Project overview: an urban man resets for a year in a remote off-grid community
By any measure, Masa Takei is an urbanite. Born in Japan and raised in Cambridge and Vancouver, he worked for a consulting firm in Tokyo before obtaining an MBA from McGill. In his mid-30’s, he traded in corporate life to restart as a freelance travel writer. He sought out new stories, exploring wondrous places and meeting fascinating people, many who were living in ways that were worlds apart from his own experience. He met a man who lived in a cave through Yukon winters, where it gets down below -50. He went on a traditional goose hunt with a Cree family who worked a trap line off James Bay. Over the course of his assignments, an interest germinated in simpler, more primal living. Others he came across appeared to gain a deep satisfaction and connection with the natural world simply through meeting their basic needs for existence: food, heat, shelter.
And he asked himself, “What could I discover by living that kind of life?” There was only one way to find out. The problem was that he knew absolutely nothing about how to build, how to hunt and forage for his food. But what he did know was of a particular place, a rainforest paradise that would be the perfect place in which to learn. So he’s set out to this remote archipelago, to start from scratch and learn to homestead with the help of a mentor, Rapid Richie. Does he have what it takes to build his own cabin? To learn to hunt, fish, and grow his food? To live within a tight community? This March, he’ll find out on the northern edge of Haida Gwaii where he’ll attempt to adopt all these skills during the course of a year. And we’ve been invited along for the experience…all in HD and all on-line.
Even five years ago, this project would not have been possible. There was no way to upload and transmit HD footage – huge digital files – virtually live, from this off-grid location. But times have changed. Masa Off Grid will push the technical envelope by experimenting with the notion of instant access to the edges of the world, at any time.
As a narrative, this project offers a rare opportunity to follow a long-term, compelling event as it unfolds. It taps into the question of “can a modern man reconnect with the most basic skills?” as well as some reflection about humans’ connection and relationship with the natural world. He will doubtlessly suffer setbacks and hardships, loneliness, injury, illness and conflict. Unlike Dick Proenneke in that venerable 1967 documentary, “Alone in the Wilderness”, Masa describes himself as “hapless but not hopeless.” Regardless, he will need to pony up to master all the skills needed to fully revel in this classic “cabin in the woods” fantasy. And he’ll need to rely on the good will and knowledge of others in this small, off-grid community to help him along the way.
Masa plans to be on location in Haida Gwaii from March 15, 2011 until March 15, 2012.
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