Infrastructure Independence

Anchored by Turn Island

Anchored by Turn Island, Photo by Katie Jones

I’m increasingly feeling that I should focus my blog on promoting a lifestyle of … I’m not really sure what to call it. Cruising? Living aboard? Off-grid tiny houses? ‘Infrastructure independence’ is the best phrase that comes to mind.

The point is this: I believe the root of ‘the problem’ with our world today exists in our infrastructure.

Most people today still live the lifestyle of the industrial age: Income obtained from a single job, paying taxes to a central government. Groceries obtained from a central location, power obtained from a central utility, water from a single source, waste deposited to a single location, and all of it powered through fossil fuels. Society has not made any progress fixing environmental problems because we have not made any progress breaking away from the infrastructure that generates the problems.

The lifestyle I am trying to live is one of infrastructure independence.


Tiny Houses

This is why I am so enamored with the tiny house movement. They encompass all the comforts and luxuries of a modern home, but are infrastructure independent. Most are built to be easily moved and many are built with the off-grid scenario in mind.

Not only do these homes provide an affordable, debt-free home to many, their portability allow the owners to cope with recessions and unemployment. Their inherent economy and mobility mean the owners can move to where the jobs are most lucrative. Their small size and modern, efficient design means they are inexpensive to heat and operate, and produce a small carbon footprint.

Clown Nudibranch

While working on my boat this week, this beautiful orange-and-white clown nudibrach came to say hi.

I am trying to incorporate the efficiencies of tiny homes by turning my boat into a tiny, comfortable home. But because it is a boat, I am able to recreate in it. I am able to find peaceful, natural places with healthy, wild food. Because a significant portion of my electricity and motive power is generated by the wind, I can stay out for extended periods.

It is also my goal to transition to a lifestyle of only working part of the year. Ideally, I’d like to work six to nine months of the year and take three to six months off in the summer. To make this practical, I plan to purchase a large van or small RV in the next year.

Living between an RV and a boat means that I can expand my employment search beyond port towns. It will also allow me to comply with marinas that have rules against liveaboards. Both RV and boat take advantage of the efficiencies exploited by tiny houses.


Is This Activism?

I read a lot lately about non-violent activism. The justification for non-violence is often that the government created after a (violent) revolution perpetuates the same atrocities that led to the revolution in the first place. Non-violent protest hopes to effect social change through communication, raising awareness, and peaceful demonstration.

I am increasingly convinced that both forms of protest are futile because they both focus on a centralized infrastructure. Becoming as self-sufficient as is practical, becoming as infrastructure-independent as possible, is the greatest form of protest and social change that I can think of. Not only are you living by example, you are robbing the machine of the dollars it needs to perpetuate its atrocities.

It is the harmony of infrastructure-independence that captures me. By pursuing this life I am saving money, living healthy, significantly reducing my impact on the environment, and giving the finger to the-powers-that-be. If I achieve my goals, I’ll be able to honestly tell myself that I am not part of ‘the problem’.

Related posts:

Hope Island Marine State Park
Journey to Alaska
Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 6
Comments
5 Responses to “Infrastructure Independence”
  1. Alan says:

    Excellent post, I want both a tiny home and a tiny boat on my tiny dock. 🙂

  2. Matt says:

    Right on brother. I’m on the same track as you. Small sailboat I plan on living on part of the time. Ford Econoline van I can live in and travel in when on land. I’m a little older than you and have picked up some skills that travel well. Being a handyman and street artist for the past 30 years. I think the most important thing about your lifestyle being an activist lifestyle is you’ve got to let others know what you’re doing and that it’s a great alternative to the daily grind most of us live.

  3. Chris I admire you and your life style. Fifty some years ago at age 18 I started out on the same course. I saile a 21 ft sloop and lived fairly free. I fell in love and we had babies so slowly drifed into a landlubber kind of lfe working paying taxes health insurnabce and finall house paymnets. At about age 50 the kids were raised and we sold it all and went off again. WE spent 14 years aboard cruising but finally stopped in Order to take care of My wifes mother. IT has all been good. I am now almost 80 I have a little Albin vega 27 thet we will sail a couple of years and am wanting a bigger live aboard boat. which we may or may not buy. We love the little boat so we will see about that. We are healthy and strong so have every hope of being ful time cruisers again. Your thing of also using an RV is really something for us to think about. Doug

  4. TK says:

    I admire your goal as I’ve been trying to work towards the same. I often get a little discouraged though… any money earned in the US will still be taxed, any communications must still utilize monopoly telecom infrastructure, etc.. how are you going to free yourself of these things? Or is it just a goal to get as close to “free” as possible?

    • Chris says:

      That’s exactly the idea. Being completely free of monopoly infrastructure isn’t as important as reducing one’s consumption. What is the average american consumption (carbon footprint)? As an individual, where does one’s consumption lie relative to that? Reducing consumption reduces our carbon footprint. That should be the focus.

      I hate paying taxes to a country that wastes so much of it on defense. I don’t worry though about the telecom infrastructure. For the moment in history, our telecom infrastructure is what it is. In the near future there will be micro-satelites, and mess network hardware is quickly dropping in price and power requirements. I have a vivid imagination, but even I don’t think I can imagine how the telecom infrastructure will change in the coming decade.

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