In West Virginia, just 321 kms away from Washington, DC, you’ll find a community of roughly 8,000 people who live completely off the grid.
In the 20,920-square-kilometre “National Radio Quiet Zone,” all cell phone, Wi-Fi, microwaves, and even some vacuum use are all banned by law.
The restrictions were put in place because of the 11 large-scale telescopes installed in the area by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the 1950s. The observatory houses the world’s largest fully steerable telescope, which has a staggering surface area of 2.3 acres.
Nothing, not even a Hoover vacuum or commercial cell phone tower, is allowed to interfere with the telescope’s readings. While some Pocahontas County residents are long-time locals, others are self-proclaimed “technological lepers” who moved there to adopt a device-free lifestyle.
Photographer Emile Holba was extremely fascinated by the off-the-grid lives led in the National Radio Quiet Zone, so he began documenting the people and landscapes of Pocahontas County. We spoke with Holba about the characters he met, as well as what it was like to briefly live without an iPhone, GPS, or email.