What Does “Off the Grid” Mean to Ripples?

There are at least 8 accepted definitions of “grid” and “off-grid.”

If you’re not sure which definitions Ripples operates under, it can get confusing!  One reader asks, “Why are you planning to use internet and social media if you’re going off-grid? Isn’t that hypocritical?” Here is our answer.

Definition of electricity “grid” from FreeDictionary.com and Dictionary.com

(Note that wireless or satellite internet is not considered a grid-based utility for the majority of users, although this may become controversial.)

  1. “An interconnected system for the distribution of electricity or electromagnetic signals over a wide area, especially a network of high-tension cables and power stations.”
  2. “A system of electrical distribution serving a large area, especially by means of high-tension lines.”

Definitions of Off-Grid from Urban Dictionary that DO NOT apply to Ripples –

  1. “Unrecorded, untraceable through normal means.” Amish people live off the grid.
  2. “The term for a person who is not on a social networking site.”
  3. “One who disdains all recordable common forms of commerce, such as eschewing any form of credit extension, banking services or reportable payroll activities, using only cash so as to avoid any traceable transactions.”
  4. “Subscribing to AT&T wireless service in New York City or San Francisco.” Just got my new iPhone and AT&T service… I’ve decided to go off the grid.

Definitions that DO apply to Ripples –

  1. “Living without using the services of public or private utility companies (grids) such as electric, gas, or water, by generating and providing for one’s needs such as by using solar power, etc.” Bob lived off the grid in his rustic cabin in the mountains, where he provided for all his own means.
  2. “Not using utilities such as water or electricity.”
Photo Credit: Jerry Landrum

Photo Credit: Jerry Landrum

Other common associations with “off the grid” include illegal distilleries or drug labs / marijuana farms (we don’t drink alcohol and have never tried drugs, and Ripples will continue to be an alcohol and drug-free facility). Another misconception is that all people who live off-grid are religious (Amish) or ignorant (rednecks); however, Ripples is building a secular educational center that will welcome people from all religious and non-religious backgrounds to collaborate on solutions to global problems. Among many other ideas commonly held about country dwellers is the assumption that country folk need land for hunting and 4wheeling, snowmobile riding and other pursuits which are common practices but won’t be part of Ripples because one of our primary goals is to protect habitat for native plants and wildlife, respecting the land and restricting development.

So, again, Ripples is trying to go off-grid in order to avoid using unsustainable utility services, but not in order to disconnect from the internet or the world. We believe that living off-grid is not for everyone, and especially support urban areas using both grid and on-site generated power in ways that are more sustainable. We think going off-grid is the best choice for us because of our home design which makes it exciting for visitors to our educational center, as a demo for alternative sources of utilities that others can see in action for themselves as they decide the best option for their location.

Finally, and most importantly, even if we can’t get off the grid in our first year living at Ripples educational center, or even if we never officially get off the grid at all (such as always relying on a backup source of water) our purpose is not to protest the grid and check out from reality. Our goal is to inspire the world to change from unsustainable to sustainable, and do whatever is within our power to model our home and lifestyle in a transparent way that empowers others to pick and choose what works for them as they try to make a difference, too.

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