This Sustainable Life

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593: How I disconnected from the electric grid in Manhattan for 2 weeks (and counting)

Ep. 593

"Your story is truly inspirational": feedback from an attendee.

The government advisory Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board invited me to speak on sustainability leadership Wednesday. I spoke on what led to my experiment going off-grid in Manhattan, two-and-a-half weeks at the time. Here's the video of the presentation, which includes the slides I refer to, though here is the Venn diagram and here is the footprint chart.

Here's the audio for that presentation. It starts a bit slow, but stresses one of my main discoveries, that my method goes beyond shifting your mindset. It leads to a cycle of continual improvement. Looking back, I see the pattern. My challenge to avoid buying packaged food for a week gave me the humility and curiosity to question sacred cows like that flying is good and expect that experimenting will yield results that idle speculation won't.

I describe the difference between living by my values and leading others. I don't think you can lead people to do what you're doing the opposite of. Living by your values is necessary to lead others. Otherwise you don't know what you're talking about.

Then I describe what I did after learning to live without a fridge for most of the year: buying a battery, buying solar panels, testing them, and using them.

Then I describe my results: physical, emotional, skills, my evolving connection to nature, and so on.

Finally I answer audience questions.


My two earlier episodes on going off-grid:

More Episodes

7/29/2022

612: Sebastian Junger, part 1: Humans Thrive on Mutual Dependence, Feeling Needed, But Our Culture Isolates.

Ep. 612
When I wrote up my experiment to live with my apartment off the grid in Manhattan for a month, I looked up what I did the morning I started. My library records show I borrowed and listened to Sebastian's book Tribe, then my browser history shows I watched a ton of videos featuring him. Soon after I read Freedom, watched Restrepo and The Last Patrol.His work makes you question your values, the values of our culture, and what you do about it. In my case, his exploration to why in a culture of material plenty, that according to, say, Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now or The Better Angels of Our Nature, which say life is the best its ever been, in head-to-head competition, people who know civilization choose to live in other places. His books and our conversation clarify and refine the conditions, but the main appeal of not-civilization is feelings of mutual dependence and feeling needed. Our culture isolates. With affluence has come anxiety, depression, and suicide.His research and writing helped me understand why I enjoy each step of polluting less. People from the outside read me as extreme, but America pollutes extremely much. I've reduced over 90 percent, but I still pollute. I'm finding myself not extreme but traditional.Sebastian shares the main points of his books on community, mutual support, feeling needed, war, love, and more versus isolation and anxiety. At the end we talk about how to restore what we've lost and the prospect of changing culture to sustainability, which looks promising.Sebastian's Home PageLots of videos featuring Sebastian