Who We Are

There are three authors here at The Independent Spirit – Debra, Ian, and Joel. Between the three of us, we hope you’ll find an interesting or educational perspective on life off the grid.


Having been born in California shortly after the Summer of Love, it’s no surprise that Debra grew up to become a tree-hugging, animal-loving dirt-worshipper. Her love of food — including growing it, preserving it, cooking it and eating it — is balanced by her keen interest in all things health and fitness related. These interests naturally led her to desire a lifestyle that was low-impact, sustainable, and healthy.

Debra spends her weekdays in Southern AZ, working at a large DotCom and experimenting with permaculture techniques to create a micro-homestead in her condo’s small backyard. Weekends, holidays and vacations, however, are dedicated to building the real thing: an organic, self-sufficient off-grid homestead in the high desert.


Ian has wanted an underground house out in the boonies ever since he started digging a backyard bunker at age 5, but it wasn’t until getting halfway through an expensive Engineering degree that he realized just how much working a job really stinks. So he decided to build the house and use it to minimize his living expenses and obviate the need for a full time job.

Ian tends to dive fanatically into things he finds interesting, and has a gut feeling that something done himself is preferable to something purchased (this habit becomes depressingly labor intensive as times). He is currently employed in the solar power industry, and investing his salary obsessively into finishing his offgrid homestead, so he can retire to that perfect blend of rustic independence and techno-geekitude.


Joel is kind of a…um…well, you might call him a burnout. Once he was Mr. Suburban Man – had a management career and everything. Big house. Shiny car, made in the same decade he was driving it. Swimming pool. Now he’s a smelly old beardo who lives so far out in the desert that the coyotes need GPS just to harass his dogs. He’s a foul-mouthed, gun-waving misanthropist with no redeeming social virtues of any kind.

He keeps attitudes in places most people don’t have places, and is very bad at keeping his mouth closed when he should. I guess it’s no wonder nobody wants him around – though I will say that those rumors he once killed and ate a pair of Massachusetts tourists are almost completely without factual basis. When you go sightseeing in the desert you should be careful not to rile the wildlife. Besides, they were from New York.