Distancing yourself from modern society and infrastructure isn’t an easy task. Increasing population density and technology have made our world feel smaller and more interconnected than ever, and it’s difficult to step back from this accepted norm. However, as we’ve seen from survivalists such as Mors Kochanski, it’s easier to cope with an independent lifestyle when you’re raised in it from day one. This is why we find it fascinating to hear the stories of kids and young adults who grew up in off-the-grid settings — such is the case with 17-year-old Maddie Roark.

In the following short film, created through a partnership between VICE and Amazon Prime Video, Maddie Roark explains how her upbringing on a remote homestead in the Blue Ridge Mountains has helped her see the value of independence. Maddie is currently finishing high school and getting ready to spend six months hiking the formidable Appalachian Trail. She explains that she’s preparing for this journey by stockpiling venison jerky, brushing up on plant identification, and selling homemade goods on Etsy to fund the trip.

After watching this video, we couldn’t help but notice some of the snarky comments claiming that she’s not “off the grid” because she agreed to be the subject of this film, lives in town part of the year, and makes money from an Etsy account. While this may be true by the strictest definition of the term, we disagree with the sentiment. Living off-grid is not an all-or-nothing life choice — it’s a continuum. You don’t have to look like Ted Kaczynski or reject all modern conveniences in order to become more independent and self-reliant. Maddie and her father appear to be on the right track in this regard.

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