One-Room Cabin Off the Grid

At the beginning of 2007, William Powers returned to America after a decade of aid and conservation work in Africa and Latin America. It was a rough homecoming. More than simple culture shock, he felt increasingly disillusioned. Though many of his projects abroad were successful, reducing poverty and protecting local rainforests, a destructive global system hammered at the broader picture. For example, Nobel laureate scientists have predicted that global warming could cause half of the planet’s plant and animal species to become extinct in just a few decades. William's creed — we can learn to live in harmony with each other and nature — was stressed to the breaking point. He landed in New York City and began asking himself a daunting question: How could humanity transition to gentler, more responsible ways of living by replacing attachment to things with deeper relationships to people, nature, and self?

Fortunately, he stumbled upon someone with some clues: Dr. Jackie Benton. The firrst time he met this slight, sixty-year-old physician, she was stroking a honeybee ’s wings in front of her twelve-foot by twelve-foot, off-the-grid home on No Name Creek in North Carolina. She struck William as someone who had achieved self-mastery in these confusing times, but discovering how she ’d done this would prove to be a riddle intricately connected to the house itself.

William wrote a book, Twelve by Twelve, about his time spent living in a one-room cabin off the grid. William has a free talk on Friday from 1-3 pm that is open to the public. Portland State University: 620 Academic and Student Recreation Center. Social Sustainability Colloquium.

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