May 11, 2010
In our daily lives, we are surrounded by wires, pipes, utility poles, cell phone towers, and a myriad of other infrastructure that facilitate almost everything we do. Even though the systems are essential, when was the last time you give them much thought? Not only is infrastructure shrouded in mystery, much of it is woefully out of date – bridges are falling, public transportation is overcrowded, and most roads haven’t been updated since the 1950s. In On the Grid, Scott Huler sets out to understand all of the systems that shape our society – from transportation, water, and garbage to the Internet coming through our cable lines.
He begins his fascinating journey at his house in Raleigh, North Carolina, and travels everywhere from the inside of a storm sewer pipe to the sewers of ancient Rome. Each chapter follows one element of infrastructure back to its source. Huler visits power plants, watches new asphalt pavement being laid, and traces a drop of water backward from his faucet to the Gulf of Mexico. He reaches out to guides along the way, both the workers who operate the systems and the people who plan them.
A mesmerizing narrative, On the Grid is filled with amazing insights, interviews, and stories that bring an overlooked but indispensable subject to life.
Scott Huler is the author of six books including Defining the Wind and No-Man’s Lands. Widely published in newspapers nationwide, he has won awards for his work on National Public Radio. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.