Off the Grid or on Mulholland Drive?

By John Zogby Strategies

The beginning of the 21st century has already witnessed dramatic and dynamic changes, perhaps even more so than the start of the previous century. What implications does this have for the American Dream?


In my book “The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream” (Random House, 2008), I summed up the essence of the dream in a short parable.


One cold morning on Walden pond, two icons sat at opposite ends of the shore looking at a reflection in the pristine water. On one side, Henry David Thoreau meditated on the reflection and saw America’s greatness in its natural beauty and the opportunity to self-actualize as free human beings. On the other side was Frederick Tudor, the leading manufacturer of ice in North America who saw the bountiful income that such clean water could produce. Both represented the two strains of the American Dream – the materialism of the entrepreneur and spiritualism of the New Adam along the frontier.


The book went on to discuss how a fundamental shift in the American Dream was taking place. At the time, my polls were showing that about 1/3 of adults worked at jobs that paid less than the previous, but were finding inner peace by attaining less stuff, and through seeking authentic experiences. At the same time, there were Americans who had achieved material success and found themselves not fulfilled – just as Baby Boomers were finding it was time for a second act in their lives. I called this phenomenon “secular spiritualism.”


Fast forward to September of 2017 and a poll conducted by John Zogby Strategies reveals an almost complete transformation of the American dream with strong support for a Thoreau-like vision, as opposed to the materialist one.


John Zogby Strategies presented two very romanticized views of living to survey respondents: Option 1 – a grand mansion with lots of amenities, located in an expensive and prestigious neighborhoodOption 2 – a well-constructed tiny home, off the grid, surrounded by beautiful and bountiful nature. We asked, “Which is your personal preference?”


In nearly every demographic group, we find roughly two-thirds prefer the Thoreau-like option with a sturdy tiny home amidst nature. Overall, two-thirds of the public also prefer Option 2, while a little more than one-fifth (21%) opt for the prestigious mansion.


On the surface, our results appear counterintuitive given the continued surge in popularity with home loans. However, 64% of home-owners choose the idea of homesteading over home flipping (apparently even in the case of a mansion), as do 73% of renters.


George Carlin was ahead of his time when he joked about the obsession with obtaining “too much stuff!”


What does all of this reveal? John Zogby Strategies forecasts as long as all things digital become further intertwined with our lives, more will long for a return to the basics. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a Jack London story with a bad ending, but rather a balance that is struck.


Real Estate agencies and land developers can find the opportunity within these intriguing results that Americans revealed to us by not ignoring:


  • The desire for small and practical living arrangements.

  • Space for gardening and greenhouses

  • The home is only as good as what the property can provide.


Coming Soon: Who’s Your Tribe? The only app you’ll need to discover your Neo-Tribe.



White House Report Card: Ugly week for Trump

From The Washington Examiner, by John Zogby


Another one of those weeks. Downright ugly.

The president has picked a fight with both the NFL and the NBA. Tell me race has nothing to do with it. His candidate in Alabama got trounced. He is talking war with a mad man in North Korea and it is scaring the hell out of people. He has attacked Mark Zuckerberg, forgetting Mark Twain’s old dictum ‘Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.’


The repeal of Obamacare is dead. DEAD! In the mounting air travel scandal, Tom Price, the ousted secretary of Health and Human Services, was ripping us off and so is his secretary of the Treasury and EPA administrator. And his much touted tax plan is DOA mainly because it appears to add to the debt and enables the wealthy. Whew, I am tired. Sad and stupid week.


Trump’s Grade: F

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment