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tv   United Shades of America  CNN  May 22, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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so, in this episode, we'ir talking to people who live off the grid. yikes. do you think that sounds horrible? oh, off the grid. off the grid. i love the grid. i'm a big fan of the grid. grid me. i get that the grid means that the government is watching you at all times, but as a black person, i'm like, yeah, the government is watching everything i do but the grid
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comes with free wifi, so that's an upgrade. my name is w. kamau bell. as a comedian, i've found in humor in parts of america i don't understand. i'm on a mission to reach out and experience all the cull ctu and believes that add color to this country. this is "united shades of america." our world has never been more fast paced interconnected and distracting. now, i like the idea of being connected, even with the doctor -- distractions but there are plenty of people who don't. they want to get off the grid. the idea of getting off the grid is different for everyone. for some, off the grid means getting closer to nature or being more eko friendly.
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for others, it's the only way to escape an oppressive government and escape their freedom. for me, it means turning my phone to airplane mode and watching netflix. luckily, there's one city that katers to people of all stripes. asheville, north carolina. it became known as the destination for hell seekers everywhere. it created aen unusually cosmopolitan community and now it has retained that spirit and well known as the refuge for all people looking to go they air o way. hi, my name is kamau. hope, nice to meet you. crow, nice to meet you. we're here because asheville is known where people can come and
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invent themselves and start over. >> it's a place where different cultures can come together as one and not have a lot of preconseevd. >> wave your freak flag high. people all over the country talk about this is the place to come to reaminvent yourself. >> i'm trying to get back to college here because i weld. >> you're going to be a welder here? >> or flag stiff. >> oh, old school. you seem to be outside of the mainstream. >> we think we're in the mainstream. we're part of the world 's oldest religion. >> and what is that? >> paganism. >> yeah, we're witches. >> it's known as a place to start their own communities and be outside the community. >> mountain folk, they'll give
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people a shot, no matter how outside the mainstream they seem to be and if your are e're cool can win their respect. you can be in for free rights for dogs or anything. >> because for a lot of people watching on tv, they probably think this is already a pretty wacky place. hippies, blacksmiths, and a couple of witches. i'm down. >> everybody's just open. you can make contact. it's really different. i live for christ and it's cool because it's not a lot of judgmental hate. it's cool, man. >> i'm in a special place because in the last half hour, i've talked to a wicken, and a person living for christ and they're about 100 feet apart from each other and there's not a lot of places on the planet where that's the case. >> it's all friendly man.
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>> being part of the kouncounte culture that is the norm. and there are communities in the mountains that are self sustaining. we're so connected right now. >> that's why we're here. i want to know more broabout ho those people survive in the hills. it's not only supportive of people who want to live off the grid. villagers, which is one stop shopping for those looking to create a self sustaining eko friendly life. if i'm tired of the man holding me down and keeping his hand in my pocket, i can come here, buy some stuff and then get off the grid and start my whole new life? >> you could totally do that and get your overalls and cancel your phone. >> oh, i can't do that. i would like phone service.
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the man 's hand slightly out of my pocket. when you're not here, how do you live your life that is reflected in the principals you have here? >> i live in a tiny home. >> one of those -- like a little tiny home p. >> it's tiny. >> i've seen pictures of them. that's so cool. >> you're welcome to check it out. >> can i see the tiny home. >> it's not in your neighborhood. >> that's okay. i do that regularly. in 1973, the median home was 1500 square feet. and by 2010, it had grown to over 2100 square feet. a size increase of over 40%. and yet some people are choosing to shrink their home to 40% or less. there are many reasons people are down sizing their homes. compared to the national average
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of $341,000. >> so, this is my house. nattily's tiny house is 265 square feet of heaven. >> welcome. >> thank you. because just like heaven, there's not room for everybody. >> you've now entered the kitchen. >> that's quick. i guess that's the whole idea behind a tiny house. >> very efficient. this is a food prep area where i cook. a fridge down here. appliances. and on this side is my kitchen sink. i don't have running water hooked up yet, so that's why i have this crock here. so, i shower at the gym and just do the bare minimum here as far as water needs. >> look at that. regular size bananas, even though it's a tiny home. i thought you might have mini bananas. >> everything regular sized fits
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in the tiny home. and this little ladder leads up to the loft which you're welcome to poke your head up there. >> that's the bedroom. >> that's the bedroom. i feel like this home -- i feel i might break this home because i'm so gigantic. >> it's built so solid. it can handle you. >> wait a minute, this is nice. when i saw it from upstairs, i was like there's no way to have a romantic evening up here. >> you can. >> there's enough room to -- >> you want to test it out. >> yeah. good for you, maybe missionary. but you could cycle through some of the kama sutra up here. >> take a seat and when you sit down it becomes a dining room. >> i'm a lazy person, so i like that. the tiny home movement, what is
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this called? >> i think you would call it minimalism. people choosing to scale back to ghee get to the essence of things. >> i'm certainly a person who likes stuff. i'm a stuffest. you're a minimalist, i'm a stuffest. and the more stuff you have, the happier you are, but you're saying this is the reverse. >> yes. >> thank you for inviting me over. >> sure thing. would you like a cup of tea before you go? >> sure, that would be great. standing tall... ...has nothing to do with height. the 1936 stubby bottle is back.
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so, i'm trying to understand people who live off the grid. and my producer has this great idea that i should visit a real life prepper in the woods that insists we don't have his name and we come unarmed. so, where did the prepper phenomenon come from? back then, desks were built out of special nuclear bomb proof material. the government was also telling those kids' parents to build fallout shelters where they could live out of during the
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post world war mad max era. many preppers morphed into patriots and they are are also hoarding guns and ammunition. i wonder what made them so afraid. this is a map of the patriot groups in 1997. i wonder if 9/11 will spike their numbers? nope. iraq war? no. >> barack obama becoming president? huh? go figure. i wonder if it will spike again when he figures out how to run for his third term. so, i'm 30 miles outside of asheville heading to meet a prepper. apparently the only thing he likes more than his guns is being left alone and he wants to wear a mask because he doesn't want anyone to know his
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identity. wait, is that my dad? >> see you made it up the mountain. >> nice to meet you. >> nice to meet you too. are you a prepper? survivalist? off the gridder? >> i'm kind of like all the above, i guess. i believe in living as simply as possible and i don't have neighbors that i have to listen to. >> so, what do you like about living so far away from mainstream society? >> freedom. absolutely. absolutely. nobody telling me what to do, how to live my life. this is an unzoned area. if i want to put pigs down that path, i could. if my wife would permit that, i would. >> that's the thing about freedom, eventually there's somebody you got to talk to about your freedom. >> yeah. >> looking around, this is
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pretty much what i expect to see. solar panels, check. way too many tanks of propain, check. strange broken down generator, check. and a dog who's thinking why don't i get to wear a mask? check. there's a stigma about people who live off the grid, that people call you crazy, like you lost a -- screw loose . >> you know, i kind of think the same about them. >> why? >> with the way the government's going and nsa, the intrusions into people's lives. i think more and more people will find this lifestyle more accommodating. what they don't have the right in washington to do is to tell you or me what to do when it's in violation of the constitution. i think obama even said the
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constitution gets in his way. >> so, what are you willing to do to keep your freedom? how far are you willing to go? >> i'll die. i'll die. and everybody i know around will do the same. >> that sounds fine to me. i hope we both agree that day isn't today. >> have you ever shot a gun? >> not proficient with it. i don't own a gun. >> everybody should own a gun just to protect our country from regime change. >> it's not ice cream. we should probably also restrict ice cream. if you look at my gut, you can tell that's a problem. >> this is an inalienable right. >> but i'm kind of seeing your point. >> talking about guns and all, right here. >> what type of gun is this?
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>> an ar-15. >> oh, thank you. so, i got to hold it like i'm holding a baby. i don't want to hold it the wrong -- go to sleep, little baby. don't cry. >> that thing is just an inanimate piece of plastic and metal. just like a car, it won't kill anybody, unless you pull that trigger after its loaded and then it can be extremely deadly. >> the difference between a gun and a car is this can't drop the kids off at soccer practice. >> but it can sure motivate them to go to soccer. >> i guess we have different parenting styles. >> i'm joking with you. >> of course, of course. >> you'd like to fire this. i know you do. >> when in rome. >> you keep that muzzle straight up for me. there's not one in the chamber but there's plenty in the clip. >> he did just give a gun to a
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total stranger and turn his back. >> here we go. >> honey, where did i put my extra ammo? >> you can take it right on up. and let it go. >> yeah, okay. >> now, you're ready. >> this is like losing my virginity, it take as lot more effort that i expected. here we go. wow. i don't think i want to do that again. [ gun shots] >> you clearly are proficient and respectful of the tech nailing and people on tv will see that and they'll see a man living on the mountain in the
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woods wearing a mask, dressed in camo, talking about people taking our guns away and that's going to scare people. >> we're not the enemy of anybody. i'm wearing a mask for personal reasons. i'm not a bad guy. i get along with everybody. >> the asheville board of tourism is probably not going to use this as come to ♪ one♪coat, yes!
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okay. so, i visited john, the masked patriot who lived off the grid. but he still has solar panels, cell phones, probably a rocket launcher he didn't show me. but i want to find somebody so out of touch that i can walk up to them and say, hi, i'm john lemon. and he's so outside the box he spells tod with one "d". he became so concerned with the damage humans are doing to the planet, he lives 40 miles outside of asheville. somewhere around herish, i think.
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na following some vague directions, i think i'm in the right place. nothing around for miles, no cell phone service, the annoying smell of fresh air. tod is going to take me on some sort of mountain man fantasy camp, teach me how to survive in the wild one step at a time. please, god, let them be baby steps. hey, fellas and ladies. hello. hi, my name's kamau. >> i'm tod, glad you made it. welcome. i have a few things i'm trying to get done before dark. >> i'm a city fella, so if you need me to log you on to wifi or order you a mocha, i can do those things.
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>> which one would you like to carry? >> that one. >> you sure? >> that seems dangerous enough. >> good rule is not to fall on top of it. >> yeah. >> i've done it. >> good way not to lose your thumbs. and a tool from a horror movie. oh, dam it, i'm the black guy. >> you can see when you get off the trail, it's pretty steep. it's just off the trail. i wouldn't do that to you. >> i appreciate it. >> this is the log we're going to work on here. hop on the other side of the tree. let's jus make a cut right here. grab the handle and pull it towards you straight across the log. just kind of float it on there at first. there we go. very gentle and slow.
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people think it's a rough macho thing but it's more of a zen thing than it is macho. if we were cutting this whole log up, your back would be broken by the end because you're just lining over there. >> oh, yeah. isn't that how they say, lift with your back? >> they cut these forests down to nothing with these saws like this. i'm really impressed at your cutting abilities for first time. >> maybe i'm a kcutting mutant. >> or maybe you should quit tv and go into logging? >> that's the same advice my last agent gave me before i fired him. >> if you'd like to come in and take a look, you're more than welcome. >> okay. >> so, this is it. this is the main section and this is the east wing over here. >> if you wanted to, you have space but you like the tineiness of the house. >> i just don't need anything
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else. it's different if you have a livingroom and bedroom and a den. this is my living room and the forest is my bedroom. lead the way. >> i think you should lead the way. >> there's a lot of oak trees around here and we harvest acorns in the fall and you have to leech the tanens out. sometimes i have to soak them for a month or more before they're ready to eat. if you take a bite of these before they're fully leeched, they won't poison you but it just doesn't taste very good. so, you and i are going to find out if these are ready to eat. >> sounds great. >> i'm not going to say anything. i'm going to let you try it first. >> this is acorns? >> yes. >> because it looks like dirt. i expected to see a nut of some
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sort. >> these are ground up. we get them, grind them up and then leech them and eat them. >> let's get all the camera angles we can right now because this is a one time and one time only proposition. enjoy it while it happens. do you know how long it took me to eat sushi, tod? i'm a slow adapter to the new cuisines. >> you probably tasted worst things, haven't you? >> not on purpose. it tasted like -- you know, i mean, like sawdust after taste. g g >> you know, you're right about that. >> and half leeched acorns, not on my bucket list. >> maybe get a fire going. >> i'm down with that.
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one of the great things about most travel shows is the food. i say about most travel shows because it's not this one. on this episode, a guy brought me a bucket filled with like
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toilet water and a bunch of brown paste that looks like the kind of stuff they use to put ikea few tons together and he's like would you like to eat some and i said no. and my producer said here's your contract, kamau. they keep the contract with them a lot on the show. have you seen this? oh, i need fire a bunch of people. >> you haven't had duck eggs? >> no. >> they're much richer than chicken eggs. there they are. you want to grab them? >> yeah. so, i'm 40 miles outside of asheville, with the ultimate outsider, tod. >> i think this should go in first. >> yeah. that's right. canned bear. you can the bears.
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what's the liquid in there? >> bear juice. and then smells like canned bear. >> oh, yeah. uh-huh. is that what that smell is? >> that's that smell. and it doesn't really need cook but i always cook it for a bit gist to be sure. what the heck, you know. it's not fancy. bear meat, duck egg. >> first taste of bear meat. >> and? better than acorns? >> it tastes like -- >> bear. >> whatever it tastes like. it tastes like bear. it's like stew meat. >> you're lucky i didn't try to fe feed you rat. it's good.
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you know what it tastes like? rat. >> i feel lucky. how long have you lived out here and what brought you here? >> somewhere in the neighborhood of nine years. >> you say in the neighborhood because you don't know what year it is? >> i can't remember exactly when i got here and the path lat led me here, i guess i could start at birth. i went to college, almost went in the marines and went into engineering because i felt a strong feeling that i should try to change the environmental situation and at the time i believed higher technology would help make the world a better place. so, i got a degree in electrical engineering from the university of washington and i dime my personal conclusion that it's all a bunch of bullshit and we have a realistic fear of where we're going as a planet.
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in my opinion every single economic action that we take in society as it exists is contributing to our own self destruction and i'm not above that. i love my half decalf soy latte. it doesn't go with my image, i know. but it's true. >> i understand what you're saying. i'm capable of putting that out of my mind while i'm sitting in my car and using my electronic devices. i love being comfortable. and i'm impressed with all the work you've done out here but i couldn't imagine the amount of intensionality to live out here. >> i've experienced your life. i was an engineer. i owned a brand new car, a house. i did that whole thing. but i moved out here and my life is so much better than at any previous time in my life. i've tried many different things
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and i have the luxury of not knowing what time or day it is. i have the luxury of drinking water that has been pumped with fluoride that someone is telling me is good for me. i have tons of freedom and to me that's wealth. >> you win this round, tod. you say a lot of good things. i can't imagine sleeping here. >> that's too bad. because i was going to invite you to sleep here. >> really? >> yeah. >> hey, kamau, who's this? it's cnn. would you like a tv show? yeah, what do you do? travel around and hacngout, lik bourdain. yeah, i'll take one of those tv shows. sons of --
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♪ so, if you're wondering what it would be like if an entire community lived off the grid, wu wonder no more. deep in tennessee, the legendary
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intentional community known as "the farm." ♪ incase you didn't know, the 1960s didn't actually end in the 1960s. in the early '70s san francisco was still in the era of flower power. long-haired dope smoking hippies. i get a contact high just thinking about it. but ones the haze cleared, some of them wanted more. so, they had a cross country caravan to make peace and love and when they were ready to settle down, they moved to rural tennessee, like you do. there they bought 400 acres of land and established a new community that they named "the farm." and at that point none of them actually knew anything about farming. but i guess when your back is up against the back woods of
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tennessee, you'll figure it out. they grew food to feed themselves, built houses and had a lot of babies. like, a lot of babies, because what else are you going to do without tv and they banned money and shared everything. there were over 1500 people living on the farm at its height and they took in 10,000 visitors a year. but even if you don't believe in money, everything comes with a cost. ♪ i am in the middle of nowhere. so, i'm 60 miles southwest of nashville, tennessee and i'm about to meet with doug stevensen who's been here since 1975, the farm's historian. >> hey, douglas. >> welcome to the farm. >> you want to see the place? >> sure. we should probably take yours. mine is probably not farm
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appropriate. >> this is greener. we have about three square miles of land and then another 1400 acres of nature preserve. about 4,000 acres altogether. >> even if they're small, that sounds like a lot. we like the peace and quiet, close to nature. so, we're coming up here. this is a recycle center. this is a wood shop. this is our soy dairy where we make tofu and other soy products. because the farm was founded as a vejitarian community. we're well known around the world for our midroofry program. this is a cabin for people coming in to have their baby. >> so, people fly in from all over -- >> all over. >> he said the original mission was to get people back to the land and reject the consumerism
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and the use of money. how come i've not seen any people? how many used to live here? >> 1400. it settled down to 100 adults and -- >> do you think 1400 was too many people? >> well, it was fun. [ laughter] so, we're coming into downtown here. >> wait, wait. we are? >> it's very much about living in nature. >> can you point me in the direction you see downtown? >> that's our dome. >> no matter where you go, downtown is always congested. after doug drops me off, i want to walk around and see if i can meet any of the residents, that is if i can find any. where tare the drum circles and
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most troubling, i don't smell any weed anywhere but i do smell something brewing, which leads me to these people who appear to be at the farm's equivalent of a frat house. hey, everybody. i'm new farm. i live here now. none of that is true. kamau. and so thi looks like we're making beer. >> you're right. we are. >> belgian dark. it's going to be quite thick, quite lovely. >> thick and lovely. that's what they said about me in high school. is it people who worked at the farm who didn't work out? kind of a weird laugh you guys just had right there. [ laughter] >> if you want to step over -- >> to the wine bar. >> yes. this one here is sweet potato ale. >> uh-oh. >> sweet potatoes we grew here.
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>> as a black person, sweet potatoes are very important to my culture. if i tell the black people you messed up the sweet potatoes, you might have people showing up. good use of the sweet potato everybody. how is it connected to the belief system. >> all the beer is coming from hundreds of miles away and why not do it here? because all the energy that goes into brewing to us, we can do for free. >> all the fruits we use, i'll feed them to my chickens or use it in my compost. >> nothing is getting thrown away. okay. sustainable beer and wine, that's sounding more like the farm i've heard about. this isn't keeping the lights on. but there is an industry here
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and of course, it's tofu. >> like to take a look at how we do stuff? you're going to have to sport one of these. >> i sleep in one of these every night. >> be the envy. it's a good look. they've been making tofu right here for 40 years. >> since way before it was cool. >> since way before it was cool. it's a job but are they being paid in money? tofu? how community is it? >> if i was lucky they'd get paid in tofu but it's a straight up deal. >> you still have to deal with uncle sam? >> that's right. >> even if you're making free love hippy tofu, uncle sam wants his slice. >> you want to come on over? yeah. >> and the farm has another
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business, making babies. they have an internationally renowned midwifery program that has brought thousands of babies into the world the way mother intended. no hospitals, no doctors and no drugs. >> one of the things that people really like about midwifery care is the individualized attention that you get. i don't just show up at the end and catch the baby. i'm there for the whole birth. >> i know they make tofu here but this seems like the central industry of the farm. >> this is one of our biggest crops. >> that's a good crop. people are always going to want more of that. yeah. ♪ i'm surprised. not what i expected from the world's most famous commune. the farm is now like any other community in america. people with jobs and bills to
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pay. i can't help but wonder what happened and if the old timer farmers are okay. >> i remember thinking that we were on the cutting edge of where this country was going. i'll tell you, i believed that. i believed that in 10 years we'd all be living like this. >> well, you got to dream big. >> we did. >> you believed by the falloff disco we'll all be living on farms. so, i know you're up to 1500 people at some point and something like the change over happened. >> you're asking what it was like with 1500 people. well, it was too much. and in the early '80s, we had big bills, so we're getting in financial trouble and the community decides everybody's going to have to chip in to pay this bill or we're going to lose
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our land. >> and the community that out lawed money, everybody needed to do what their parents told them to do in the first place, get a job. >> there was a massive exodus of people looking for work. >> even being here today, if i decided i wanted to live here and i wanted a job, i don't see a lot of help wanted signs on the farm. >> yeah, it's tough. i love the younger generation that's coming along already with way ahead of where we were that same age when we came here. they're coming with skills and awareness that it took us a lifetime to develop. >> so, do you think you're holding on to that core mission? >> look at this place we ended up with. i feel incredibly lucky to have been able to get to live here and living here at my age now. i couldn't ask for anything better.
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i don't want to buy any cookies, little girl.
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shoshow me more like this.e. show me "previously watched." what's recommended for me. x1 makes it easy to find what you love. call or go online and switch to x1. only with xfinity. to me, off the grid means i'm in a neighborhood that doesn't have a coffee shop with an open outlet and a bathroom. you been in that position where your phone's about to die and you're walking around looking
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for an outlet and feel like your time on this planet is coming to an end. walking into businesses you have no business being in, looking that floor. sometimes i feel like i should send a tweet out, tell my loved ones i love them. i'm never going to see them again. i've finished my very unscientific tour of the farm and now i'm meeting back with my tour guide, doug. sell me, doug, sell me. i can see the appeal. i consider myself to be a big sit aperson but i can see the appeal of getting away a little bit off the grid, as they say. >> it's a good quality life. >> even this morning i think i turned on the lights, when you moved here there was no electricity. >> we didn't live with electricity for the first 12 years. we actually took technology one step at a time.
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we started with nothing and when something made sense, we added it. >> what would you say to somebody who's just seeing this for the fist time and going huh, maybe that's a thing, what would you tell them? >> yes, you can grow your own food, build your own home with natural materials. you can take charge of how your babies are born, keep yourself healthy. you can find like minded people. it's really about being particulate of something greater than yourself. there's 1200 different communities already going. you don't have to start from scratch. come join it. >> i've met a lot of interesting people on my off the grid tour. people determined to live their life the way they want to and that's great for them. and as much as i thought i'd come out of this feeling sorry for these people, it's clear they feel way more sorry for us,
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constantly enslaved by our laptops and smart devices and -- oh, i just got a tweet. i need to respond to this. sorry. i think we commune and we don't think of people making tofu and delivering babies. >> it's all about keeping a balance. you don't have to wait to live your dreams. you can find peace and sanity in this world right now but it does take attention and dedication and a lot of hard work but if you persevere, you'll get there. >> well, thank you -- again, thank you for letting me come out here. i appreciate it. taxi. >> this this is cnn breaking news. >> hey there, everyone. i'm errol barnett with rosemary church at cnn center. we want to get you to a news conference that the u.s.
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president barack obama is holding with vietnam's president to start his weeklong tour of asia. let's listen in. >> the people of vietnam once again, i'd like to warmly welcome president barack obama and the high-level delegation of the u.s. government on your official visit to vietnam. mr. president and i had a very productive talk on bilateral relations, regional and global issues of common interest. we discussed the implementation of the joint statement on vietnam u. vietnam u.s. comprehensive -- and between the two countries in july of 2015. concluded between the high-level leaders of the two countries. we


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