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Arts & Entertainment

Learning to live off the grid, one donation at a time

Crowdfunding is a relatively new term that has crashed the public vernacular in recent years. Defined on Wikipedia as “the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organization,” crowdfunding’s growing popularity comes thanks to websites like Kickstarter, which recently announced that it has helped generated pledges of $261 million to a dizzying array of causes and projects (of the 60,786 projects launched on Kickstarter, 44% have been successfully funded).

For documentary filmmaker and author Nick Rosen, Kickstarter is where he’s raising money to create “Off the Grid and on the Cloud,” a proposed series of short films based on people successfully living “off the grid,” which means “supplying your own power and water, and managing your own waste,” Rosen explained on his Kickstarter page.

“Yes, the series visits families who have dispensed with electricity altogether,” the pitch continued, “but most off-gridders live as comfortably as the rest of society, at a fraction of the cost. Using new media and new mobile gadgets is a key part of the lifestyle - the tips and tricks you will learn through the series can benefit anyone who wants to step away from the grid, whether for a weekend or a year or the rest of your life.

“But it’s not about cutting yourself off. That's where ‘the cloud’ comes in,” Rosen assured for those who can’t bear the thought of not having access to the vast array of digital information. “The families and communities in the series still have their new media, their music, their work-life if they want it, via the dongle or the smartphone or even the TV in some cases, whether at the local library or cybercafe or via their own equipment.”

Rosen is looking to raise $40,000 to create a dozen 6-8 minute clips he envisions as “not as a piece of entertainment but as a user's guide.” At each level of donations, supporters can receive a special premium, ranging from a personal thank-you note at $25 to a co-producer credit at $5,000 or more. He’s also looking for more “off the grid” stories to add to his project (submit videos here). 

 “Everywhere I go people want to live off the grid, to free themselves from the clutches of The Man and from consumer society,” Rosen concurred in his pitch. “But they don't know where to start, or how to start. There are legal problems, technical problems, and financial issues, not to mention physical discomfort. All these obstacles will be confronted and settled by the series. This easy introduction will show you eight or more families, communities and individuals who have already made the move, exactly how they live, and what it took to get there."