Newspaper editor Horace Greeley's advice: "Go to the West; there your capacities are sure to be appreciated."
Fed up with consumerism and industrialization in "civilized society," Henry David Thoreau settles in at Walden Pond for a 26-month experiment in self-reliance, to "live a primitive and frontier life ... if only to learn what are the gross necessaries of life and what methods have been taken to obtain them."
Daniel Halladay, a Connecticut machinist, invents the self-governing wind-powered water pump.
Ernest Thompson Seton, a naturalist, artist, author and failed Canadian homesteader, becomes the first Chief Scout of the Boy Scouts of America. Intensely interested in American Indian traditions and practices, Seton writes the first Scout handbook, emphasizing conservation, outdoors ethics and practicality.
In the depths of the Depression, Scott Nearing, a former college professor, moves his family from New York City to a farm in Vermont. He and his wife, Helen, describe their experience 22 years later in Living the Good Life--inspiring future generations of back-to-the-landers.
J.I. Rodale publishes Organic Farming & Gardening, which champions sustainable practices.
Eleanor Roosevelt plants a White House victory garden, inspiring the nation to grow vegetables at home.
Naturalist Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac meticulously documents a year in the natural life of Wisconsin's Sauk County. Leopold outlines his "Land Ethic," which says "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."
A trio of researchers at Bell Laboratories creates the world's first photovoltaic cells.
A lacy, tinted 20-story-high geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller houses the U.S. pavilion at the Montreal world's fair. Strong but lightweight, geodesic domes reflect Fuller's philosophy of "more for less"--an approach to natural resources that made him a pioneer in the sustainability movement.
Stewart Brand publishes the Whole Earth Catalog, a counterculture bible that, through its massive final issue in 1971, enables "the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment and share his adventure with whoever is interested."
The Technicolor Amish, a band of California peace lovers, arrive in Tennessee to practice collective living.
Commune dweller John Schaeffer opens Real Goods in Mendocino County, Calif., and sells early solar panels.
A mere 126 years after Lincoln signed the Homestead Act--and two years after its repeal--Alaskan Ken Deardorff receives a land title from the U.S. government, making him America's last official homesteader.
Following terrorist attacks on New York, catastrophic Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, escalating oil prices and financial uncertainty, the ranks of survivalists swell. Increasing numbers of Americans begin to stockpile food, water, gasoline and other essentials in preparation for societal collapse.
Congress passes the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which requires public utilities to accommodate net metering. This practice allows small-scale producers of renewable energy to roll back meters and bank excess energy produced during periods of ample sunlight and wind for use at a later date.
During the economic downturn, Detroit ramps up production in six of its 17,000 acres of vacant lots by turning them into 500 minifarms.