In the 1960s and 1970s ideas about ‘off grid’ infrastructures were central to projects for alternative living that celebrated self-reliance and sustainability, and imagined autonomous communities disconnected from the state and from capitalism. These ideas were materialised in the emergence of alternative communities across Scotland, the second of our three sites. In Britain today Scottish experiments in off the grid living circulate as model exemplars, with some offering training courses and instruction to people who aspire to build their own communities or reduce their carbon footprint.
In Scotland, a context of relative wealth, this project will explore the networks of mutual aid through which residents in off grid communities care for each other and through which they heat their homes. How do alternative health care services provided within the community tally with people’s use of the NHS? How do the heating and energy systems developed by the community have particular kinds of social relationships built into them and how might they also depend on external grids (e.g. road networks for the delivery of woodchip)?