Here's John's story:
Welcome to the Southwest Texas Alternative Energy And Sustainable Living Field Laboratory!
Have you ever thought to yourself, " How would I do it if I had it to do all over again?" Usually this thought only pops into your head when you are about to die or your life is in ruin or perhaps during a midlife crisis where family and job stress suddenly takes its toll. This feeling is usually accompanied by mounting debt and an overwhelming feeling of being trapped in the life you have chosen. Tension in the world, an unstable economy, high fuel prices, and mind numbing popular culture may also add to this feeling of utter futility. For me, it was a little bit of all of the above but the real tipping point was the death of my father last year. That made me sit down and take a serious look at where my path has led me and how I could best proceed to live a fulfilling life and honor his memory.
Several years ago I began experimenting with alternative energy. I feel that the technology today has advanced enough and the costs have dropped to the point where just about anyone can make the move to off the grid living. This just happened to coincide with discovering accounts of pioneer life of some of my relatives from over 100 years ago. Their lives were difficult back then, but I sensed a feeling of great joy and accomplishment in overcoming hardship - where hard work payed off and living life was a fulfilling experience. I began to envision my life as a pioneer in the 21st century, and have chosen to follow that path.
In taking inventory of my life to this point in time, I believe that over the years I have picked up just the right skills and mentality to live my dream of how I would do it if I had it to do all over again. I suddenly found myself at the perfect point in my lifetime to go for that dream. Rather than spend the rest of my life busting my ass so I can afford all the modern, pre-packaged conveniences that our "advanced" society provides - I am putting that energy into providing for all my own needs. To quote some new friends of mine who have also chosen this lifestyle,
" Every day, we get up, have coffee with the early morning, do chores, then get on with whatever project we have going… there’s often a choice. We go to bed tired, but very happy and peaceful."
I began my journey in December 2007. Along for the ride was my trusty old dog, Goldie. She was with me at the beginning of construction out here in the desert - my constant companion. At 17 years of age, she had multiple health issues and finally had to be put down in March. She was a great pal and a real trouper. Her favorite pastimes here in the desert were sleeping in the shade, constantly keeping me within eye site when awake, and eating coyote poop. Goldie is buried out here on the property and I hope that when GoogleEarth updates the satellite photo of my area, you will be able to spot the pyramid that marks her grave.
the Field Lab blog by John Wells
John has an artists eye in everything he sees. As a photographer his images capture a magical world he has created. check out his lovely postcards.
Need just a little bit of what wide open space looks like?
When the allure of cramped apartment living has worn off, when you've been bumped one too many times from texting pedestrians, and grimy post winter potholed NYC streets is just too much to bear, check out John's live webcam
Penelope Green of the NY Times traveled to visit John and published his story in last weeks NY Times Home section. I love the idea that John lives quietly with 500k+ virtual visitors, living through his eyes and seeing how one man decided he could change his life and create a magnificent happy and peaceful world. He blogged about me too.