We Made the Move! Russell Kanning
Date of move: March 2004
Reported by Tim Condon, FSP Participant Services Director
For the early-mover members of the Free State Project, it's usually pretty clear why they "make the move" to New Hampshire. But some make the move for reasons other than the chance to live in liberty among other freedom-lovers.
Russell Kanning is one of those: He moved for love! Call it "Porcupine love" (if the whole notion isn't sharply self-contradictory). Upon moving to the Free State from Wyoming in November 2004, he married FSP leader and super-activist Kat Dillon (who herself had moved to New Hampshire from Texas less than a year before). They now make up a Porcupine family of three with Kat's daughter Kira.
Russell was living in Victorville, California sometime 2003 when he first read about the Free State Project. "I signed up within days of reading about the FSP for the first time," he recounts. Then he moved to Wyoming later that year with his family, hoping that that state would be the state chosen. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately Russell had one more move to make before he could live among other liberty-lovers after New Hampshire was chosen in late 2003 by the FSP membership vote.
It was unnecessary for Russell to do any advance scouting in the Free State. He and Kat had already struck up an online friendship as a result of both being activist FSP members. "I knew I would like any part of NH," he says, "so I had not made any exploratory visits. But I did ask plenty of questions. And I married Kat as soon as I moved into the state, to Keene."
About his first impressions, Kanning says "I like New Hampshire even more than I thought. It's not quite as cold in the winter as I expected, and it's a little warmer than Wyoming. Also, the people are very friendly in New Hampshire and seem to have positive impressions of the FSP on the whole."
Russell recounts the same story about both anticipation and trepidation upon coming to the Free State and meeting other Porcupines. "One of the things I was looking forward to in NH was meeting my fellow Porcupines," he remembers. "I have not been disappointed. I've met so many Porcs in the past few months that I can't name them all. In fact, many of them I met in just the first few weeks after arriving."
Any fears about the cold winters that some people use as an excuse not to make the move to the Free State? "I wasn't concerned about the weather," Russell says. "I knew I would like New Hampshire no matter where I ended up. I had been living in southern California for about 16 years, but I grew up in Montana and Utah, so I was used to cold and snow." But even so, New Hampshire turned out to be a shock for Kanning: "I've never lived in a place with this much rain and all the beautiful trees," he marvels.
One thing that did concern him, he says, was the welcome or lack thereof that he and other Porcupines would receive upon moving to New Hampshire. "I was curious to find out how 'flinty' the locals would be," he says. "As it turns out, they're friendly and don't seem to mind outsiders coming from as far away as California!"
He was also surprised by the condition of the roads in the Free State. "Since we have so many hills in New Hampshire, and winding roads, I'm surprised at how nice the roads are, and how well you can get around the state. It's also pretty obvious that the road conditions worsen as soon as you cross the border into the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts," Russell says with a grin.
What about the job situation? Was he worried about his ability to find a job? Not at all: "New Hampshire is a very busy place, and it wasn't hard at all for me to find the kind of accounting work that I do," he recounts.
Kanning is also looking forward to doing wintery sport things with his new family in Keene. "My new wife and daughter went sledding for the first time in their lives yesterday," he said. "We'll also be doing some outdoor skating, which will be new for all of us. I'm an avid sports fan and like to play basketball too, so I'll continue doing that here in New Hampshire. I'm also making the big switch to New England teams from the Utah Jazz, Denver Broncos, and LA Dodgers, since New Hampshire is now my home and will be my home from now on."
Any words of advice to others who may be contemplating the possibility of moving to the Free State as part of the FSP migration? Russell is very explicit about that: "You will not regret moving to New Hampshire early," he says. "Everyone I meet is glad they moved, and I'm surprised at how much we can accomplish already in the state, and how much the good people of New Hampshire are welcoming us here. Each of you should move as soon as you can. You'll love every minute in your new home in the Free State!"
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