The Sportsman Channel gave us a pre-July 4th double header of two new episodes of America Unplugged to celebrate Independence Day, 2014. Host Cade Courtley, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, introduced us to two men seeking to live the freedom of a self reliant lifestyle. First up was Mark Patrick of Alabama who is a marvel at improvisation, making his own solar panels and even a cool hydro-electric turbine from scrap. Then we had Arvo Thompson whom resides in the high altitudes of northern New Mexico. Arvo unplugged himself from ′The System′ some 15 years ago, practicing Perma-Culture, making maximum use out of everything, including bio-waste. So let us get to know these two gentlemen a bit more…

america unplugged living off the grid

Mark Patrick lives in rural Alabama where he practices his trade of welding and building from his 13 acre property. Along with a running stream and a good stand of forest, Mark gardens and raises chickens. He is no fan of Big Government, nor Big Business, and believes that they will stage a crisis causing mass chaos. Living off the grid has improved his health as he now eats a mostly organic, chemical-free vegetarian diet, giving him more energy and freeing him from medication. Mark can make just about anything from scrap materials, including tomahawks and a hydro-electric turbine. He also produces and sells How-To videos over the Internet on building photo-voltaic solar panels and pole mounts for them. Mark′s popularity for these instructive videos even once earned him a visit from the leader of an African nation who wanted to learn more about Mark′s construction methods.

In the high desert and mountains of northern New Mexico, we find Arvo Thompson. Born in Germany, Arvo has always loved the outdoors and has traveled the world, settling down eventually in the USA. Arvo likes people but prefers isolation, his neighbors are miles away and the closest grocery store is 28 miles from his ′compound′. But that doesn′t bother Arvo as he grows plenty of cabbage and kale, which can handle the climate of his mountain retreat. Along with raising chickens and goats, plus hunting, Arvo′s food needs are satisfied with one exception, he still has to buy his beer! Using the methods of Perma-Culture, Arvo uses and recycles practically everything, including waste water from his toilet and shower. With solar arrays and a wind turbine, he produces his own electricity and heats his home using the Sun as well, which has never raised its rates. Arvo even makes his own bricks using a hand-powered brick-maker that compresses with a pressure of 12,000 pounds. His self-reliant lifestyle is so well managed that he only need about $6,000 per year to cover expenses. Arvo believes that ′The System′ will one day collapse due to overpopulation and as long as he has the Sun, he will survive.

So thank you Sportsman Channel for airing two new episodes of America Unplugged as we celebrate Independence Day 2014 this Fourth of July. Just as our Founding Fathers declared their independence in 1776, so too have Mark Patrick and Arvo Thompson. Both men are driven to be self reliant as they love the freedom it provides. They have made living off the grid a lifestyle. As Mark puts it, ″If we live free, we′ll be civilized.″ Oh, how true, Mark!