Nick Rosen | |

Blake Smith wants to builds an eco-village near Abilene West Texas, and he is looking for others to join him. Blake has already moved into a house he built himself. He blogs about it, and has posted some lovely drawings and interesting ideas at

Blake spoke to Off-Grid about his plans: “For now, the idea is to create rent free living areas for people to come and stay as long as they like… the idea being that this free time would enable them to explore their own talents… contribute to the invention of an intensely “glocal” culture… one which is aware of and in communication with the world at large… but focused on smaller community as the main people of which they are a part… of course, this isn’t something I can script… it just sort of may or may not happen… but I want to set up opportunities.
“ Nothing about American suburbia, or sprawl, is lovely to me anymore. I’m not sure if it ever was… it was what I grew up knowing. But when I think back on the times in life when I’ve felt most aware, that is, most susceptible to joy and pain, aesthetic experience, relationships with people etc, I find myself remembering times away from suburbia and all that it implies. I remember life in Oxford… the first time in my life without a car, and learning to love walking and walkability, locally grown foods and local shops. It was three years without a car or a cell phone inside a large Victorian house with about 15 other flatmates… the first real neighbors I’d ever had though I had supposedly grown up in a “neighborhood” in America. I remember my experience at Taliesin West, and the alternative living paradigm it offers to the American grid… small, hand made shelters, shared common spaces, all walkable.
“I remember a Christian youth camp in the northern woods of Wisconsin where, for two weeks out of every summer growing up I experienced life in ancient log cabins in a quieter, gentler society than is typical in pop – American culture, and away from the products sold therein. All of these experiences ( and many others ) have opened me up to new cultures, new ways of life, and I began to realize that some ways of life were generally better than others. Certain cultures are more conducive to healthy human relationships, true economy, and celebration of beauty. I suppose that, as the real product offered by architects and designers is “way of life” ( supported/ encouraged through built infrastructure and products ), the living experiments out on this rural site in west Texas have been my attempt to find a way of life that I believe in near where I grew up. The main idea for me has not been to live off grid, but as this is part of what leads to a liability free existence, living off grid has become an important part of what I do.
A main part of the experiment is to continually reduce the area from which resources are taken to live (to reduce embodied energy ). Partly, I think there is a universal lesson to be shared with anyone anywhere as the human race enters into the post petroleum era over coming decades. The main reason for doing this however is that the reduction of area from which resources are drawn is how local, walkable communities are created – the most economically efficient societies on the planet. Walkable societies tend to have the highest quality of living.

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As a side note: I do not suggest the abandonment of contemporary technology with this process, although, some things will inevitably fall by the wayside, and as always, new, regionally unique technologies will arise to meet the want/need.

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