61 Days Off the Grid, Posted to Instagram of All Places
Two years ago, Rachel Bujalski took a look around her LA apartment and decided she was done paying ridiculous prices for rent. She moved into a 27-foot sailboat moored in Marina Del Rey and has been living cozily “off the grid” ever since. She’s part of a broader movement to simplify. “[This] marks a point in time when the younger and older generation’s ideas come together – using today’s technology to aid in self-sufficiency,” she says.
On August 1, she hopped into her Toyota Corolla and set off to begin her series Connecting Off-The-Grid. Bujalski is 48 days into a a 61-day road trip to find others who have pulled the plug on modern technology. She’s posting frequent updates on Instagram. Though she planned to travel throughout the state, she’s found it best to go with the flow. “I’m following my instincts of how long to stay in each location. It turns out that at the end of each town I visit the people I meet and photograph end up pointing me in my next direction,” she says.
Bujalski sleeps in her car and rises with the sun. She heads into town to find a coffee shop with Wi-Fi. She maps out markets, thrift stores, and art centers––places where she’s most likely to find off-the-grid residents. Instagram and social media has also been an immense help. Followers can track her whereabouts online, and contact people they know in the next town, making it easier for her to connect with subjects. “So far in almost every location, I’ve found someone to take me under their wing and show me around, which gets me inside access almost immediately and gains their trust right off the bat,” she says.
Of course, there is a certain irony to the photographer using Instagram — and wandering into town to find Wi-Fi — for a series about people living off the grid. And, truth be told, not all of these people are living off the grid in the sense most people think of. They aren’t necessarily tucked away in mountains hours away from everyone or living in campers or tents, panning for gold like modern-day 49ers. But they are choosy about what kind of technology they use.
Bujalski’s view of the term has changed as well, and now sees it all about finding the middle ground. “That’s the whole thing about the new generation. You can live off grid and still be fully connected. It’s the best of both worlds,” she says. “We have a cell phone so you don’t need a land line. You can make the choice of when you want to connect.”
Follow Bujalski’s journey on Instagram until the end of September.