid-2013. So the underlying value of the land could be said to have increased, while yields per acre are falling in cash terms.

The 2020 Iowa cash rental rate survey was conducted this spring by Iowa State University. Iowans supplied 1,592 responses, reporting typical cash rental rates in their counties for land producing corn, soybeans, hay, oats and pasture. Of these responses, 43% came from farmers, 32% from landowners, 13% from professional farm managers and real estate agents, 6% from agricultural lenders, and 6% from other professions and respondents who chose not to report their status. Respondents indicated being familiar with a total of 1.6 million cash-rented acres across the state.

Different regions experienced different changes in cash rents: from a 4.6% increase in Crop Reporting District (CRD) 3 to a 2.4% drop in CRD 9. Northern and central Iowa (CRD 1 to 6) have, on average, 21% higher cash rents than southern Iowa (CRD 7 to 9). The chart accompanying this article compares the results for 2020.

Results available by county

The survey compares farmland rental prices for each district by the quality of land — high, medium and low. Not all land qualities have seen their average cash rents increase proportionately. Looking at statewide averages, high-quality land experienced a 0.4% increase, from $256 per acre in 2019 to $257 in 2020. Medium-quality land experienced a 1.4% increase, from $220 per acre in 2019 to $223 in 2020. Low-quality land experienced a 2.7% increase, from $183 per acre in 2018 to $188 in 2020.

Average cash rents in Iowa, in $ per acre (nominal)

Detailed results by county and crop are provided on the ISU Ag Decision Maker article Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2020 Survey, C2-10. There was considerable variability across counties in year-to-year changes, as is typical of survey data, but 59 counties experienced increases in average rents for corn and soybeans. The report also shows typical rents for alfalfa, grass hay, oats, pasture, cornstalk grazing and hunting rights in each district.

Some renegotiations expected

Federal government payments from the Market Facilitation Program and expectations of higher …

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People

Ben Fogle’s Off-Grid Experiment

Could your child fell a tree or use a blow torch? TV presenter Ben Fogle travelled to meet families in remote spots — then tried to see if his own children could shape up.

I always thought that in a moment of worldwide crisis I would flee with my family to the Outer Hebrides, where we would build a hand-to-mouth life on one of the islands. And now we are in the midst of one, the reality is rather more prosaic. I am, in fact, holed up with my family in our house in the Chilterns. Still, there is something of the wilderness to it, I suppose: I’m writing this from the children’s treehouse. My son, Ludo, is on his computer in the office while my eight-year-old daughter, Iona, is in the kitchen. Marina, my wife, has taken the front room, which leaves me the treehouse.

Twenty years ago I did spend a year living on an island in the Outer Hebrides as a social experiment for the seminal Channel 4 programme Castaway to see if a group of urban folk could start a society from scratch. We were cut off from the outside world — just the 36 of us, men, women, and children, living together. The experience changed my life and I’ve been fascinated by off-grid, simple living ever since.

As a result, for nearly a decade I have travelled the world visiting people who have abandoned conventional society for a life in the wild for my Channel 5 TV show called New Lives in the Wild. Individuals, couples, families, widows, former convicts, university professors, they have been an eclectic bunch, unified in their desire to break free from the manacles of society. They are all driven by different beliefs — some are introverts, survivalists, environmentalists and apocalyptic preppers — but each has started a simpler life in the wild, cut off from the infrastructure and services of the modern world.

Take the Longs — Robert, Catherine and their children, Robin, then aged 17, and Christan, then aged 20 — sometimes described as New Zealand’s most isolated family. Their house made of driftwood in the Gorge River in the South Island took me three days’ walking to reach when I visited them in 2013.

Or the Burkinshaws, whom I visited in 2018. Mum Rose and dad Jeff and their five daughters, Sarah, Abigail, Julia, Christina and Keziah, live in a remote cabin in the northwest Canadian wilderness, where winter temperatures plunge to minus 30C.

Or the Stone brothers, who lived in a cave in Utah in the US. The identical twins, Bill and Bob, in their eighties, had been holed up in a remote cave system in the desert outback for more than 20 years when I met them first in 2014 before revisiting in 2018.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, over the past few weeks I have found myself thinking …

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People

Harry and Meghan “put planned cannabis brand on hold”

Sources on the West Coast have told Off-Grid.net that a large, legal cannabis farm which had been gearing up production for a super-high quality, recreational cannabis launch from the Sussex Royals, has been told to stand down.

According to rumours circulating among trimmers at the holding, the brand was to be fronted by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and would have been called Her Royal HIGHness.

The possible launch of the brand was consistent with other rumours emerging from London about the reasons for the Sussexes departure from the Royal Household. A Cannabis blog in London filed a report based on inside sources that part of the reason for the strained relationships at the palace may have been the Sussexes support for Cannabis legalisation.

The West coast sources asked to remain anonymous and it was not possible to contact the Sussexes for confirmation because Buckingham Palace press office longer represents the couple.

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People

Zac Efron illness irony

Zac Efron was filming a new off-gid adventure series entitled “Killing Zac” when he was taken ill and nearly died, in a story that will be useful publicity for the upcoming series.The High School Musical star is now said to have been given the ‘all clear’.

Efron was rushed to hospital, flown to Australia from Papua New Guinea by a medical evacuation crew after battling a ‘form of typhoid or similar bacterial infection.’

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Efron was in a ‘stable’ condition when he was admitted to to St Andrews War Memorial Hospital where he was kept in for seven days.

32-year-old Zac had jetted out to Papua New Guinea to film the daredevil series ‘deep in the jungle of a remote, dangerous island, falling off the grid for 21 days”.

The Quibi adventure series is said to star and be executive produced by Zac, who would forego all luxuries to survive with nothing but basic gear and a guide partner for the challenge.

Speaking ahead of filming, Zac said: “I tend to thrive under extreme circumstances and seek out opportunities that challenge me on every level.

“I am excited to explore any uncharted territory and discover what unexpected adventure awaits!”

Four days before Christmas, tour guide Cyril Tara posted pictures with Efron as he took him on to Kamanibit Village.

The pair arrived there by canoe before travelling to Pagwi Village.

“I am very happy to be is guide,’ said Mr Tara on December 7 as he posed for a picture with Zac.

The Californian native first found fame for starring in the Disney Channel original film High School Musical in 2006.

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People

Dave LaChapelle — off-grid with style

An off-grid photographer has created Lavazza’s 2020 calendar and he calls it an Ode to Nature.

American photographer David LaChapelle, made commercials and music videos with the likes of Whitney Houston, Elton John, No Doubt and Amy Winehouse.

The 2020 calendar was shot in Hawaii -where LaChapelle moved from New York in 2006 -and is focusing on the intimate relationship humans have with the natural world.

In the mid-1980s, LaChapelle lost his then boyfriend to AIDS.He fled to London, where that city’s counterculture proved enormously influential in forming his aesthetic. “I thought I’d seen it all. When I went to London, the level of creativity and insanity … they were on a whole other planet.” He was particularly struck by that culture’s insistence on originality, rather than copying. For him, Los Angeles had been “the literal opposite”. While living in London, he married the female publicist of the UK popstar Marilyn and the marriage lasted a year.”

In 2006, LaChapelle abruptly quit Los Angeles. He moved to a “…very isolated part of Hawaii in this forest. It’s off the grid, bio-diesel cars, solar-powered, growing our own food, completely sustainable. I thought ‘OK, I’m a farmer now.'” LaChapelle’s change in path eventually brought him back to his roots. While in Hawaii, a longstanding colleague invited him to shoot for a gallery, which he hadn’t done since his days as a fledgling photographer in New York. “I was really shocked”, LaChapelle recalled. “I’m so known as a commercial artist, a big name as a fashion and celebrity photographer, I didn’t think a gallery will take me seriously. It’s like being reborn; it’s like rebirth; it’s like starting over. It’s back to where I started, where I very first started in galleries when I was a kid. It’s just come full circle.”

The 2019 calendar was a project by American photojournalist Ami Vitale and featured images of six nature art installations aiming to raise awareness of efforts to protect the environment

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People

HAB Land Ltd goes bust – Grand Designs presenter walks away

Kevin McCloud, presenter of Channel 4 TV’s Grand Designs series, fronted money-raising for an eco-property developer, and then resigned as a director 18 months before the company went bust this week.

The picture is still unclear because there is a web of interlocked shareholdings, but many small investors have lost money and McCloud and his colleagues are continuing to trade through different vehicles.

Both building projects in Oxford and Winchester are controlled by two subsidiary companies – HAB at Lovedon Fields Limited and Hab at The Acre Limited – neither of which are part of the proposed liquidation.

‘The directors of these entities continue to explore options to enable these developments to be completed,’ the spokesperson continued.

‘HAB Housing Limited is also unaffected by the liquidation proceedings.’

Mr McCloud is a significant shareholder in the HAB network of companies, remaining a director of HAB Housing and owning 20 per cent of HAB Land’s parent company, BAH Restructuring.

TV star and developer McCloud had already come under fire from a city councillor in Winchester where his project ran into difficulties almost a year ago, as community facilities promised as part of a development are yet to be completed.

That comes as investors in the Happiness Architecture Beauty (HAB) housing venture, launched by the Grand Designs host, voiced frustration at warnings they could lose up to 97% of their cash.

Happiness Architecture Beauty

HAB Land Limited was founded in 2014 to acquire development land for building projects at sites in Oxford and Winchester.

HAB Land Finance plc was subsequently incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the company in 2016, in order to raise finance to fund the real estate activities of HAB Land through Mini Bond Instruments.

*** Did you invest in HAB Land, Hab Housing, or a related company? Do you live in a HAB development? Email news@off-grid.net, call 07971543703***

The first reports of the possible demise of the McCloud empire came from the Hampshire Chronicle, a local paper reporting on broken promises at the Lovedon Fields development in Kings Worthy seven months ago, and from local ward councillor Jackie Porter, cabinet member for built environment and wellbeing at Winchester City Council, who said works were going “very, very slowly,” and were “nowhere near finished.”

“We want to see this site completed. We chose it because it had great public facilities. The residents of Kings Worthy are being let down.

“[Mr McCloud] had good intentions but it was naive. This project was much more complicated than it was meant to be.”

The developer HAB Housing agreed – as part of the planning approval – its location in Eversley Park would double in size. The land would then be given to Kings Worthy Parish Council to protect it from future development.

Chaos in Winchester

The site, off Lovedon Lane in Kings Worthy, was given planning approval in September 2015, and …

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People

Mike Banning’s father lives off the grid

He may be a fictional character, but Mike Banning has a huge following. In the latest movie in the Fallen franchise, Angel has Fallen, hero Mike Banning is reunited with his dad, played by Nick Nolte living in a remote forest in Virginia.

When a well-coordinated drone attack decimates the POTUS’s heavily-armed security detail, Banning’s razor-sharp reflexes once again save the leader of the free world from … well, let’s just say that in the latest instalment in the Fallen franchise, the bad guys are a little closer to home.

Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), who was Speaker of the House in the original film and VP in the sequel, has been promoted to President in Angel Has Fallen.

But its Nick Nolte who steals the film as the woods-living, gun-toting hermit named Clay Banning.

As the surname suggests, he is our hero’s long-estranged father. On this level, Nolte also brings some much-needed emotional depth to the movie.

But it’s the comic side that is worth waiting for. It’s a treat every time Nolte is on the screen. I doubt it will happen but he deserves another Oscar nomination for this role. He’s had three so far — for Prince of Tides, Affliction and Warrior — without a win.

A man of deep integrity, Trumbull is a West Wing kind of president; the sort you wish you had. But after being pulled unconscious from the freezing lake into which he and Banning dive to evade the drone attack, he remains in a coma.

On the basis of damning evidence that links Banning to what appears to be a Russian Government-funded assassination attempt, Trumbull’s hawkish Vice President (Tim Blake Nelson) gears up for WWIII.

Banning’s colleagues also swallow the frame-up story hook, line and sinker. Let’s hope nothing happens to this seasoned operative — presidents may come and go, but without Banning at their side, democracy doesn’t stand a chance.

With the US law enforcement authorities in hot pursuit, Banning sets off across the country to simultaneously clear his name and arrest Armageddon.

The action is fast, furious and without unnecessary frills. The firepower is impressive and the multiple explosions would light even Michael Bay’s fuse.

There’s also an attention-grabbing sequence, in remote forest in Virginia, in which Banning is reunited with the father who abandoned him — a crusty old war vet with a yellowed moustache who lives off the grid and is played by Nick Nolte.

ANgel has fallen ** 1/2 Rating: MA15 + Running time: 121 minutes Director: Ric Roman Waugh Starring: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith – Democracy doesn’t stand a chance without Mike Banning

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People

Thomasin McKenzie interview

Thomasin McKenzie, 19, came to fame as a Hollywood actress playing an off-grid character.

Q: You broke out in last year’s Leave No Trace – trailer, playing a teen who lives off the grid in the Oregon forest. Did it teach you anything about disconnecting?

A: I was banned from using my phone for a couple weeks as preparation for the film, which was eye-opening. I’ve always had a conflict with Instagram—it’s an amazing platform to express yourself, but on the other hand, it’s a trigger for a lot of mental illnesses, constantly comparing yourself to people. I learned it doesn’t deserve all your time and energy.

Q:That Debra Granik film still has a rare 100 percent favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes and earned you awards buzz and your choice of Hollywood roles. How do you pick your projects now?

A:I gravitate toward projects that have a strong message led by talented people with really specific visions.

Q: Who’s on your bucket list to work with?

A: Olivia Colman and Rooney Mara. And I love [director] Jane Campion.

Q: Your father is a director and your mother is an acting coach. Was there ever any doubt that you would go into the family business?

A: My parents always made it clear that acting isn’t as it seems in the media—it’s a hard job, and you’re often very vulnerable. At the beginning, I was acting more for pocket money and time off from school. But when I was 13, I did a film called Consent about rape and the abuse of power in the police force, and it made me realize that acting can be a platform to make a difference.

Thomasin McKenzie spoke with V.F.’s Britt Hennemuth

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People

University boss quits her job to live off-grid

“I was a cognitive psychologist, an academic happily ascending the career ladder,” said Dr Alison Green, head of Scientists Warning.

“I knew about climate change, and I knew that things were looking a bit gloomy, but I hadn’t really acquainted myself with the facts. The alarm bells weren’t ringing. People tend to have faith that those in high places know what they’re doing when it comes to climate change. It’s a trap I fell into myself.
I moved into academic management and got what was effectively my dream job: pro-vice chancellor at Arden University, a campus and distance-learning university based in Coventry. In July 2018, I came across Prof Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation paper, which was going viral online. Here was someone with credibility and a good track record who, having studied the science, was saying that we’re no longer looking at mitigation, we’re looking at adaptation; that societal collapse is inevitable.
Being a vice-chancellor no longer meant anything to me. I gave up my career, and I’m so much happier as a result
People are starting to talk about the kind of spiritual awakening you get in these situations: an “ecophany”. I concluded that banging on about climate change on social media was not enough, and became involved with grassroots activism. Being a vice-chancellor no longer meant anything to me. I gave up my career, and I’m so much happier as a result. Now I talk at conferences and events about the need for urgent action and I have taken part in direct actions with Extinction Rebellion, including the closing of five London bridges last November and speaking in Parliament Square during the April rebellion.
The science shows that societal collapse could be triggered by any one of a number of things, and once triggered, it could happen quite quickly. I suppose I’m being protective towards my four children, aged between 16 and 24, but in the event, I feel I need to be somewhere where I’m growing my own food, living in an eco-house, trying to live off-grid. It would give me some security; I don’t feel secure where I live in Cambridge at the moment – I’m concerned by thoughts like, “What would happen if I turned the tap on and there was no water?”. On our current trajectory, cities will not necessarily be safe places in the future – possibly within my own lifetime, certainly within my children’s.
I am putting my house on the market. My aim is to move to north Wales or Scotland and get a smallholding. I’ve had to think differently when house-hunting: is it energy-efficient? Does it have access to water? Is it above sea level by a certain amount? Where’s the slope facing, so I can grow food. I need to get solar panels up, and a friend has offered some help with a wind turbine. It’s a way …

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People

Steve Miller leaves his island haven

Rocker Steve Miller’s remarkable off-grid retreat in Washington’s San Juan Islands finally sold for $8.5 million. The property was originally listed for $20 million in 2014.

The most recent list price on the 39-acre compound was $9.95 million, and the sale closed in mid-May for about $1.5 million less.

For comparison, Oprah Winfrey paid only $8 million for her 43-acre estate on nearby Orcas Island, so Miller made out OK even though the sale price was a massive reduction.

“It is difficult to really know about the price,” said Tere Foster of Compass, who represented the buyer. “There are very few sales that occur in the San Juan Islands above $7 million. However, the compound did cost more to construct than the purchase price.”

The compound is ideal for your average music mogul or tech titan who wants to get away from it all. Blasted out of rock, the 11,000-square-foot main residence has off-grid capabilities for up to a year.

“The buyer is a former tech executive who was especially drawn to the property’s private 410-foot, deep-water dock, the only one of its magnitude within the San Juan Islands,” according to the listing agents, Dan Gottesman and Sam Chapin of Engel & Völkers Seattle.

The acreage includes hiking trails and views of Friday Harbor, Zen gardens, a Japanese-style teahouse, and a horse pasture.

The property also comes with 300 feet of water frontage, and the deep-water dock can accommodate three yachts.

The main house has three bedrooms and four baths. The basement is currently set up as a recording studio, which could easily be transformed into additional bedrooms or offices. But who’d want to mess with a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s studio?

In addition to the main house, there are eight other structures on the property, including a barn, shop, greenhouse, and caretaker’s accommodations.

“It’s one of the most beautiful properties I’ve ever seen,” says Gottesman. “The woodwork alone, handcrafted by local artisans, is a whole ‘nother level.”

Foster agrees: “The home is beautifully constructed,” she says. “All the woodwork and casement is furniture-quality throughout.”

The home is “less than 2 miles from town, wonderfully private on 36 acres with that 300 feet of waterfront,” she adds.

Perhaps the sale of Miller’s San Juan Islands retreat bodes well for his similar retreat in Ketchum, ID, which has been listed for $16 million since 2017. Its 13 acres include an 8,000-square-foot home, three guest cottages, a 1,600-square-foot art barn, a 4,000-square-foot recording studio, and a 2,700-square-foot archive building.

Miller’s Steve Miller Band is heading out on a national concert tour in mid-June. Fans will be able to relive the glory of smash hits such as “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Take the Money and Run,” and “The Joker.”

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Land

Off-Grid Millionaire AirBnB’s his Hawaii home

Each Christmas tech geek Graham Hill heads to Hawaii. At first he would shack up in a small, dilapidated cabin on Maui and spend afternoons kitesurfing at Ho’okipa beach.

Then he was offered a 2.2-acre plot of land. As founder of LifeEdited, a Manhattan property consultancy selling simple, small-space living, he had no plans to upgrade, he saw an opportunity. He would build an experimental eco house that would be similar to, yet different from, the two small apartments he had created with LifeEdited.

“At first I had no plans for the land,” he says, “but Hawaii is a great place for off-grid living. There’s lots of sun and wind, and where I am in Haiku, a decent amount of rain. It’s also the perfect temperature, so you don’t need heating.” He joined forces with the local architecture and engineering company Hawaii Off-Grid, and spent a year creating a 1,000sq-ft holiday home that is fully sustainable and creates more energy than it uses.

Wafer-thin, almost-invisible solar panels line the roof, lithium batteries in the garage store their energy, and a giant tank in the garden holds up to 20,000 gallons of rainwater. The two bathrooms come with compostable toilets and the whole space is fitted with the same sort of flexible, functional furniture that fills Hill’s micro-apartment in Manhattan.

Three of the four bedrooms feature fold-up beds and can change function; one becomes a games room, another morphs into a film room and the third becomes an office. The 330sq-ft lanai (terrace) is fitted with pop-up tables and loungers that swivel around a dining table.

When pushed to the max, the house can sleep eight and cater for 20, and every room offers views to the ocean and the West Maui Mountains, which shape-shift under ever-changing skies.

Thanks to two internet start-ups, 47-year-old Hill was already a millionaire before he founded LifeEdited in 2010. The first was a web-design company, which he sold in 1998 for $10 million; the second was sustainability website TreeHugger, which was purchased for the same sum in 2007. Featuring everything from how to build a chicken coop to the latest self-driving cars, TreeHugger presents eco issues in millennial language.

“It shows that going green and doing good doesn’t have to be non-profit,” explains Hill, whose mantra, “Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy,” has seen him invited to speak at TED conferences.

It’s new territory. Wind and solar technology is racing aheadEven for Hill, who is also a trained architect, going fully off-grid was a challenge. “It’s new territory. Wind and solar technology is racing ahead and it’s hard to know what to choose. Do you, for example, keep electric water heaters and have solar on the roof? Do you get a massive system that can deal with anything, or a small one with a generator …

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