Live Off the Grid, Get Forced Out Of Your Home

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Cape Coral, Fla., resident Robin Speronis had a pretty cool thing going. She had decided to live a resourceful life — one free from any ties that would force her dependence on a utility infrastructure to meet her basic needs.

Speronis was living off the grid. Now she’s facing eviction because she agreed to share her enthusiasm for off-grid living with a local television station, and the city government saw the story.

Widowed since 2010, when her husband died of a neuromuscular disease, Speronis decided to devote herself to resourceful living. She had devised a rainwater-collection system using rain barrels (beloved by academics and ecologists) and a colloidal silver generator disinfecting system, acquired solar batteries, learned to cook on a propane camp stove and contented herself with life in a well-maintained, modest, easy-to-care-for home.

She has no refrigerator and no oven. She uses a camping shower to bathe. When she’s ready to use the restroom, she fills her toilet tank with some of the rainwater she’s collected. Her way of living is far from derelict or destitute, and Speronis takes a lot of pride in her home and the life she’s chosen.

“My message was to create, so I created a happy place… a place where I get up, and I’m like, ‘This is beautiful,’” she told Ft. Myers-Cape Coral TV station WFTX last month.

“It was an interest in empowering myself, like we did when we got off the health care system. I wanted to look at every other part of my lifestyle and say, ‘Do I need this? Is this of value to me? If it went away tomorrow, what would I do?’ The more I got into it, the more exciting, the more of an adventure it became,” she explained.

The story aired Nov. 14. The next day, code enforcement officials posted on her door a notice that she must vacate the property. Robin reportedly owns her home outright and is not in arrears on any taxes.

A Cape Coral code compliance official told WFTX Speronis’ home was targeted because it lacks electricity and running water. But “neither is mentioned as a requirement in the code cited by the city on the notice.”

If Speronis resists the city throughout the eviction process and doesn’t meet the code department’s demands, the county sheriff could forcibly remove her from her home. But with the help of a local attorney who has stepped up to represent her pro bono and a pretty indomitable attitude, Speronis has no plans to step away from the life she chose.

“Cape Coral needs to be afraid of me. I’m not afraid of them,” she told the station in a follow-up story.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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