Imagine making the choice to live without modern amenities, such as running water and electricity.
Widow Robin Speronis of Cape Coral, Fla., is among the growing number of Americans who happily embrace this “alternative lifestyle” known as “living off the grid.”
Robin doesn’t have a refrigerator, oven, running water or electricity at her modest home.
Most of what she owns was free, donated or bought for next to nothing.
She cooks on a propane camping stove, and her electronics run on solar-charged batteries.
And when Robin needs water, she collects it in rain barrels and uses a colloidal-silver generator to disinfect it.
“My message was to create, so I created a happy place … a place where I get up, and I’m like this is beautiful,” she told WFTX-TV in Fort Myers, Fla.
Unfortunately for Robin, her decision to talk to a local TV station about off-the-grid living put her on the radar of the city of Cape Coral.
The very next day, authorities tacked a notice to vacate the property on her door, despite the fact she owns her home free and clear and is up-to-date on her taxes.
“A code-enforcement officer came, knocked on the door then posts a placard that says uninhabitable property, do not enter,” she told the TV station in a later interview.
The city’s code-compliance manager told the station the home was tagged because it doesn’t have running water or electricity – but neither is mentioned as a requirement in the code cited by the city on the notice.
“Sounds like the city feels that this is an unsanitary situation,” said WFTX reporter Lisa Fernandez.
“How would they know?” Speronis asked. “They have never been inside.”
In the bathroom, a camping shower solves the problem of no running water.
“This will heat up with 3 hours in the sun, but I’ll take a shower at any temperature is fine for me,” she says pointing to the crude contraption.
And when nature calls, Robin uses water from her rain barrel to fill the tank of the toilet and flush it as though she had running water.
“Where is the justice? Why did they choose me,” she asked, “I was exercising my First Amendment rights of free speech in discussing living off the grid.
“Putting a woman who lives by herself, who is a widow, out on the street without any due process of law is unfathomable,” she added.
Robin’s husband died three years ago after battling a debilitating neuromuscular disease. She says navigating the costly and frustrating health-care system prompted her to unplug.
“I wanted to look at every other part of my lifestyle and say, do I need this? Is this of value to me? If it went away tomorrow, what would I do?” said Robin.
A local attorney has decided to represent Speronis for free, according to WFTX-TV.
Cape Coral told the station if Speronis can prove she can sustain her life and the home without running water or electricity, they may be able to come to an agreement.
“I’m going to bring this to the attention of anyone who will listen until justice is served,” she said.
Living off the grid is less about pinching pennies, and more about principle for Robin. She vows to fight any future legal challenges by the city.
“I’m prepared, and if that challenge comes up, we’ll deal with it,” says Robin. “And if my father in heaven wants me to be the test case for something, I’ll be the test case for something.”