There are few things so American as the pioneer spirit. Though the days of braving the Oregon Trail are long over, Americans still often seek to find havens of freedom and self-sufficiency.
Unfortunately for one man, however, his “off the grid” lifestyle has earned him scrutiny from government and he is being told that his self-sufficiency is a safety hazard.
Tyler Truitt lives with his girlfriend on two secluded acres in Alabama. They are not connected to any utilities and live a simple life “off the grid” with solar panels and rainwater collection. However, authorities have condemned his home and are threatening Truitt with arrest if he does not comply with their demands that he leave.
Truitt is a military veteran and has not taken the threat lying down. “We live out here off the grid, 100 percent self-sustaining,” the veteran explained. “So I basically made all my utilities. I have my solar panels, I have my rainwater collection and stuff.”
Truitt says that he is taking a stand. “You have to stand up for what you believe in. They could come out here today if they wanted to and take us to jail for trespassing, if that’s what they want to call it… that’d be fine with me. I’ll still come back the next day and the next day and the next day because it’s my home and because I live here. Where else am I supposed to go, really?”
Truitt says he’s a patriot who fought to defend the Constitution and the inherent freedom it guarantees. “Give people the most liberty and personal liberty you can afford to give them without infringing on other people’s rights,” he stated. “I just don’t see how we’re hurting anyone by being here.”
The City of Huntsville claims that they are threatening Truitt out of a sense of “public safety” and defend the statutes they claim entitles them to bully the veteran. In a release, city officials claimed:
“[T]he purpose behind these requirements is public safety. This includes ensuring that occupants of a residential dwelling have safe, potable, running water, and electricity, particularly in the wintertime. These are public safety regulations, regardless of how (they are) perceived by some members of the public. The City has posted the property as “Unsafe” for this reason. The absence of a connection to a sanitary sewer system (whether a septic system or sanitary sewer outfall line connected, ultimately, to a treatment facility, is not only a health and safety issue for the occupants, it’s a health and safety issue for others who may live around him/her. There are both benefits to be obtained, and compromises to be made, when people choose to live in an urban community.”
Cities must have rules and codes by which citizens must abide. However, these restrictions must be balanced against a premise of harm. What, exactly, is Truitt doing that is so harmful to himself and others? The city maintains that Truitt’s solar panels do not provide adequate resources for occupants. Truitt disagrees.
“I have looked and didn’t see anything (in Huntsville’s Code of Ordinances) which says I’m not allowed to use off-grid utilities,” said Truitt. “They claim that it’s not sufficient to use off-grid utilities because it’s not a ‘permanent’ source of power.”
“Until they can prove that the sun is not going to come up tomorrow and give me light, I would say their argument is foolish,” Truitt explained.
While indoor plumbing is certainly a welcomed addition to modern society, it should be noted that for 99.99% of human history, outhouses served as the primary method of waste disposal.
Somehow, mankind survived. I think the citizens of Huntsville will, too.