Tech CEO helps people unplug with "cabin porn"

Zach Klein is living his boyhood dream with his very own getaway in the woods.

"My bio in some places once was, 'I work on the Internet now so I can live in the woods later,'" Klein said.

As designer and co-founder of the video sharing website Vimeo, Kelin found himself flush with more than enough disposable income to acquire 50 acres of serenity in upstate New York, where he would spend time building things and "recharge" in a "quiet place somewhere" in the wilderness.

To get ideas of what he would be built here, Klein started a blog featuring pictures of simple structures in natural settings, calling it "Cabin Porn." The blog has gone viral, with 12 million people visiting just in the past year. He recently curated more than 200 images from his website to create a book full of "cabin porn."

Elizabeth Parker Hut, Yoho National Park, British Columbia. Photo by Emanuel Smedbøl. #cabinporn

A photo posted by Cabin Porn (@cabinporn) on

Lake house in South Tirol, Italy. Contributed by Rob Gajland.

A photo posted by Cabin Porn (@cabinporn) on

While Klein attributes some of the success to the provocative name, the photos have inspired his visitors to unplug and get outside, and have also been therapeutic.

"You know, I never intended that that way, but it is remarkable how often we receive letters from people letting us know that it plays that role in their lives, that this is their way to relax or to de-stress themselves," Klein said.

To urge others to join him, Klein also started a school, where design experts teach building techniques and develop the property he's named, Beaver Brook.

For Alyssa Ravasio, learning the finer points of Japanese timber framing is a way of great escape from her job as a tech CEO, sitting at the computer for up to 12 hours a day.

"It's a huge part of why I am out here,"Ravasio said. "I think there is an increasing prevalence of technology everywhere. It seems to be taking over everything in our lives and getting outside, unplugging, kind of disconnecting is an essential part of staying sane and healthy and happy in today's world."

While Klein admits he is no Henry David Thoreau, he says the true beauty of Beaver Brook is in sharing it. Because the devices that normally connect us don't work here, a different kind of social network can take shape.

"There's no cell reception, no electricity, no plumbing--no nothing," said Klein. "It's about building relationships with each other through projects that we find rewarding."

But as rewarding as living in the woods with his family and friends can be, it is not a year-round endeavor. Klein still spends most days plugged in, most recently as the CEO of an online school called DIY. But for about six weeks a year, he recharges right here at Beaver Brook.

"The Internet is pretty one-dimensional when you compare it to a massive plot of woods like this," he said. "There are so many wonders to beholden here. You just have to look at the ground to see them."

And Klein says what may be the best discovery about being a cabin in the woods is that it is affordable.

"New York State, you could get an acre of agricultural land for about three-thousand bucks which is the price some people pay for their television," Klein said. "And I think what's really compelling to people is the realization that this simplicity that they are interpreting as a luxury is actually pretty obtainable for anybody that wants it."