The people who come to the Possibility Alliance do so for different reasons. Some find the lack of electricity peaceful; others want to do their service to the planet by living simply; some want a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. But the message of the members of the alliance is simple: simply living so that others can simply live. This intentional community lives without electricity on an 80-acre homestead in northern Missouri, growing their food, biking to where they need to be and relishing in the simplicities of life. I spent the last few weeks tracking down and getting to know the people who live at the Possibility Alliance in northern Missouri. It's not easy, getting ahold of people who don't live with electricity — they have a phone, but I wouldn't wanna talk on the phone either if I had other awesome stuff to do like swim in ponds, play the banjo and read from their expansive library.
I was really inspired, working with the Possibility Alliance. The property is beautiful and everything was so visual and bright and happy. And the best thing about working with people who don't use electricity? Window light ALL THE TIME. No balancing different types of life, no struggling with tungsten bulbs — just the best type of light there is. Of course, there was candlelight, which was tricky, but it was fun to embrace the yellow and "embrace the shitty light" and make it work for the situation.
I'm actually pretty happy with this project. I like a lot of the pictures I took, though it was hard narrowing down the group, since about 10-12 people are present on the property at any given time. It's not easy to do a photo story about such a medium-sized group, because theoretically you could just do a bunch of shots of large groups of people, but there's not much room for lens choice there.
I naturally gravitated to the youngest of the bunch, Etta, who is the daughter of two of the founding members of the Possibility Alliance. She was free-spirited, precocious, inquisitive and fun to be with. I think the idea of growing up in a place with a bunch of people to care for you, living without electricity, with such space to roam and explore is such a utopian idea. I tried to use Etta as a transition between pictures, focusing a lot on her but also using her perspective and presence in group photos or photos where she was not present. I'm not sure if it worked, but that was the thought process. I hope it helped the story have more continuity and be presented as a better package.
I think I could definitely do a ton of edits on this — it's definitely a hard story to narrow down because there are so many questions raised by living without electricity. Where does their food come from? How do they bathe? How do they cook? How do they do their laundry? Why do they do this? I wanted to answer all of those questions, but I may have been a bit ambitious to tackle so much stuff. I hope the story doesn't go on too long, because I do not believe there are many weak photos. But I am concerned that there may be a lack of variety of shots because I wanted so much to include all of these things and may have only had one choice to pick from with the pictures.
I was really excited to tell this story, though, and believe that this is a bigger issue at the moment. Obviously not a lot of people are running off to live by candlelight and getting rid of all technology, but I think there are two facets that are largely present here that have larger movements. Firstly, I think many people have concerns that technology is interfering with basic human interaction. Though it spreads information and does keep people connected at large distances, it seems that some are concerned about daily interactions with people we see everyday. Some believe technology is moving in on that territory and changing the way we talk to one another, for the worse. Also, some, such as those in the Possibility Alliance, believe removing electricity removes a filter between them and their faith and allows them to worship more intensely and freely.
I also believe that there is a huge movement over concern with food and where it comes from. One of the members of the Possibility Alliance told me that his father died from cancer, a cancer that is typically linked to pesticides. Members of the Possibility Alliance believe in the pureness of food — growing with passion, without foreign objects that cloud their bodies with something they believe is unhealthy. They also believe in lessening their footprint on the planet, which is why they attempt to receive all of their food from within a 200-mile radius, to reduce the harmful pollutants that are put into the air from the transportation of goods. And living without electricity is definitely one of the best way to reduce one's carbon footprint.
It was an honor to work with such an inspiring, charitable and dedicated group of people and I am thankful that the Possibility Alliance let me spend time with them. I hope you have enjoyed my story. Feel free to provide any feedback or ask any questions!
Etta Wilcox-Hughes adjusts objects on her nightstand around the candlestick before someone reads her a bedtime story. Candles are stationed around the house on portable candlesticks to be carried from room to room as needed, but oftentimes bedtime comes around the time the sun goes down, as that is when one becomes naturally sleepy.