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Episode 2: Interview with Carly and Chase Thornock, OSR Off-the-grid Intentional Community, Utah

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

See the Vlog and Podcast from October 1, 2023 Here are some notes from that interview. Interview with Carly and Chase Thornock at Operation Self-Reliance, Riverbed Ranch Intentional Community, Utah 0:00:27 - 0:01:53 Introduction to interviewing Carly and Chase Thornock at Riverbed Ranch, Operation Self-Reliance in Utah, Intentional Community. This interview is a discussion with people who are living in and building an off-the-grid intentional community.

0:01:53 – 0:03:38 What is OSR at Riverbed Ranch, and when did it get started? An agricultural coop with homesteads and agricultural land. The premise of the community is being fully off-grid, with each property having a home, well, septic barn, garden, greenhouse.

0:03:38 – 0:04:45 Why did you want to be part of this community? Carly was the impetus. She has already been very intentional in how she lives her life. Chase was a Corporate CEO and got really sick. He had to figure out how to heal his body. A lot of those principles have to do with being self-reliant in terms of your food, having healthy water and air.

0:04:45 – 0:05:49 Carly, why do you have this interest in self-reliance and intentional living? It did stem back to when Chase was so sick. We can’t be reliant on big systems or other people to control our health. I also became really interested in how the home environment impacts the health of the family. We’re learning a lot. I like to be around people who are growing.

0:05:49 – 0:11:08 You have three adorable boys. As parents, what was the consideration for you in doing this for your family? We already had a fascination in this lifestyle and had renovated an RV to make it fully off-grid. We had always home-schooled the boys. Carly is highly educated and does a really good job teaching them. The kids are very curious. Of their own accord they want to know how things work. In a lot of ways children are more adaptable than adults are. It feels like a return to when I was a kid and children were more “free range,” and things felt safer. At OSR the kids can run free, with other kids, and all the adults watch out for them. There are 60 kids at OSR.

0:11:08 – 0:17:20 Talk about the scope of OSR. Half of the acreage is dedicated to homesteads. There are 250 sites. Over half of those are already committed. People are at different stages of developing their homesteads. Everyone does it differently and within their means. As we develop, we will become providers of organic produce. You also agree to have a cottage industry to have some kind of entrepreneurship activity to become self-sufficient and provide for your family. Have a welcome center already, have another building that functions as a community meeting center, roads, green belt will have landscaping and trees presently, an equestrian therapy center, in the long-term plan, a school, a retirement facility, a larger community center. 0:17:20 – 0:18:10

How do you see your plans evolving? We’re focused on finishing the barn. In this environment you’re beholden to the weather. Having a closed-in workshop is really useful. Then we’ll start working on the home.

0:18:10 – 0:20:25 How do people support all this development? Especially debt-free. Some people are still working. Some people are retired and have means from what they’ve done in their lives. We have periods of work and then work. There are times we are working to save up funds. And times we are working to execute on our projects. We are starting to learn with our community. There is an initial living arrangement to get you to your 3-year living situation. And then your long-term building plan. Especially because we’re doing most of the building work ourselves. For us it’s worked for us to take winter to leave the ranch, go where it’s warm, and save. As many people as are out here, that’s how many ways it has been done.

0:20:25 – 0:22:35 What are some of the challenges? Some of the perks are the challenges. Like living close to the weather. That’s wonderful, and it can be terrifying. You have to see what kind of weather you have and plan your day accordingly. Every day is a challenge. If you are considering something like this, you have to love challenges. A tenet of Chase’s healing journey was that he realized his body had to be challenged to heal and become strong. You also have to rely on a higher power. Sometimes you just need help. Also, we depend on each other here. There is no 911 close by. We have to rely on each other for help. Weather, mechanical, dirt, interpersonally. You have to learn to get along with each other.

0:22:35 – 0:24:08 There are many knowledgeable people here, experienced with high tech, health, construction, building trades… It’s a different age now. We have satellite internet. It’s less about having the answers than knowing what questions to ask. You still have the world at your fingertips. This is about 2 ½ hours from Salt Lake City which could be longer in the winter. Nearest hospital is 1 ½ hours.

0:24:08 – 0:26:40 If people think they may be interested, what do you recommend? Come out and spend the night. You get to see the sunrises and sunsets, and also the dust devils that come through that are intense. Wear your jeans and your boots. Don’t wear white clothes and be fancy. Prepare for the weather. Come out and see if that’s for you. Check out the website: Make sure you have a spare tire or two and know how to change a tire. It’s an hour on dirt with no cell service. Come try it out. We track each other in and out of town with the buddy system, checking in when you leave and arrive.

0:26:40 – 0:28:20 Anything else you want to share? I love community movie nights. Everything is so much harder earned. When you have a movie in a barn the community has just built together, that is really meaningful. It’s the same with church. In the city everyone has to be quiet in church. Here the little ones run down the aisle; the auntie or neighbor will scoop them up, play with them for a second, and then send them back. Here you have to be more informal. I love it.

0:28:20 – 0:29:40 Here most of the community is LDS (Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) It seems the community is open to people of many spiritual traditions as long as they are hard-working, honest, care about others, care about kids, and support the mission of this place. Is that correct? A place like this tends to bring people with those characteristics here, and also sort out the people who are not aligned in terms of their values or goals. Those traits are needed in the people who live in a place like this. By no means is this an LDS-only community. There are several OSR communities planned. I think you’ll see those communities take on the demographics of the people from the areas in which they are built. 0:29:40 – 0:31:08 Yes, one of the things that is interesting about this model, is the different OSR communities planned for a corridor going up and down in the western side of the U.S., into Canada. There will be interaction among those communities. The goal is for Riverbed Ranch to be able to help the other communities get established and grow. The founder of OSR is Phillip Gleason. 0:31:08 – 0:33:38 Intentionality is the key. Think about what you want and then go after it with everything you have. Be willing to work hard and be willing to be flexible. They may seem paradoxical, but you need both. To come visit doesn’t require that. If you’re curious, come. There are visit days planned for a couple of days a month. We came for a visit day. Then we read some of the documentation, watched some of the videos, and came back for a deeper dive. There’s a community potluck on the third Friday of the month. You can contact Jesse Fisher who does outreach for OSR. He is very accessible. Reach out. We will tell it to you straight because there is nothing to be gained by not telling it to you straight. 0:33:38 – 0:34:30 To stay in Carly and Chase’s AirBnB trailer. It is listed on AirBnB as Camper/RV in Juab County, UT.

Thank you for this interview!

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