Thinking about going rural? Here is a blueprint on how to homestead while still taking zoom meetings
This is a stream of consciousness.... enjoy!
For the past two weeks, I’ve been living offgrid in Wonder Valley, 5 min from Joshua Tree National Park. It’s 9 hrs from my apartment in Oakland in the Bay Area. I’m working remotely on my devices and joining zoom video meetings.
It’s been great to be here: so much more relaxing than being in a city surrounded by people who might have Covid-19.
I feel very fortunate that my bf already had this land, and we were already designing and building the second tiny house together. We also got a container to put on the property so that we could secure out equipment.
It’s peaceful out here. There are no lines at grocery stores. It’s easy to practice social distancing on raw land, and neighbors a ¼ mile away. Luckily, our neighbors have a well and were willing to let us run a hose to our property, as well as a power extension cord. With power and water, albeit at a minimum level, staying here is sustainable.
I visited this property back in January to help my boyfriend build tiny houses. There are two tiny houses that are both about 80% done.
I’ve put some thought into what it would take to create another homestead property from scratch. It takes three things:
Homesteading (stream of consciousness):
Around Joshua Tree and Twenty Nine Palms, It’s possible to get more than an acre, with no utilities, for under $10k. It typically takes about 30 days to finalize a real estate transaction, but with cash, it could be done faster. The extra cheap properties can be pretty far out and most likely are only accessible by dirt roads. Not all dirt roads are made the same, so ask the listing agent about the road quality.
Ironically, land in Joshua Tree and further east to Twentynine Palms and Wonder Valley, do not have Joshua Trees. Much more of the land to the west and north has Joshua Trees, from Yucca Valley up to Landers. The further east and north you go, the land becomes more basic and generally only has scrub bushes. With water, anything will grow. The foliage is only limited by water. When a property has water, there are generally big trees and plants surrounding it. Grey water will also enable plant growth.
Basic tent, van, or adapt a shed for a bed setup
My bf got a 2019 Ram ProMaster 2500 high top in Arizona for $20k in January. The high top means that we can stand up straight in it. It’s a big deal for back health. We haven’t had a chance to build it out to a gorgeous VanLife van, but we spend $100 on a very basic functional conversion. We have black and yellow storage boxes plus some trimmed plywood as a platform for a full-size bed. We used the remnant of the fancy plywood (a $35 1in sanded plywood 4ft by 8ft board) to create a table, which is supported by more storage boxes. We already had a foldable mattress from Ikea, but Amazon as a memory foam mattress for under $200. We also purchased handing shoe racks from Ikea as convenient storage and hung the racks from the ceiling. It was a cheap build-out hack!
We use the van for shelter and transportation. If you have another vehicle, but it’s not big enough to sleep in, a bell tent, will do well. Amazon has them for $400-$600. On our property, we made tent platforms with reclaimed pallets and cheap plywood. The platform can be used as a deck or you could put the tent on it. We finished the plywood with
There are sheds that are a good basic structures from $500-$2,000 at Home Depot or Amazon.
Another option is Jamaica Cottages, but you’d have to wait for delivery and then build the structure.
Other prefab structures are actually way more expensive than you think. The cool basic prefab studios or 1-bd homes are $300k+. Yikes.
If it’s a permanent structure, you’ll have to permit anything that has a footprint of over 120 square feet and 12 feet tall. As far as I know, anything that isn’t permanent is fine to put on a property.
Super basic: With some detective work and diligence, you can find a place to fill up water containers in town. One gallon per person per day is the standard measure for portable water for drinking, food, and dish cleaning.
If it’s an option: run a hose from a friendly neighbor. Our neighbor’s water is delicious, even tastier than city water.
Big water tank: A 2500 water tank, plus a basic water pump, plus delivery and hookup, is $1300. And water delivery of 2000 gallons is $125 in Wonder Valley. There is one water tank guy and one water delivery service in Wonder Valley. 125 gallon food grade tanks are also available, but water is only delivered in 2000 gallon increments, so a 2500 gallon tank allows you to have a little left while calling in another water delivery. It’s not completely off grid, but it would work to some level for some time. Tractor Supply, in Yucca Valley, also has water tanks, but I believe we’d have to figure out delivery and we’d have to rig the system ourselves.
Dig a well: In the more rural areas without a water system, about 10% of people have wells. Wells cost $10-15k to drill, with water pumps and storage containers on top of that. In the desert, there is some risk that the water could be brackish (too salty to be potable).
We started with 4 small solar panels, only $12 from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Oakland. It allowed us to charge anything via a USB: our phones, a 2012 MacBook pro with the lightning adapter, the iPad we watch Netflix on.
I have a 3-prong laptop charger for my clunky work laptop, so running a line from my neighbor made sense. If we wanted something more permanent, there are power lines on the property so we could have PG&E drop a meter on the property, but we think this would be about $2k. Not too bad, but we dug out conduit under the road from our neighbor, plus some extension cords, and that was under $300. It’s our Minimum Viable Product.
In the next year or two, we will figure out a solar + wind offgrid electricity system. GoalZero has kits from a few hundred dollars to $2k that could solve all our power requirements.
Networking can be daunting. It can be awkward.
It is also rewarding.
Networking can help get you the career you want by meeting the right people:
Most jobs are never posted online, so you need to know people at the company you'd like to work at, which means networking is a key part to finding the role you want.
I used to be terrible at networking. It took a lot of practice to figure out how to do and, most importantly, not waste my time.
When you go to an event, any event, ask yourself why you're going. What's your goal? Is it to learn things? Meet people? Meet a specific person? It'll focus you while you're there.
If you're there to learn things, the talk will be useful, but so will the other attendees. For example, if you want to learn about clean energy software and you're at a cleanweb event, as other attendees
"Hi, I'm John. This is my first time at a cleanweb event. Have you been to their events before?"
Follow up: "I'm here to learn more about the industry. Are there other events or resources you recommend to learn more?"
"What brings you to the event tonight?" is a great icebreaker.
Meeting people, or a specific person
No matter what type of person you're looking to meet, whether at a specific company or a specific individual. find the organizer. They're likely to know some of the people in the room and they can connect you to the right person, even to people who could be hiring.
If it's not the exact person you're looking for, that's ok. Have a conversation with them, and mention that you're at the event to meet "a person from X company" or "other people in product management", then they can point you in the right direction.
Meeting a speaker
If you're looking to meet the speaker at an event, do your research ahead of time. Know what they look like. Go up to them before the event, because afterward, there will be other people who want to talk to them. Be short with your conversation. Say why you want to connect with them, get their contact information, then follow up with them that night or the day after. Many people take the contact information of people and never follow up.
Getting out of a conversation/making the most of your time
Don't spend too much time with any one person. You'll know within a few minutes if the person you're talking with is someone you'd like to connect with. Options for ending a conversation:
If you're having a good conversation with someone and you'd like to continue it, suggest that you connect (exchange contact information) and have a phone call or get coffee with them.
Follow up with people you met the sooner the better.
This is the running list of events happening in and around SPI 2017 in Las Vegas.
Monday, September 11th
CivicSolar & Aerocompact SPI Happy Hour 3-5pm
Tue, September 12th
Research Findings from the Solar Workforce Diversity Study
Industry Trends Booth 4434, 11 am-12 pm
Orange Button Investor Panel: Using Standards for More Efficiency in Solar Finance
12:30 pm - 1:00 pm, Industry Trends theatre
Best Practices in Building a More Diverse Solar Industry
Industry Trends Booth 4434, 2-3pm
Orange Button Live Demonstration, Hall H, 2:30 - 5:30 pm
Celebrate with WRISE at SPI booth #1114, 9/12 4-6pm, toast at 4:30
Tweetup 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM PDT
Orange Button Networking Mixer, 5:30pm-6:30pm, Ballroom H
Sungrow SPI Cocktail Party (Live Music | Entertainment) 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
It’s not a pipeline problem. It’s about loneliness,competition and deeply rooted barriers.
From the New York Times
A year ago, dressed in suffragette white and addressing a cheering, weeping convention, Hillary Clinton stood for possibility. Now she is a reminder of the limits women continue to confront — in politics and beyond.
More than 40 years after women began pouring into the workplace, only a handful have made it all the way to the top of corporate America. The percentage of chief executives of Fortune 500 companies who are women just passed 6 percent, creeping up (and occasionally dropping back) at a glacial pace.
Why don’t more women get that No. 1 job?
HBR came out with two must-read studies recently. They reveal clear and measurable differences in how different genders are treated. It's staggering.
Here they are:
Why do men need to read these articles, too? Female leadership (including founders) offers higher ROI - 63 percent higher ROI.
Also, it's been quite a year for white women, people of color and nonbinary people in tech. In case you any of the developments or your head is spinning and you're in need of a recap, here is Megan Rose Dickey's summary.
Is this your first time at Intersolar? Have no fear, here are three ways to make the most of the largest solar conference in California.
1. Show up
Twitter and other social media channels will do no justice to the event. You have to be there, meeting people in person.
2. Walk the expo floor
True, Intersolar is a conference with great educational sessions, but most of the excitment is on the expo floor. The expo is a multi-floor series of booths from solar companies. Most of the companies that have booths are hardware companies. If you're not in the market for a racking system, it would still be useful to know about racking systems.
Walk up to people at booths where you have no idea what the product is and ask them to tell you about the product. It's their job to tell you. Also ask them what they find interesting at Intersolar and if they recommend any other booths to go to.
Make sure to check out the Powerhouse Pavilion and CALSEIA Pavilion.
Do you need a free expo floor pass for Intersolar? Use PVComplete's complimentary discount code, V9878BC06, when you register here.
3. Go to networking events
The conference and expo floor are great, but the networking is even better and more worth your time. Below is a list of networking events happening around Intersolar. Not really a networker? Here 's how you take the awkward moments out of networking.
4. Follow up
You'll meet some interesting people. All will be for naught if you don't follow up and connect with them. If you don't immediatly have a follow up action, like getting coffee with them to have a deeper discussion around career or business, email them to say "It was nice to meet you. I look forward to seeing you at another solar event soon." and add them on LinkedIn. By doing this, you'll go above and beyond 95% of the people that person met at the conference.
Now get out there and enjoy Intersolar!
Can't get enough of solar? My friend Ravi and I host cleanweb events in the Bay Area and next week we're hosting a panel of solar software entrepreneurs to hear what they think about the current solar market and what it means for startups. Hope you can join us.
Hello female founders,
With all the events and links out there I was having a hard time keeping track of everything, so I’ve put it all in one place. If I’ve missed anything, use the contact form to let me know.
YC is hosing the Female Founders Conference on 6/29 in SF. If you can't make it in person, it will be live streamed here: femalefoundersconference.org/
YC also put together a great set of female founder profiles. Check them out here.
Use #ffc2017 for social media posts.
Wednesday 6/28 pre-events
Thursday 6/29 (Day-of)
By Sloane Morgan
Hey all you Clean Tech Enthusiasts out there! I've met some great clean energy companies over the past several weeks. They're doing great work to make the world a better place:
Check out Swell Energy. They are selling a bundled product of solar + storage they call EnergyShield, premium black panel solar generation and a compact lithium-ion storage cell in SCE, a Southern CA utility. SCE is innovating and picking up where the fossil fuel-powered grid leaves off. Swell offers financing and is leading on good CX with their one click application for state and federal incentives. As of August 2017, SCE commissioned Swell to bring the largest fleet of home batteries (they are Tesla certified installer) the world has ever seen, effectively creating a “smart” grid that will help solve major supply issues facing Southern California. I want this in PGE territory! I don’t want my solar to go offline if the grid goes out (which is what would happen to me —and most other solar customers — under my current grid tied solar system). This Swell + SCE project is our future.
I’m also impressed by Drift, an online marketplace that allows consumers to buy energy at the lowest available price whether directly from the local grid, the wind farm outside of town, or even their neighbor’s solar panels. Drift is focusing on customers in New York City, and it takes just minutes to make the switch to cleaner power. Founders were in a band together before they started their first company, and now showing their many talents by helping customers save money on energy costs by rethinking the supply chain paying.
Lastly, the folks at Zero Mass Water are magicians. Their product is a solar system that pulls water out of air. Millions of people on the planet need this product! Water vapor is extracted as pure water & is mineralized for taste. Without pipes or plastic chemicals, the water is of the highest quality without the vulnerability of infrastructure. Easy to purchase systems are customizable to match your family/garden needs. These folks are working out of the University of Arizona and have created a cool product with endless opportunity for ‘democratizing’ the ownership of clean water.
I've had more than a few people ask me about how to get into clean energy. They're tired of woking at a company that isn't meaningful.
Good news, it's easy to get into clean energy!
Clean energy companies are just like other companies, they need business and technical people. If you know operations, marketing, finance, engineering (software and others), HR, clean energy companies will want to hire you. Clean energy companies need professional s that bring their expertise from other industries into clean energy.
You can apply for open job descriptions, but it's best to meet a few people in the energy industry so they can help connect you to the right hiring manager. The best way to meet people in the industry you want to work in is by going to events. To overcome
How to come up to speed on the industry:
A few easy questions to start and end a conversation
Networking is daunting when you don’t know where to start. The most important think is to be curious about the people you meet. Perhaps they aren’t the perfect connection, but maybe they know a restaurant you should try in a new part of town or they know someone else that could be of help to you. There are some basic questions you can use to get over the first conversation at an event.
Everyone else is there to network as well, but it’s hard to make the first move. I usually scope the whole room, then make it to the bar or food area – you can always use a drink or appetizer menu as an icebreaker, then dive into more professional topics.
My favorite way to start is:
What brings you here tonight?
Ask them if they’ve been to an event like this before: Example Women 2.0
Have you been at a Women 2.0 event before?
To keep it going…
How are you involved in tech?
Do you have a startup?
Are you new to the area? (This way you get their history)
The conversation will take off and you'll want to hang out, or if you need an exit or if the conversation has a lull.
Have you met any other interesting people here tonight?
They’ll point you in the direction of someone interesting or you’ll have a way out of the conversation.
“….Great, I'd love to check in with them. Thank you for pointing them out to me. It was very nice to meet you.” And you walk away.
"Ok, I'm going to see who else I can connect with here. It was very nice to meet you.” And you walk away.
There you have it. Go try it out!
These posts compliment my weekly newsletter: