Strange Bedfellows: My Fascination with OffTheGridNews
When my wife and I purchased our home several years ago, we found ourselves faced with a multitude of immediate and long-term repairs and projects. Our new home was over a century old with beautiful interior flourishes and the proverbial “good bones.” Although we lived in a lovely remodeled apartment during the first three years of our marriage, this was our first true home. Building a home for our shared future invigorated and inspired us.
One of our first projects was to transform the weedy, hard dirt patch behind our house into a proper backyard. I quickly discovered my latent passion for gardening, likely inherited from my paternal grandmother. I read books, websites, and blogs about gardening, homesteading, and simple living. The long recent recession and the evisceration of the middle class have led to a renewed interest in such hobbies and skills throughout America. We’re rediscovering our grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ home economics and tricks for stretching the budget and the larder.
My interests in gardening and simple living dovetail with natural foods, health, and a distrust of global corporations. To put it mildly, I find myself uncomfortable with the constant barrage of advertising and media surrounding us and the steady praise of consumption in our society. I try to lead a simple life. Just like every mortal, I am a bundle of contractions, failings, and hypocrisies. Nonetheless, my research included watching documentaries about the Amish, delving into novels set in a candy-coated future after technological collapse, and perusing websites spinning comical predictions and conspiracy theories.
Nearly every day, I check OffTheGridNews.com, a site that describes itself as an “independent, weekly email newsletter and website that is crammed full of practical information on living and surviving off the grid. Advice you’ll never hear from the mainstream media.”
OffTheGridNews is a blend of a doomer, prepper, and anti-government thinking seasoned with evangelical Christian belief. OffTheGridNews also publishes engaging, informative, and well-written articles on energy conservation, gardening, food preservation, alternative medicine, and healthy living. You might find an article extolling the values of (machine) gun ownership next to a piece on seven ways to preserve tomatoes. The site’s latest two podcasts discussed Depression-era lessons for the home and the (erroneous) application of the separation of church and state.
OffTheGridNews also voices a hostility toward environmentalism and climate change initiatives. A passion for natural living; clean, non-GMO, and local foods; and alternative medicine seems to be a constant in certain libertarian and arch-conservative circles. This itself does not pique my curiosity; however, these same outlets also express disdain for the environment and science. This is a philosophical inconsistency or contradiction that has long puzzled me. How can one work his or her own tiny plot of land; labor over plants, fruits, and vegetables; feel the soil beneath his or her hands, yet not love, respect, and fear nature?
Reading OffTheGridNews reveals the intersections where very different worldviews might connect and find common interests. We live in a hyper-partisan era in American politics and society. Analyzing this feature of our current life is well beyond the scope or aim of this writing. Geographically, we are sorting ourselves along political lines, thus, fewer of us encounter individuals in our neighborhoods or workplaces with different political or social views. These invariably leads to viewing those espousing opposing and foreign viewpoints as caricatures or outright villains. OffTheGridNews demonstrated to me the value of reading a website at odds with my belief system. Through this site, I found one of those intersections. Such intersections allow for the building of political coalitions.
OffTheGridNews is a quirky, informative website if you’re looking for insights on taming your runaway squash vines, the medicinal virtues of apple cider vinegar, and the imminent threats to our national power grid. Although I vehemently disagree with its political flavor, I find myself typing OffTheGridNews.com each and every day.