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Daryl Hannah has a massive commitment to the environment, and unusually amongst the Hollywood A-list, she puts in real time and effort to forward her beliefs. In this exclusive interview she spoke to Off-Grid’s Steve Spence. © Off-Grid 2005

Actress Daryl Hannah is often referred to as the Blonde Goddess of Hollywood, but as far as we’re concerned she’s the Green Goddess of the Rocky Mountains. Hannah lives there, off the grid, and she spoke to us about her setup and why she got into that life. The details were fascinating, from the technology of her farm-tractor to the soft couch in her living room made of moss covered stone.

She was in New York with Charris Ford who has lived off-grid for the past 18 years. They are on a tour to promote use of biodiesel fuel, one of the issues that most concerns her. She started learning about the environment as a pre-teen, and she found nature to be the thing that has centred her, where she can “think about things”.

Charris, who runs Grassolean Solutions , got Daryl into bio-diesel as a way of reducing energy consumption on the planet, and now, as is well known she drives a bio-El Camino as well as running a bio-truck, and a bio-tractor on her farm in the Rockies.

But Hannah is not a one-issue campaigner. Her whole way of being is all about the interconnectedness of things and her favourite saying is on that theme:

“There’s a phrase I really love,” she said pulling out her pockebook — I actually wrote it on my wallet – “thou canst not stir a flower without the troubling of a star.”

“It just speaks to the interconnectedness of things,” she says,

“I have been a vegetarian since I was 11, and I eat organic , and my belief is that all these things are tied together, everyone says to me “what’s your issue”? but its all the same (its about) humanity — all environmental interests are tied together.

And really that is Daryl’s consistent theme — which she has been able to put into practice in her off-grid home:

“My house in the Rockies was an old stagecoach stop. Its pretty small, and I restored and put solar power in, and we have spring water because there’s a spring next to it. It basically all runs on solar, and we have a back up bio-diesel generator.

“I took a barn that was being torn down to put up a new post office, all made of old growth hazel (wood), and they said that if I took it before they tore it down then I could have it. So we took it all apart and numbered it and put it back together and that’s now the winterised dwelling.

The stagecoach stop was not insulated really except with newspapers, for about a hundred years every traveller who came through would put up an extra layer of newspapers from wherever they were from, so it was not very warm but there were newspapers from the 1800s….

“Anyway, so we winterised the barn and we turned it into the hillside (on one side) and directed it towards the Southwest (on the other) so it is getting both passive and active (solar energy),

“I call it the art barn, and I have a big art space for creative endeavours, whatever that may be, music or painting or what movies or whatever.

“We also have an organic garden, and we get worm juice, ” she giggled. ” The bottom portion of it is all greenhoused in , and we let the water come running through – there’s a little creek – (which) keeps it half humidified as well and waters the plants.”

We saved the most amazing detail for last. If there was an Oscar for recyling, Daryl Hannah would be the only nominee. She has actually made a couch out of mossy stone.

“All the stone and scrub oak that needed to be moved when we put the barn in, we used it inside the house. The stone that had moss on it we use as a couch, and we water the couch to keep the moss alive.”

Now that’s what we call off-grid.

The photo here is one of Daryl’s favourites “I have a nice picture of me in front of my tepee (near the house),” she told us. “You can’t really see my face that well, but I like it.”

Daryl Hannah's favourite photo of herself (Jeff Lipsky)
Daryl Hannah’s favourite photo of herself.

We think it says a lot about her that the photo is outside her teepee in the grounds of her home, and that you cannot really see her face. She is a modest woman who really cares about the environment rather than latching on to it as a new fad. Please write to the editor if you would like a larger format, higher-res copy of the photo.
“My initiation into the natural world was through summer camp,” she told Off-Grid in her interview. “I grew up on the 47th floor of a building in downtown Chicago, and I was so disassociated and alien to the world and my dad saw that I was having issues at school, basically my teachers were saying that nothing was really sticking, everything was going in one ear and out the other.

“I kind of lived in some fantasy world, and his solution was to send me off to the camps where he went to as a kid, which was in the mountains in the Rockies, in Colorado, and it was a camp where you lived in covered wagons for two months and you horse pack and you backpack. You know, you’d have to dig a fire pit and you’d have to dig a latrine , you have to pitch a tent, you have to feed the horses groom them and bridle and saddle them; pack your tent, pack your food and clothes, for two months, you know and I did that every year from when I was 7 to when I was 17, every summer.

“We’d do technical climbing, and I’d even do solos, you know they’d send you out for 24 hours with no sleeping bag, no water” she said laughing at the memory of it. “And you’d go and think about things, essentially, you know.

“I never did any (foraging), I never did eat anything (out in the wood) but it would give you time to think and appreciate things, you know.

“Anyway, that was when I found my centre in a way, you know I found my …things made more sense to me when I was in nature. Things kind of pinned together and I started feeling more of this world. And I’ve always kept that connection. And I felt strong around and always been around people who have very strong environmental convictions, and a lot of them even though they preach them and they don’t necessarily live by them, At a certain point when I was older I took my life into my own hand and I just decided I wanted to try and live by my beliefs as much is possible.”

We are hoping Daryl will work more closely with Off-Grid on future projects, and will let readers know when there are any new developments on this front.

© Off-Grid 2005

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