Discover more from Acorn Off-Grid
Off-Grid October: The big puzzle
Our 2023/2024 project to form a baseline off-grid blueprint
Beginning in early 2023 our team at Acorn Land Labs began publishing online video content about circular systems, sustainable practices, permaculture concepts, composting systems, local living, off-grid ideas, black soldier flies, solar ovens, organic produce, clean energy systems and many other concepts within this eco-tech space.
All of these circular systems are puzzle pieces to a larger puzzle. Circular systems are sustainable systems with outputs that flow as inputs into other circular systems. The methane digester is a key puzzle piece. The solar panels, composting piles, rainwater catchment, raised beds, and solar ovens are all puzzle pieces. Liquid organic fertilizer, free range chickens, efficient tiny homes, and composting toilets are also puzzle pieces.
If these are all puzzle pieces, what is the larger puzzle? ( keep on reading )
Over the past 6 months, we’ve been thrilled to have over 1.2 million fans join us to learn more about these sustainable, off-grid puzzle pieces on Youtube, Tiktok, Instagram, and Facebook. People intuitively understand that these are some promising and powerful concepts…
For the past three months, our team has been hard at work designing our “Land Lab Simulator.” This web app is a tool allowing anyone to rapidly drag-and-drop these ‘off grid puzzle pieces’ in a virtual simulation. As you drag-and-drop systems, you steadily meet the needs of X number of humans living within your virtual design. While this feels like a game, it’s actually a planning and learning tool. As you add gardens, chickens, a yurt, methane digesters, rainwater catchment, and other puzzle pieces you see that your ‘X humans’ 10 key needs are steadily moving from being 0% to 100% met. Your goal is to add appropriate systems that work in your environment to meet a majority of your human needs for water, food, energy/transportation, shelter and sanitation. These are our big 5 physiological needs. You could say these are the big 5 sections of ‘the puzzle’.
So, once again, what is the larger puzzle?
Freedom through sustainable living systems to meet more of our needs directly.
The puzzle we’re building is a new type of freedom in our modern world. It’s also an old type of freedom from ages past. The puzzle is being connected to where much of our water, food, energy, shelter and sanitation come from. These actions are opting out of many of today’s massive, centralized systems in favor of smaller, decentralized, human-scale systems. Ensuring that real value is created, built, and enjoyed locally is the goal.
This puzzle is a new economic model to be more local, more circular, and more rooted within our own environment. This is the puzzle. The circular economy will be built on these systems. The puzzle is a large shift away from the hyper-global, and back to the local. That said, both the global and the local can exist together and support each other. Here in the USA, I enjoy coffee from Honduras, spices from India, and specialty foods from Asia. However, it’s time to shift away from hyper-global everything, and reclaim more local things. This line of thinking applies to communities the world over. Our communities should grow much more of what we eat, so we know our food ways are not causing harm to others. Our neighbors and families should make more of the objects & tools we use, so we know people are being treated well. Our energy should be carefully harnessed more locally, so that we ensure it’s not poisoning our waters and air. Our sanitation systems should build soil locally, rather than polluting distant lands. We need to restore balance to the systems that provide our material needs.
Beyond addressing the fracturing modern systems for producing many of our needs, our relationship to earning a living to purchase these needs is very broken. The world of work and our economic systems needs a close look.
Work for many people is broken. Our economic models are pumping wealth from the lower and middle classes into the upper echelons at dizzying speeds. The recent miracle of a global middle class is looking like a sudden mirage. When left unaddressed, this dynamic has always historically ended in wars, famines, revolts, and human suffering.
Many people want to work hard, but they don’t want to be taken advantage of for the benefit of a select few. Human needs for a good life can be quite simple, and well met, from local systems, if the education, techniques, and technology are available. Our global financial systems are barreling towards a massive reset. The reserve currency is devaluing, and the entire system is driven by massive debt and money printing. Historically, this only ends with various forms of collapse. This is nothing new, and nothing to be unduly afraid of. It’s simply a cycle of history that most people have ignored. It should be treated seriously, and we will all fare better by properly preparing for our rapidly changing world. There could be a new golden age on the other side of these stormy decades ahead. There are great opportunities for reinvention in the midst of crisis.
Green, small-scale technology and simple lifestyle changes hold many of the answers for living well in a rapidly changing world. This is our puzzle. This is the Acorn Land Lab mission.
Giant corporations have an iron grip on almost all of our food, media, utilities, data, medicine, transportation, entertainment and increasingly housing. Young people will be renters & subscribers for life across all products (including housing and transportation). This is what massive corporations and wall street want. This is not what most young people want.
College degrees are already subscription services disguised as loans and interest. Between education, transportation, housing, industrial food, medicine, and every other facet of western life, young people are entering a hyper-controlled system of life designed by corporations for profit alone. Profit is not bad at all, but if it’s the only yardstick of measure the system will implode. This is happening now. We have moved beyond a capitalist environment to a hyper-capitalist world where everything from your home to your dating life (through dating apps) is speculated on for profit-motives. This is unsettling to say the least. Polarized politics and generational spats between Boomers, Millennials and Generation Z only inflame tensions. People are worried and angry and attacking each other instead of working on building solutions together.
Our team thinks many these issues can be solved by ‘the big puzzle’. This is not a silver bullet, but we do think these systems can help many people in many places. Every puzzle piece is a solution. How do we humans reclaim our basic needs locally? How can we form local resilience, independence, autonomy, and freedom through innovative systems? Sustainability is also an incredible by-product of this way of life.
In a nutshell, our vision for the big puzzle was clearly laid out in our first article we wrote about The Acorn Home. The need for a strong community around this home has been articulated here in our article on Rebuilding Community. None of this is earth-shattering rocket science. It’s old fashioned in many ways. It’s how humans crave to live.
The big puzzle is simply this: off-grid living systems, sustainable homes, skilled people, local food systems & gardens, clean local energy, strong families and strong communities.
The vision of the big puzzle should be clear now.
We understand why we need change: we can see the harmful modern systems and dynamics we are trying to address.
We understand the vision of solutions: sustainable home blueprints for producing many basic needs along with strong local communities that provide for more of our basic needs locally.
Now, how do we clearly illustrate HOW to move from here to there? How do we show others how to build this ‘off-grid puzzle’, piece by piece?
Many others have shared their own paths to this lifestyle: David Holmgren, Ted Trainer, Sepp Holzer, Joel Salatin, Paul Wheaton, and Jack Dody to name a few…
Our team is trying to help magnify & amplify these ideas, methods & technologies to a huge number of people.
Off-Grid October is our concept to make these ideas accessible through our story.
Building the entire vision is the puzzle. Each one of the circular systems is a puzzle piece.
Off-Grid October is our new annual series to help create and share stories illustrating how anyone can begin their journey to adopt new habits, learn about new systems, and begin to create their own lifestyle built around freedom and resilience through off-grid systems.
For Off-Grid October 2023 (and the 6 months following October into 2024), we’ll be featuring two brothers building their first off-grid micro-homestead from the ground up.
This will be a 6-month video project. Every week, we’ll record what is planned, built, and experienced as this off-grid micro-homestead is formed.
We have a semi-rural 7 acre site situated on a river for this micro-homestead. A dose of reality: The 7 acres had been clear-cut and logged about 10 years ago, and needs a lot of love and restoration. The land was damaged. The river is also one of the more endangered rivers in America from upstream, big-city pollution. This land & river needs care and restoration. Much of America does.
Our goal is to illustrate a path that others can emulate and follow to transition to off-grid living & increased freedom. We’ll begin with the two brothers installing a simple, effective living system to provide a base to work out of. This might be a tent, RV, or a basic shed / cabin.
Over the course of the 6 months, we’ll chronicle the evolution of this micro-homestead:
Using the land lab simulator to plan the build
Building a durable micro-cabin with new and reclaimed materials
Adding solar panels & methane digesters
Using solar ovens & passive heating
Improving and securing parts of the land for chickens and gardens
Installing raised beds and other local food systems
Building ponds for both added biodiversity and fish
Tracking expenses & project costs
Connecting with local farmers for other needed foods
Building a regular schedule for tasks & projects
Balancing the off-grid build with regular life
Documenting challenges and tips for others
Increasing pollinator spaces and aiding local biodiversity
Sharing the good and the bad of the journey along the way
Our goal is to give our followers and many other people a vision for how they too could create a new off-grid lifestyle. Step-by-step, and system-by-system.
This lifestyle takes a great deal of research upfront, and many new skills have to be built and practiced. However, this is one of the biggest appeals to me about this way of living. Our goal is to collect, organized, refine and then share the research needed to make this lifestyle a reality. We’ve been working hard to fund this aspect of the work to save other people thousands of hours of work and research. We’re working to build an accessible knowledge-base.
Growing food, collecting water, building shelter, harnessing power, handling green sanitation is all challenging. But it is all worthwhile.
Our aim is to simplify this process for others. The land lab simulator is meant to help others rapidly explore, discover, and blueprint their own off-grid builds.
Our video content is meant to rapidly educate others about new systems and concepts they might have never heard of.
Our future courses and books are meant to provide deeper information and guidance for our followers & fans.
And finally, our online community will provide a place for people to share their wins, share their challenges, ask questions, and gain inspiration from others on similar journeys.
We’re excited to plan, build, film, and share our first Off-Grid October series with you.
Hopefully this 6 month Off-Grid October saga will help illustrate that with proper research, planning, and execution, many people can begin to form a new lifestyle built around freedom with a strong connection to the natural world they are part of.
Our mission at Acorn Land Labs is to share the ideas, methods, tools & concepts needed for people to leverage off-grid systems to live more freely and affordably. Go build something!
🎥 Off-Grid Systems Video Course - 10 hour off-grid systems course
📗 Acorn Off-Grid Home eBook - 50 key off-grid systems we use for living simply
🎧 Acorn Off-Grid Audiobook - 50 key off-grid systems we use for living simply
📚 Acorn Off-Grid Systems Paperback / Hardback Editions - buy on Amazon
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