There was a time in America — and not so long ago — when there was no “grid,” at least for those who lived outside of urban centers. To live self-sufficiently in rural areas was the rule, rather than the exception. People knew how to survive without electricity, running water, sewage systems or any other services provided by municipalities or power companies. They used wood for heat and kerosene for light; they dug wells, built outhouses, raised cows and chickens, grew their own food. That style of living may seem far in the past for most of us, but a growing number of people have realized that off-the-grid living may not only represent a happier and healthier existence — it may also be the key to survival when disaster strikes.

The idea of off-grid living, however, seems a threat to some people. Power companies and others who have a vested interest in keeping folks dependent and plugged in are doing their best to make it difficult, if not impossible, to return to a self-reliant way of life. In fact, in many places, off-grid living has been all but criminalized. Take, for instance, Costilla County, Colorado, one of the least populated counties in the state and an area where hundreds of people have been purchasing land and attempting to successfully live off-grid. Off-grid homesteaders are facing harassment from county authorities who make things difficult for anyone who dares to pursue a self-reliant lifestyle. CONTINUE