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John Thackara

Unplugged, But Not Alone




I was snooty in suggesting, in my comment on Doug Rushkoff's new book, that he should get out of the city more.

But if I'm an armchair tree-hugger, Stephanie Smith is the real thing.

Two months ago, this former architect abandoned her Los Angeles life for a new one in her shack in Joshua Tree, Southern California. The story of what happened next is reported in her Unplugged Diary.

Smith's homesteader cabin sits on a five acre parcel "across the road from the house she just gave back to the bank".

One reason I'm gripped by Unplugged Diary is that my daughter Kate and I visited the area a couple of years back. It was a three hour drive from downtown LA — and we made the whole trip using these directions, made for us by Stephanie, which I keep proudly on my office wall here in France:



That trip was also memorable because I was fined $350 by a huge and terrifying local cop for overtaking a school bus on this otherwise empty road to Stephanie's shack:





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