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FDL Movie Night: Diggin’ Dugout Dick in Idaho

The YERT team scours the earth for the weirdest, coolest eco-friendly stuff to document with low key homespun charm as they take you on "your environmental road trip"–hence their name. They’re three kids with a camera, a dream and a gas card, and you’re along for the ride.

In this 20-minute adventure, the intrepid trio travels north into the hills beyond Elk Bend, Idaho where the cave-dwellers dwell, a group of hardy souls who live in natural caverns that they further hollow out and furnish with the discards of modern society. Car doors and windows are re-purposed for exterior use on the homes, trashed wood burning stoves are used indoors, while the ice cave provides refrigeration. Explains cave guy Bruce:

We keep our beer there

The pioneer of the group is 90+-year old landlord Dugout Dick with his ever-growing collection of cats, who lives on oatmeal and Chef Boyardee. He’s lived there over 60 years, leasing the land from the Bureau of Land Management and in turn renting out the caves for a dollar a day, $25 a month, $300 a year. Dick has assembled most of the cave homes’ facades, recycling and re-purposing trash in strangely beautiful surreal functional decor. Tires, bumpers, wood scraps and more are all put to good use.

This is a fascinating look at low tech living, sustainability and community shot with charm and wonder. I wouldn’t to live like that, but I am glad there are people that do, and that there is a place for those who want to live off the grid, to be as free as possible.

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.