Saturday, June 16, 2012

Off the Grid and On the Road with One Radical Grandma

Posted by Chandra Ward, ATLANTA, GA -- Living off the grid typically refers to a lifestyle without electricity, one using alternative energy sources. This phrase also refers more broadly to a lifestyle detached from as much dependency as possible on our late-stage capitalist system -- for example through rural and urban homesteading. It can also mean living and traveling in a vegetable oil-fueled, solar-powered statement of a truck like Xan.

I met this 60 something year-old grandmother, who describes herself as a radical lesbian feminist, at a recent women’s writing conference just south of Atlanta.  But before meeting her, I met her truck.  It was an Isuzu commercial brand that had been “tricked out” in a very radical but socially-conscious way.  As I circled the truck I saw proclamations of resistance against Monsanto, patriarchy, war (written in both Spanish and English), as well as declarations for an end to racism, poverty, police brutality, and violence against women and children. The truck was essentially a mobile billboard of resistance run on biodiesel fuel, with modest but homey living quarters powered by roof-top solar panels. She told me that the converted truck was the product of some resourceful work done by herself and another like-minded friend with many materials others might consider trash. Xan had just driven from California to Georgia. Given the anti-establishment slogans scrawled all over her truck and the extent of her travels (all across the Americas), I asked Xan if she gets pulled over a lot. She said she used to, but not anymore. 

Xan made me think about how our lives -- at any age -- are an unlimited world of non-establishment possibilities. Xan is now one of my heroes -- and I hope there are many more fearless, feminist, and free-spirited people like her out there. Xan left Atlanta to return to California about two weeks ago with her three year-old grandson. Hopefully she will send me some snail mail updates about her new off-the-grid and on-the-road adventures.

Chandra Ward is the Assistant Editor of Social Shutter and a Doctoral student in Sociology at Georgia State University. She can be reached at


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