We Made the Move!
Dawn Lincoln and daughters Jaclyn & Kelsey
Date of Move: April 2004
Reported by Tim Condon, FSP Participant Services Director
It's not easy being a single Mom, especially when you're responsible for homeschooling two nearly-teenaged daughters. But Dawn Lincoln makes it look easy. Dawn, together with her two daughters (Jaclyn, 12, and Kelsey, 10), moved from Newington, Connecticut in April 2004, only six months after New Hampshire was chosen as "the Free State" in the FSP vote of August and September 2003. This dynamo Porcupine was one of the earlier members of the Free State Project to move into the Free State, and made the move in spite of homeschooling laws in New Hampshire that are more backward than many other states.
"I am currently homeschooling my daughters," explains Dawn. "The major hesitation I had with moving to New Hampshire was the homeschool laws in NH. I decided that I'd just have to deal with the over-regulation of homeschoolers, and work to help make it better. Since then I've found that one of the least invasive methods of complying with the homeschool RSA's ("Revised Statutes Annotated," the NH term for statutes), is to use a private school as your "participating agency."
What about research? What kind of study did Dawn make of New Hampshire before making the move? "Not too much!" she responds. "I knew I wanted to follow the FSP and wanted to do it sooner rather than later. Being from Connecticut, I wanted to find a spot in New Hampshire where I could be relatively close to visit my family and friends in Connecticut, and have them come visit us too. I needed an area with decently priced housing and access to a gymnastics studio for my 12 year old, so I used the FSP web site to do some research, and met with Jim Maynard and Shelly Otterson, both of whom live in Keene in the southwest part of the state."
There were plenty of scouting trips to New Hampshire before the move, though, Dawn recounts. "I made quite a few trips to come house hunting. It took us about four months to find the right house in the right location for the right price. After a few disappointments, we finally found the perfect house. I focused on Cheshire County, wanting to be close to Keene but live in a little more of a rural area than the city of Keene."
Now that she's "gone and done it," what are Dawn's impressions of the Free State overall? "I love NH!" she responds immediately. "The people here have been very friendly and helpful. The only person I've had a problem with is the lady at the Department of Motor Vehicle, but that's pretty standard everywhere, isn't it? This is a beautiful state with many people who really do believe in Live Free or Die. In my area, I've found that a lot of people are from out of state, especially Connecticut, so I'm not so much of an outsider as might be true in other communities. The chair of our local board of selectmen is even from Connecticut, and has only been in New Hampshire for about three years, so 'outsiders' are definitely able to become respected members of the community rather quickly in this area.
Any fears about the weather? The weather is typical New England weather," explains Dawn. "Not much different from central Connecticut where we came from. I know because I looked at houses in the middle of winter when it was snowy and cold. Some areas get more snow than others, of course. My realtor told me about a 'snow belt' - an area that gets more snow than most of the areas surrounding it. We steered clear of there!
"There are lots of lakes and plenty of nice summer days to use them," Dawn continued. "But I was glad we ended up with an air conditioner from our involvement with Freecycle, when the temperatures were up around 90 in the summer! Now we're looking forward to snowmobiling with friends this winter, ice skating on the nearby lake, and snow skiing. We are fairly active - we like to ski, bike ride, camp, hike, horseback ride, do gymnastics, swim, and boat. As a result of moving, we'll most likely get into a few new things like snowmobiling and/or four wheeling. It's really cool in the winter when you see the snowmobiles riding along the trials near the roads!
"However, in the late spring/early summer, you do have to watch out for the New Hampshire "official bird" - the black fly (deer fly, gnat, whatever you want to call it!). They are annoying as can be and love to fly into your eyes and bite too. I haven't tried this remedy, but someone told me that putting ammonia on the bite will take the itch out - I'll be trying it next spring!"
When exploring the Free State for a house to buy, Dawn recounts, she also visited and met with other Porcupines, including Jim Maynard's girlfriend Pat, Shelly Otterson, Justin Somma, and Calvin Pratt. She ultimately ended up outside Keene in the small town of Winchester. Says Dawn, "I bought a house right off the bat because I didn't want to have to move again. I have a 3 bedroom cape on an acre lot, just perfect for the three of us. My realtor was awesome - Robin Smith at Masiello Group in Keene. Her work number is 603-352-5433 x 235. She worked very hard for me and helped us finally land in the right spot. I highly recommend her."
What about new friends in the Free State? Has Dawn linked up with any? "Yes! " she responds. "Luckily, there are many nice people involved with the FSP who have been very welcoming and nice too! The 'Meet-and-Greets' have been a great opportunity to meet people, as well as functions like the annual Porcupine Festival, the Liberty Dinner, the Coalition for New Hampshire Taxpayers picnic, the state LP convention, New Hampshire Liberty Alliance meetings and more. I've met so many, it's hard to list them all! Kat Dillon and her daughter Kira are two of my favorite FSP members. Kat is really sweet and hardworking and funny too!
"I have also met a lot of people in town," Dawn continued. "My daughters are volunteering at a nonprofit daycare center in town, and I volunteered to help out on the Winchester Pickle Festival committee. It was a great way for me to get to meet more people. Plus I know most of my neighbors too. For instance, there's a farm right around the corner from us that has a sign up for eggs for sale. So, our first day here we stopped in for some eggs. We are really lucky - our neighbors at the farm have three kids and they homeschool and are incredibly nice. So, the girls have been having lots of fun with their kids, and helping with the animals."
What about the people in the Free State overall, I asked. How do they strike her now that the move is complete? "Well, you have to go out and get involved to meet people," Dawn responded. "But I'm very pleased with the caliber of people that I've come across. They're nice, they're helpful and friendly, and they seem to like their jobs too. The waitresses and cashiers are even nice to you here!"
How did the move itself go, I wanted to know. Did anyone help Dawn and her kids get you moved in when they got to the Free State? Says Dawn, "I had plenty of offers but we moved in slow, one load at a time, so we were all set."
In the meantime, Dawn cautions, New Hampshire isn't perfect; there's plenty of work for FSP members to do once they get here. "I was most surprised that the Live Free or Die state is micromanaging their homeschoolers!" she said. "And was even more surprised that many of the NH homeschoolers I've corresponded by email with don't seem to think it's that bad!" Nevertheless, she's glad, excited, and delighted to have "made the move" to the Free State: "It's really cool to be part of such an awesome historical event like the Free State Project. It's nice to feel like I'm really going to be able to make a positive impact in New Hampshire, to help them retain and hopefully gain more of the freedom they want and deserve. It's inspiring to see so many hard working, intelligent, well-spoken individuals in this state, all working together on various projects and within different organizations."
If you're wondering if making a move to the Free State might be right for you too, and what it would be like, Dawn Lincoln has a few things to say for you: "Come on up! Find a way to make it work and move as soon as you can! We need more people here to make things happen. There are lots of hard working people here already and lots of excellent organizations to get involved in. I love New Hampshire! Personally, I keep the FSP stuff to myself until I really know someone. Some people know about the FSP and think it's great, others have heard about things like the Free Town Project and aren't so sure. But I don't want to be prejudged by people so I just go about my business and volunteer for things and get known that way, so I can be judged by who I am and what I do, not for what groups I do or don't belong to."
"If anyone wants to contact me, please email me."
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