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Baby Boomers are Living Off The Grid, Using Alternative Energy, and Building Strawbale Houses

Aug 17, 2007
There is a lot to be said for the new crop of environmental-friendly, retiring Baby Boomers that are refusing the canned retirement solutions that are out there aplenty. Many have had to live in the cities that created their employment...complete with smog and crime. Years have gone by, the kids have been protected as much as possible in gated communities and the day has finally dawned when it's time to take a look at "what's next."

The idea of travel that so held the attention of their elders has less appeal to our Baby Boomers. Cruise ship horror stories and the risks that have become part of RVing have taken the shine off of what their parents were satisfied with. Also, many have traveled extensively in their work and have added expensive vacations to far away places with strange sounding names to the mix.

Freedom doesn't even have the draw that it had for earlier generations. Many Baby Boomers have been connected with web-oriented businesses and have been able to work at home some of the time, following their own pace. This usually meant longer hours for most of them, but more personal freedom was involved.

As a result this new breed wants to get the heck out of Dodge and do some kind of physical work. That's right, they don't want to be taken care of or sit around the campfire, they want to address the challenges that correspond with their ideals.

Peace and quiet rate high on many Baby Boomers' lists of priorities. Living more simply calls to them. "Off the grid" was not a phrase most of us were familiar with even ten years ago. If we had heard it, it would have been with fear and loathing that we would have considered living without being connected to a reliable power source. However, these up and coming retirees are often extremely interested in solar panels and battery banks. Conservation and personal independence rank high.

In addition, unique designs for homes that circumvent the need for central heating and air conditioning are coming to the fore. The strawbale house is a wonder in temperature economy. Thick walls of dry bales of straw are covered with a "skin". The one I recently viewed was plastered with a mixture of adobe mud and cement. Contractors and architects are getting on the bandwagon as this trend spreads. Books and seminars on strawbale building are under heavy demand.

And then there are the Earth Ships. These are energy-efficient homes dug into hillsides and constructed with great care to offer shelter without messing with the environment. The one I visited looked amazingly cozy.

Our Baby Boomers want a new kind of challenge and most of them are extending it into organic gardening, another science that offers them simplicity and increased wellness. They want to grow what they eat to a great extent. There's usually plenty of room to do this because they buy acreage not a lot. This movement toward healthy living isn't carefree but that's not what most of them are about. They are willing to work long and hard.

You will find, in their strange residences, battery-run, lap top computers! After all, email, like life, must go on! Boomers are making sure that the things that matter to them are included. It's never been about denial. For lack of a better description, I would call their evolving ethic "creating a challenging simplicity."

If you get a chance to read up on this movement and/or have an opportunity to visit someone who is immersed in it, don't pass it up. Rome is being rebuilt, yet again.
About the Author
Luise Volta's life has included careers in nursing, teaching pre-school, interior design, Real Estate sales, insurance adjusting, and dairy herd testing. Visit for Home and Garden.
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