By katharine mieszkowski 01/22/03
Free to be
TO EVERY LOCAL libertarian who won't stop crowing that California's
bazillion-dollar budget crisis is just another symptom of how big government is
crippling the state: I'm throwing down the gauntlet. Move.
If you think we'd all be better off without bothersome social services and
public education, you're warmly invited to join 19,999 of your brothers and
sisters in homesteading a new land of the free under the auspices of the Free
State Project. Unfortunately, I can't tell you just yet where this
weenie-government utopia will be, but there are sure to be lots of people there
just like you. The project currently has 2,400 or so members (a 10th of whom
live in California) who have pledged to move en masse to a low-population,
don't-tread-on-me state to try to peacefully form a new society with minimal
government. States under consideration: Wyoming, New Hampshire, Montana, Idaho,
Maine, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont Wyoming being
the group's current front-runner.
But the migration won't begin unless the project signs on a total of 20,000
members, the number of citizens the free-staters think it will take for their
political beliefs to have an impact. They have no plans for violent revolution
or seceding from the Union, only for subverting it from within through mass
Jason Sorens, a 26-year-old Yale University political science graduate student,
started the project after publishing an essay about the idea in online journal
Libertarian Enterprise (ncc-1776.org)
in July 2001. Sorens received 200 e-mails from readers who said they wanted to
try to make it happen.
"Government is far too large and needs to be downsized by about 75 percent,"
Sorens says. He contends that while the Republicans give lip service to
reducing government, the Bush administration's agenda is "basically a
big-government agenda of more war, more federal role in education, and new
welfare for seniors." So far, voting for the government to tear itself apart
isn't working. "The Libertarian and the Constitution Parties have both been
just a blip on the radar screen," Sorens says. His solution: a consolidation of
effort, in one lucky state.
Andres March, 27, a San Francisco computer programmer, joined the project out
of frustration that his vote doesn't count. "Libertarians are not going to make
a difference, because they're too spread out," he says. "Their votes are
wasted. I cast my useless vote every election." Christie Cole, 46, another
computer programmer, says she resides in "the People's Republic of San
Francisco" and is ready to set out for the new frontier. She went Libertarian
25 years ago after reading Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh
Mistress and previously toyed with moving to Nevada or Mexico to escape the
oppressive yoke of regulation. She's irked by everything from drug laws that
keep antibiotics and asthma inhalers from being sold over the counter to yellow
tape and safety-warning signs on sidewalk construction sites that "protect the
"California and San Francisco in particular are so paternalistic to their
citizens that we are protected from hazards any legislator or lobbyist
perceives, rather than being allowed to act like grown-ups," she says.
There's a rallying cry: Freedom to fall into holes in the sidewalk!
And how might the current residents of Wyoming or New Hampshire react if 20,000
Coles and Marches show up gunning to turn their home state into a political
experiment "demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and
the world," as the project's Web site proclaims? Sorens is sensitive to the
danger of coming off like some rube group of Constitution-drunk, utopia-chasing
interlopers. "At the beginning I would see our goal as being primarily
supportive to the freedom movement that already exists there," he says. "We
would be the stamp lickers and the canvassers, taking a backseat to the people
who'd already lived there for many years." Once they'd established roots in the
community, the big fun would begin.
So far, the ranks of the 2,400 free-staters are largely made up of computer
geeks, small-business owners, retirees, and college students, with big
surprise! lower- and middle-income working families barely present. And
of those free-staters with school-age kids, well, 90 percent of them
home-school or send their kids to private school. See, who needs public
If the project doesn't get 20,000 signatures by 2006, Sorens says, it will
likely fold. But if it does, members will have a five-year period to find work
and homes in their promised land. Although Sorens recognizes that the
employment prospects in a small-population state may discourage some would-be
converts, he imagines that the antiregulation, low-tax policies of the Free
State, whichever state it is, will help create an attractive climate capable of
drawing more businesses and citizens. And if the whole thing is a big flop,
producing a chaotic, unlivable nightmare? "Then we deserve to fail, and we will
have learned something," he says.
So if you're tired of living under the jackboot of the state of California,
paying into a broken system you don't believe in, stop grousing into your
heavily taxed beer and go make your own magical place over the rainbow,
already. The Free State Project would certainly welcome the converts, and I'm
sure your clueless, infantalized neighbors here would give you a grateful
send-off. Visit the Free State Project online at
E-mail Katharine Mieszkowski at
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I Made the Move! Sandy Pierre
Date of move: May 18, 2005
I joined the FSP back in February 2002, as a "glass eater", one of those
zany people who committed to any of the ten states then under consideration.
Alaska was my first choice, but sadly, very few Porcupines were with me on
I made my first exploratory trip to New Hampshire over Thanksgiving weekend
2003. My introduction to the Free State was less than glorious. I
underestimated how hard it would be to find an open restaurant on Thanksgiving
Day, and wound up "feasting" on Dunkin' Donuts, salted nuts and Slim Jims. It
was too late in the season to see pretty foliage, and too early to see snow; I
just saw a lot of rain and leafless trees. Despite the fact that it wasn't
exactly love at first sight, I couldn't wait to make the move. However,
family, work and school obligations held me back. It wasn't until early 2005
that I announced that I'd be moving "after the thaw".
After analyzing my various relocation options, I finally decided to just
take what fit in my car (a Subaru Outback), and leave everything else behind in
storage in California. I settled on a plan to drive fairly directly and
quickly across the U.S., but to do a bit of sightseeing along the way.
My original plan had been to leave California on May 17, shrieking "Hasta
La Vista, Baby!!" in the general direction of Excremento (the state capitol).
Sadly, it didn't work out that way. My STUFF (see George Carlin,
Theory of:) seemed to multiply as I packed, so that while the stacks of
boxes increased, the quantity of unpacked STUFF remained static. Has a
physicist ever studied this phenomenon in depth? I see Nobel Prize potential
here. I delayed my departure by a day.
May 18, Judgment Day, dawned dark and very rainy. I took the last load of
STUFF to my storage shed in driving rain, getting the interior of my car quite
damp. I said teary and painful farewells to family and friends. The power went
out, and I had to finish loading my car and walking up and down the stairs in
darkness. I finally finished loading my car and waved goodbye to Oakland,
California. Death or Glory! Free State or Bust!! Live Free Or Die!!!
Emotional state for first 30 minutes: kept repeating "Oh God" over and
over like a mantra. Emotional state for rest of the day: erratic. There was
laughter, there were tears, there were moments of blinding panic. There were
moments of telling myself to get a grip and remember that I had been waiting
for this day for a long time. There was a moment of telling myself this might
well be the biggest thing I ever did, and it would make a great story, and damn
I'm cool. That was a good moment; I liked that moment.
I've been here two months now, and I can honestly say that I love it. It's
beautiful, people are friendly, traffic is like a pleasant dream, the
architecture is amazing, there's no sales tax. I can walk the streets at night
and not feel afraid for my life. I've met lots of other FSP participants,
who are an amazingly affable, upbeat and politically active bunch. FSP
meetings are well-attended, and everyone participates. Someone throws a BBQ
almost every week. There are protests, petitions, people running for office
(and winning!), Porcupines helping each other to move and care for sick
friends, networking, schmoozing... and a lot of beer. If you want to fight for
liberty, and be surrounded by others who do so as well, New Hampshire is
definitely the place to be! Hope to see you here soon.
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! Varrin & Edi Swearingen
Date of move: October 25, 2004
Reported by Tim Condon, FSP Participant Services
Two of the Free State's newest Porcupine residents have a secret: "We
originally opted out of most of the states, including New Hampshire, because we
could not commit to moving to them without taking a tour and giving it more
serious consideration," recounts Varrin Swearingen, who lived in Fresno,
California with his wife and two children up until recently. "After the vote,
we took a week and a half trip to New Hampshire," he said. "In late November
2003, we decided to move to Keene, NH. The move was to take place in October
2004, and was accomplished right on time."
Meet Varrin and Edi Swearingen, refugees from the Peoples Republic of
California, who "made the move" with their two children, Edison (age 4) and
Erin (age 3), in late October 2004 to the Free State of New Hampshire. Although
they had originally "opted out" of New Hampshire, that quickly changed. "Once
we toured the state, we began working on the move as soon as practical," says
Varrin. "It took roughly a year from the time we decided to move to the time we
arrived, partly because we decided to build a house in New Hampshire, as well
as because of work and other schedules."
It wasn't a hard decision for Varrin and Edi to move early, even though as
FSP members they're not obligated to move to the Free State until after the
organization reaches 20,000 participants. "We decided to move now because we
were ready to get out of California and begin working in a less futile
environment to promote liberty," explains Varrin.
Prior to the great state vote, he says, "We researched New Hampshire and
the other candidate states extensively. After the vote, we took a week and a
half trip to New Hampshire and that sealed the deal." During that time, in
November 2003, they "drove all around the southern one-third to one-half of
What was their first impression of New Hampshire? Says Varrin, "Favorable.
The attitude is noticeably more liberty friendly, though there is certainly a
need for the FSP. No state is libertarian, but New Hampshire is better than
most. The scenery was beautiful, the roads were well-maintained, shopping was
suitable, and there are a variety of sizes and styles to the towns. We were
able to find something that fit our personality well."
What was the weather like when they visited on their exploratory trip in
November? "The weather was variable but not very warm," says Varrin. "It was
only noticeably cold-near or below freezing and/or windy-only a couple of the
days. There were rainy days, clear days, calm days, windy days, and everything
in between. The variety was nice, and the cool clear days were stunning." As
for the winters, Varrin notes that central California where they moved from is
"hot and dry. It rarely freezes there, and even more rarely snows. However, we
lived in northen Kentucky near Cincinnati for several years, so we have at
least lived in the snow before."
"I believe the weather in Keene will be colder and snowier, but overall
nicer than the Cincinnati area," he continued. As for the supposedly fearsome
winters in the Free State, Varrin says, "My stock response to the concerns
about the cold is that they do have heaters in New Hampshire. We had our
builder install heaters in our house, and our car, which we bought in
California, already had one installed in it. Imagine that! So far the weather
inside has been a comfortable 71-74 degrees."
Varrin is an airline pilot who will continue working for the same company,
while Edi has a Mary Kay cosmetics business that she's already working on
expanding in New Hampshire. While visiting and exploring, they met lots of
other liberty-lovers, including Kelton Baker (then the President of the FSP),
Amanda Phillips (now President of the FSP), and Alan Weiss (former VP of the
FSP), not to mention other Porcupines from Derry, Keene, and Hudson.
Why did they settle on Keene as a place to build their home (a custom
two-story colonial; "of course we love it, since we designed it")? After all,
with his airline job, Varrin must fly in and out of Manchester. "While it's a
longer drive from the Manchester airport than I desired," Varrin explained,
"Keene has everything else we wanted in a place to live. Cost of house was a
major factor, as was shopping, suburbia, eating out, and other creature
comforts. In the end, we decided we would rather have lower cost, higher
quality house, and meet all of our other needs, than be closer to Manchester."
Any new friends in the Free State? As always, the answer is resounding.
"Yes! Many. They are scattered about, but several of them are in Keene,"
Varrin says. In addition, he met tons of Porcupines in the summer before their
move. "At the Porc Fest I met a lot of them. It's probably impossible for me to
name them all right now. We love 'em all!" He and Edi were also delighted to
find that the freedom-lovers they met in New Hampshire are "surprisingly
normal, for libertarians" (Varrin says with a wink). "The most noticeable
favorable trait is the desire to actually do something positive rather than sit
around and argue about what to do or how to do it."
The couple also found willing hands to help them move in once they got to
Keene. "Big, big, big thanks to Kat and Kira Dillon, Dawn Lincoln, and David
Murray, for the help moving in," says Varrin. In addition, "Double thanks to
David for taking about 800 pictures of our house as it was being built, so we
could watch it go up from afar." Varrin and Edi also hired their realtor's
nephew to do most of the work of unloading the truck. They did excellent work
for a reasonable price. Varrin recalls, "This is our third move into a new
house in eight years, and the first time the load in was completed without
dinging the walls or staining the carpet."
There were also some happy surprises for Varrin and Edi as they settled
into their new house in Keene. "It was refreshing to hear this question," says
Varrin. "'So who are you going to have pick up your garbage?' Having
dealt with city garbage in Florida, Kentucky and California, it was music to my
ears to hear that there's no monopoly trash pickup in New Hampshire."
"Also," he continued, "I've noticed many businesses here operate 'smaller',
so they're more family and customer oriented. For instance, on our first full
day here, Edi had to have a tooth extracted. The kids were sleeping in our
hotel room, so I couldn't pick her up. So one of the people in the dentist's
office gave her a ride back to the hotel. That would never have happened in
How will Varrin and Edi work to reduce the size of government in the Free
State, as all Porcupines intend? "We'll be working on delivering the liberty
message to the Christian community in New Hampshire," he says. "I'm also
looking forward to the town social and recreational events. Even though Keene
is roughly one-twentieth the size of the Fresno area, the atmosphere here is
cozy yet lively." He's also looking forward to trying to hook up with a band in
the Keene area (he plays mostly jazz drums), and figures he and Edi will be
hiking and mountain climbing in the summers, while skiing in the winters.
("I've skied twice and enjoyed it quite a lot the second time," he said.)
Overall, the portents are good, Varrin and Edi feel. "We embrace change for
the better," says Varrin with a laugh. "We radically embrace radical change for
the better! Freedom is like good health. You don't appreciate it until it's
gone. For the health of your family, it's worth it to live and promote freedom
in a place where you can make a difference. As a result of the Free State
Project choosing New Hampshire, this is now the finest place in the world to do
"Come and take a tour," he counsels. "Meet the people. Look for houses and
jobs. Explore the towns and enjoy a family vacation. Then when you go home,
Back to We Made the Move!
HomeSchooling Outreach success
by Will Albenzi · 9/10/04
The HomeSchoolers in San Diego had a fair today from 10am until 2pm.
SoCalFSP reached out to them at their event. It went pretty well and we made
several very valuable discoveries. We also made contact with about a hundred
people who already knew the government shouldn't be trusted alone in a room
with their kids.
We made contacts in the San Diego HomeSchooling community by building a
database for the HomeSchooling Resource Center to manage their Library. In
exchange for that work, they agreed to make sure our presentation (50
HomeSchooling tri-folds) were placed in view by the checkout desk. A few weeks
ago, they contacted us to let us know that we were welcome to set up a booth at
an event they were having. We only knew about it because they contacted us.
Well, the SoCalFSP decided to go there and dry-run the booth we were going to
set up for a gun-show in October while meeting people interested in the FSP
At 8:30 I arrived with the materials. It took about 40 minutes to make
sure that everything was neat and the projector was working. We had several
flyers and the projector was looping "101 reasons to move to NH". Phil Boncer
arrived and we finished folding the HomeSchooling Tri-Folds. The room we were
in got VERY hot. From about 10am until 11:30am we spoke to maybe a half a
dozen people. We saw them zoom past, never making eye contact with us. Around
11:30, Mary Albenzi arrived, and we decided that Phil could take off and to get
something productive done, while I pondered what went wrong (we thought this
was a bust). Of course things then really picked up. It got to the point were
I had to manage three conversations at a time. That afternoon we spoke with
about 50 people. We managed to introduce the FSP to a lot of people who were
Bring a woman to HomeSchooling Outreaches I was talking with my
wife about what a coincidence it was that stuff picked up right after Phil
left. My wife pointed out that it probably wasn't a coincidence. She said
that it was most likely two things: First, seeing two men at an event with
lots of little children might have set off the creepiness detectors in some
cautious parents. Second, two men sitting behind a table saying "freedom",
"Live what you believe", "Reason # 7... citizen's right to revolution"
positively SCREAMS unbalanced and dangerous militia-type organization to that
group. It might have been that my wife's presence made us "more normal".
Change the Slideshow The slideshow has great information, but
most people only glanced at the slideshow for a few seconds. Some possible
changes might involve reducing wordiness while keeping the subject matter, or
use a flash presentation like
Introduction to the
Philosophy of Liberty with moving images and few words to grab attention
and keep it.
Bring more membership packets I walked in with the idea that
more people would take the color "targeted" tri-fold than the color "general"
tri-fold, and more color "general" tri-folds than black and white Membership
Packets. So we kept count and observed. It turns out that at this event, with
very few exceptions, that when a person took a Tri-Fold, they took all the
available materials. When a person only grabbed one item, it was the
membership packet. The caveat is that this may be an unusual audience.
HomeSchoolers may be more interested in "content" than other groups we are
trying to reach. This should be tried several more times with different groups
before we can extrapolate behaviors from this data point.
Create material that specifically invites "friends" to help the FSP.
We ran into many people who thought it was a great idea, but could not commit
to a move. When I explained to them that there are ways to help even if you
cannot move, they became excited.
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Impressions of NH and the FSP gathering
by Phil Boncer 8/12/04
Kristine and I have just returned from nearly two weeks in NH. We drove
almost 1300 miles around the state, which isn't bad for a 200 mile long state.
We stopped in towns all over to gather info on real estate, zoning, available
amenities, local attitudes, and general impressions. We were open about our
intent to move to NH, and about our plans to try to buy a decent property, and
have on it our home, a wholesale yarn-dyeing business in a barn or outbuilding
that may employ up to 10 persons and would require a UPS delivery/pick-up,
possibly a small one-classroom private school, and likely a second barn for
hobbies and collections and such. We came back with two grocery sacks full of
real estate booklets, newspapers, zoning and building regulations, employment
ad papers, relocation packets, and assorted other literature.
We flew into Boston, arriving on the morning of 21 Jun (Monday), and rented
a car. That day we drove through Portsmouth, Exeter, Salem, Nashua, and stayed
the night at Stepping Stones B&B in Wilton (recommended; it was excellent and
fairly inexpensive). Portsmouth is nice but quite expensive. Exeter is nice,
but fairly expensive and has very strict zoning; they were not encouraging.
Small towns nearby may offer some possibilities. Salem and Nashua were
unenticing and not scenic, but offered cheap real estate, likely reasonable
zoning, and easy access to Boston. Nashua seemed to have the best selection of
ethnic restaurants of any city we visited in the state. Milford and Wilton were
lovely, and reasonable in cost. Zoning would require variances for our plans,
but the town clerks sounded positive about getting them.
Tuesday we went to Peterborough, Harrisville, Keene, and small towns in
between. Mostly lovely, a bit depressed around Greenville. Peterborough zoning
prohibitive. Harrisville dodgy, but other solutions possible, such as rening
one of the local mill buildings for the yarn business. Keene is quite nice, and
might be a good spot. Smaller towns in the area looked like good options were
available. We stayed at the B&B in Wilton again.
Wednesday we headed north. Bedford looked like a good possibility.
Manchester is a real city, and bears looking into; probably in the outskirts to
affordably meet our needs/plans. Many neighborhoods had signs prohibiting
trucks on their street at night, sometimes at all. Concord similar but
smaller. We then detoured west through Bath, Lisbon, Sugar Hill, and Littleton.
All very nice. Real estate is very reasonable up here. Zoning would require
variances for our plans, but the town clerks here again sounded positive about
getting them. This is all "above the notches", so weather will be more severe
and shipping costs for the business higher.
Wednesday evening through Monday morning we spent at Roger's Campground in
Lancaster. The gathering was fabulous, and we met many fine people and made
several new friends. There was a fine and refreshing lack of obvious nutcases
(something I admit to having been a bit worried about); by and large it seemed
a group of people who could move in and make a difference without alienating
everyone we came across. It was great to meet in person so many of those I've
corresponded with online. I was quite impressed with the FSP leaders as well.
Amanda is I think doing a fine job, and did well with the many press persons in
attendance. It was nice to see Jason again; good to see him get to relax a bit,
lovely to meet Mary. The organizers did a great job keeping it all rolling.
Thanks to George and Dave and Tim and all others! The Saturday evening BBQ was
a bit weak for the money, but it seemed that there were more people than
expected. I might suggest having speakers and vendors in different rooms next
time, which would allow both to conduct their affairs with less interference.
The press presence was amazing, both local and national. Most of them
seemed to be fairly positively disposed, and to have a reasonable understanding
of the movement. Articles in the papers over the next couple of days were
pretty fair and reasonably positive.
We did attend the NHLA dinner on Friday evening. It was well organized and
well attended. The speakers were interesting and even the food was decent!
Thanks to Mr. Murphy and the Pratts, as well as the many others I'm sure had a
hand in it. A small pack of liberals protested with signs. Their favorite
slogan seems to be "Government is not the problem." Sorry guys, but you're
wrong. Government is in fact, if not the entire problem, usually a big part of
We also went on the trip to Grafton on Sunday. It looked quite promising
for the longer term, but will need time and work, especially on Bob's land,
which is still very raw. Grafton is the closest cheap real estate to
Lebanon/Hanover where Dartmouth College is locaed, and might make a very good
investment. On the way back we took a look at Lebanon/Hanover, since there may
be industries there I can work in. These looked nice but expensive and probably
overzoned. Haverhill looked possible.
On Monday we left the campground and headed first up to Berlin, which
looked pretty active. The main employer in the town is a paper mill that makes
their paper "from scratch" as the librarians told us. Real estate is very
cheap. It's likely too far north for us, however. We then came back south and
toured the Lakes region. Pretty, but both very expensive and a little tacky
but mainly touristy with ski condos everywhere. Unlikely to be what we want.
We stayed in a campground and got rained on very heavily.
Tuesday we continued our tour of the lakes region, through Conway and the
Wednesday we went to Rochester, which looks depressed and a bit rundown.
Reasonable real estate and workable zoning probably available. Somersworth was
cute. We drove the beach/coast road; very posh and expensive, crowded. Parts
were scenic, but no thanks. Dover might offer some possibilities. We stayed
the night in Dover with Dave Mincin. Thanks, Dave!
Thursday we went back for another look at Exeter and Portsmouth, having
learned much more about what to look for. Our initial impressions were
comfirmed. We stayed at a B&B in Portsmouth, and had a fantastic (but
expensive) meal at a French restaurant called Lindbergh's Crossing. I highly
recommend it if you have the inclination for fine dining, it was worth the
Friday we walked Portsmouth some more. It's sort of more upscale touristy;
more art and less outlet malls. Then we drove back to Boston and flew home.
New Hampshire is beautiful almost everywhere, and livable in most
places. Almost all of the west half of the state looked pretty good; most of
the east half seemed unsuitable for us for one reason or another.
As usual, the cities seem more politically liberal than the
Several towns were incorporated in the 1800's, from parts of
surrounding towns. I asked around at the FSP fest if anyone had looked to see
if this was still possible, to create our own free town somewhere rather than
disrupt an existing order, and was told by several that it was not. I have
since found out, however, that Sugar Hill was incorporated in 1962, and that
there are a few unincorporated areas still existing (albeit mostly way up
north). I think further investigation is warranted.
NH natives are very nice and were almost universally welcoming and
friendly. Most had heard of the Free State Project, although many had not. None
gave us bad reactions to the concept (except for the protestors at the NHLA
Kristine and I are going, whether or not the FSP officially succeeds.
Even if nothing there improves, it's a very good place, and a damn sight better
We can certainly make a difference, and I think we can actually succeed
in our goals, as long as we are willing to take a long-term, respectful,
gentle, and patient approach. I think most NH residents are open to our ideas,
and will help us achieve a real freedom, provided we don't act like a bull in a
china shop, and piss everyone off before they get to know us.
Back to Guestbook
Michael Edelstein's Visit to NH
In March 2004,
Edelstein (currently a Friend of the FSP) and his wife Janice took a
trip to visit NH. On his return, Michael shared his experiences through an
interview with FSP Member Services Director
Tim Condon: Who are you two?
Michael Edelstein: We are a libertarian couple who live in San
Francisco and Tiburon, CA.
Ludwig von Mises defined liberty as "freedom from government".
Well, in that case, we love liberty!
What are the dates and times you traveled to the Free State?
We traveled to NH by United Airlines red eye on Thursday night 18 March @
1150 PM. We stayed until Monday morning.
Are you married, do you have kids?
We're married. Janice has two lefty adult daughters. They're bright despite
their sheep-like political views.
What are your educational backgrounds?
Janice has some college and I have a Ph.D. in psychology.
What do the two of you do for a living?
I'm a clinical psychologist and author (www.ThreeMinuteTherapy.com).
Janice is a retired Tandem systems analyst.
Where did you fly out of?
SFO to ORD to MHT on UA. (-;
How did you get around New Hampshire once you got there?
What research did you do about NH before you took off for there?
I'm somewhat familiar with NH. I lived on the East Coast (Brooklyn, NY) for
most of my life before moving to San Francisco. I also joined the LPNH for a
few years in the 80s.
I spent two summers at Camp Birchbrook in the White Mountains when I was in
single digits. I visited NH during many autumns for weekends of spectacular
colors. For a few years, I was part of an alternate lifestyle group, "Family
Tree," which had gatherings in Goffstown. I had a friend whom I visited in
Deerfield. And my sister lived in Hanover for many years with her husband, a
Dartmouth physics professor.
How did you find out about the Free State Project?
Through my active involvement with the libertarian movement.
What did you think when you first heard about the movement?
It sounded much more practical and reasonable than previous similar
libertarian attempts at creating free regions. And the individuals involved
seemed visionary, grounded in reality, and smart.
How did you get names and phone numbers to contact Porcupines in NH?
I started emailing people I found on the FSP Message Board and on the LPNH website.
Who were the people who were given as contacts?
Many, including Cal Pratt, Eric Knight, Tony Lekas,
and Tim Condon. But most notably, Dave Mincin. I had the most
phone and email contact before our trip with Dave. He was a delight to plan
with and of tremendous assistance.
What was the weather like when you got to NH?
We hit the winter/spring thaw, so we didn't ice-over immediately as I
feared we might.
What were your overall impressions of the state?
Beautiful, serene, civilized.
In our travels, just about everyone we spoke with seemed helpful and
friendly. Only on rare occasions did we get poor directions or recommendations
from the native non-FSPers.
Nothing was particularly notable, with the exception of some bikers and
cyclists without helmets, and no sales tax at EMS.
Where did you travel in New Hampshire?
Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth, Dover, and environs.
Why those places?
Should I move, I wish to live in or near a city. Should Janice move, she
prefers a more rural environment. And we only had three full days, so we could
not venture far from Manchester Airport.
Thinking of buying a place there?
This is certainly one option.
Who were the people you met with in NH who are involved in the Free
About ten FSPers at Friday dinner including Amanda Phillips,
John and Rosalie Babiarz, Martin Ekendahl, Tony and
Alicia Lekas, Cal and Karen Pratt.
Also, about twenty FSPers at the Seacoast lunch meeting in Dover including
Michelle and Jim Dumas, George Reich, Chris Gronski,
Julie and Ron DeCarlo, and Gregg Goss
After lunch Don Gorman and Dave Mincin took us on a
spectacular tour of Southeastern NH.
Were you surprised by anything that you saw or experienced in NH?
Yes. It was much quicker to drive from one town to the next than I had
envisioned from judging by the map.
I did not expect such a wide choice of excellent ethnic restaurants (Thai,
Indian, Vietnamese, Mexican).
The twenty-person turnout at the initial meeting of the Seacoast Porcs was
a wonderful surprise larger than the attendance of some of our monthly
San Francisco LP meetings.
Has your opinion changed at all about the Free State Project or New
Hampshire in any way as a result of visiting?
The enthusiasm, excitement, and dedication of the new arrivals to the
project is a cause for optimism.
When are you joining the Free State Project, and if not, why not? When
are you moving to the Free State, and if not, why not?
I'm active with the FSP Northern California Local Group.
I wish to spend time in the dead winter and summer in NH before deciding.
If I survive, it's a good sign!
Do you expect to get a part-time place in New Hampshire?
Currently, no plans for this or any other living arrangement.
Where would you be most likely to buy a place in NH?
Closer to the South.
What part of NH did you like the best?
Just about all we saw, with the exception of downtown Manchester which did
not seem all that inviting. Nashua and the surrounding area was quite nice.
When are you going back again?
The June Porcupine Festival.
Back to Guestbook
Many of the links in this needs fixing... mostly minor ones.
NOTE: The opinions and commentary expressed in this
essay are those of the author and are an exercise of free speech. They do not
necessarily represent the views of Free State Project Inc., its Directors, its
Officers, or its Participants.
Trip Report: New Hampshire
November 1 - 12, 2003
Written by: Varrin Swearingen
Experiences by: Varrin, Edi, Edison, and Erin Swearingen
Contents - This table of contents
Introduction - Introduction section
which includes these topics
Chronology - The chronological report of
Location detail pages - details for each location listed below
- info that applies to the whole state or areas not covered below
- includes seacoast - from east of Nashua along the border to the coast
to Portsmouth and back towards Manchester.
- includes Hudson
- just the Manchester and immediately surrounding area
- Does not include Keene or Lebanon
but the other towns west of I-93 and I-89. Does include Concord and Tilton
- just the city of Keene
- includes West Lebanon, Hanover, and Enfield
I am writing this report with the hope that it will help others out who
are exploring a move to New Hampshire. It is a detailed account of
our trip there in early November, 2003. On that trip we learned
more than we could have possibly learned without a report like
this. As far as I am aware, nobody has yet written this detailed
of a report about their New Hampshire exploration. We would have
found this useful and it is my hope that you will too.
In order to better understand the perspective of this report, I'll
relay some important background information about myself and my
family. Edi (my wife) and I were both born in 1974 and at the
moment we have two children, a son, Edison, born in 2001 and a daughter,
Erin, born in 2002. We would consider ourselves Christian and
regularly attend church, however we are not particularly closely tied to
any specific denomination. We normally find ourselves most
comfortable in Baptist, Evangelical Free or non-denominational
churches. Our circle of family and close friends includes
protestant Christians, Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims, and a variety of
'other' religious backgrounds.
I work as an airline pilot for World Airways. I also play the
drums and percussion professionally part time (mostly jazz and Latin
jazz) and enjoy working with computers (we use Linux in our
house). Edi is a homeschooling mother, currently serves as the
coordinator for two MOPS (Mothers Of PreSchoolers) groups, and is a Mary
Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. Edi also sings, most recently
with the Choir at our church and two different opera companies in
I was born in Hayward, California and moved to Fresno at age 3.
Edi was born in Maryland and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in
grade school and to Fresno in High School. We met in High School
and were married in 1993 at age 19. We moved to Florida (I had
actually moved there a year earlier to go to flight school) and lived
there between 1992 and 1996. We moved to the Cincinnati, Ohio area
(we actually lived in Northern Kentucky) in 1996 and lived there through
mid-1999. We moved back to Fresno, California in 1999 after
deliberating much like we are now as to where to relocate to. Edi
and I have both lived in several different states. She has visited
many of the states and I have visited almost all of them (45 of the
50). We have been to Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas together, and
I have traveled to over 30 different countries around the world while
playing music and flying for a living.
Our personal living preferences lean towards newer suburban living with
creature comforts (shopping, etc.) relatively nearby. We gravitate
towards larger more utilitarian housing and don't necessarily prefer to
have a lot of land (we prefer indoor square footage to land). I
enjoy the outdoors (I like to backpack) but, honestly, we spend most of
our time inside. Edi enjoys movies (much more than I do) and we
both enjoy live music and eating out. As a result of having kids,
much of our free time activities lately revolves around them. When
they're asleep, we enjoy playing games (I enjoy online gaming
occasionally but we both enjoy board games), cards, and good
We first heard of the Free State Project in mid-2002. At the time
I first visited the website, there were 400 or so people signed
up. After researching and discussing the project, Edi and I
decided to join. By the time we signed up, the project had grown
to over 1600 members. We opted out of 7 states including New
Hampshire. Some time before the vote, we decided that we would at
least go look at the winning state. The vote results were
announced October 1 and we began our visit to New Hampshire on November
1. The information in this report is one of the results of that
Because of the complexity of providing this information in a most
usable format, I will organize it in two ways: First,
chronologically on this page as an overview, and Second, by geographic
area. Providing a third level of organization (topical, for
example) is more than I have time to do right now. If you want to
know about real estate (for example), you'll have to search for that by
location. I'll use the same topical format on each area page to
make finding the information topically easier. Some information
will be statewide and will be included in the statewide
Each detail page will contain all the details we discovered about each
location. They will not include details about 'events' unless
those events were associated with characteristics of the area. An
example of details that would not
be included would be details about dinner conversation with various FSP
people or the details about my son's finger injury. Those details
(if included at all) will only be on the chronology page below.
Examples of details that would
be included would be details about the places we ate at with the FSP
people or the emergency room experience as a result of my son's finger
injury. Some pages will be dramatically more detailed than others,
since we learned more and/or spent more time in some places than
others. Generally speaking, I'll include all the detail I
have. If you have questions, please feel free to ask, but I
probably don't have any more detail than you can find here.
The detail pages will have the following headings (assuming information
- Real estate - information about land, new homes, and pre-owned
- Commerce and Restaurants - information about stores, restaurants,
and other places of business
- Churches - information about churches
- Events - information about or related to events
- Other - other information that doesn't fit the above (look and
Conspicuously missing is climate and job information. On the
chronology page I'll include weather
information about our trip, but because our trip isn't necessarily
representative, I'd urge you to do your own climate research. With
few exceptions (Lebanon, for example), I don't have any job information,
and in those cases that I do, it's very general. I am not looking
for a job so I didn't do any research about the job market at all.
Saturday, November 1 - location details here: Statewide, Nashua
We flew America West from Fresno through Phoenix to Boston. We
arrived in Boston around 11:00 p.m. We rented a Chevy Venture
minivan from Alamo. The rate was reasonable and we liked the
van. I have now driven all of the 'big-3' minivans (Ford, GM, and
Chrysler). This was the best of those I've driven yet. I
still prefer the Honda to all 3 of them.
We drove from the Boston airport to our hotel in Nashua. The
drive took roughly an hour. We didn't time it exactly. There
was construction on a bridge on 3 south of Nashua which required us to
exit and re-enter the highway. The weather was cool but not
terribly cold. Upon arrival in Nashua we found a 24 hour McDonalds
drive through and a 7-11 to get supplies for the evening and morning.
We checked into our hotel around 12:30 a.m. that night. We stayed
at the Extended Stay America hotel in Nashua. That location turned
out to be perfect for our entire trip. The hotel is in a business
area right off exit #8 (101A bypass) which is near the north end of
Nashua. We could not find a better rate for a newer chain hotel
with 'kitchen' facilities, hence our choice. We booked a Queen
room because that's the best room the website showed. Upon arrival
we discovered that the room was a little bit too small for us.
There is no couch, just a recliner. The kitchen facility is small
but functional. We all went to bed knowing we had all had a long
day and needed to get up the next morning for church.
We got up in the morning and got ourselves ready to go to church.
We attended Grace Fellowship Church in Nashua. We went to the
Burger King drive through, Market Basket (for 'supplies') and then
returned to the hotel. When we began to do our paperwork we found
out that there were King rooms available. We switched rooms which
gave us a bigger room with a bigger bed. That wound up being just
what we needed for the rest of the trip. We all napped, then got
up and headed to Manchester for dinner.
We had been emailing with several people who were going to be in NH
while we were there. We had Alan Weiss's cell phone number so we
coordinated what ultimately turned into dinner with Alan and some
others. We drove up to the Highlander Inn near the Manchester
airport. We met with Alan, Amanda Phillips, Tony Lekas and another
gentleman whose name I didn't catch enough to remember (pleeeease
forgive me... and because of the seating arrangement I didn't get a
chance to talk much with him - rats.). I sat between Tony and
Edison and across from Edi and Alan. The dinner conversation
covered all kinds of topics. Probably my most important
observation is that, though email is a spectacular tool for meeting
people and coordinating activities, there's no substitute for meeting in
person. I really enjoyed the dinner and feel as though I've made
some friends that would be great to live near.
Among other things, we talked quite a bit about education. Amanda
mentioned the Sudbury Valley School which struck a chord with me.
Tony is a homeschooler so we had plenty to talk about with respect to
the practicalities of homeschooling in New Hampshire. It sounds to
me from our conversations that New Hampshire does not have the best
homeschooling environment in the nation (compared to, say, Idaho), but
it's good enough to get started and, of course, we can improve it (I
At the end of the dinner we exchanged some contact information.
Tony invited us over to his place for dinner which. Unfortunately,
due to our ridiculous schedule we ultimately had to pass on that
generous offer. We headed out and drove back to Nashua and went to
We hadn't set up any meetings so we decided to use Monday to make phone
calls and then tour the southeast part of the state. We had also
contacted Kelton who was staying until Tuesday. We did have a
Monday evening meeting set up with Eric Knight in East Derry and Kelton
also wanted to meet Eric. Ultimately we devised a plan where we
would meet up with Kelton in the evening, go to Eric's, and visit for a
while. Since Kelton was going west that day we didn't attempt to
spend more of the day together.
We left late morning and headed on a church drive-by trip that would
ultimately take us on a substantial driving trip through much of the
southeast part of the state. We headed east from Nashua first to
Pelham, then Salem, then to the coast, up 1A from the MA border to the
ME border, up to Dover, then Durham, then back to Manchester for
dinner. After dinner we went down to Derry to visit Eric. As
you can see we covered a lot of ground.
Among the things we did while we drove: looked at a church in Pelham,
looked at a church in Salem, got some info about a house in South
Seabrook, drove the entire NH coastline (save a few feet between 286 and
the MA border), drove around New Castle, drove into Maine, drove by a
church in Dover, drove by a church in Durham, took 101 back to
Manchester. Details about all that are on the respective detail
We ate dinner at McDonalds near the airport in Manchester and at the
end of dinner Kelton showed up. He grabbed a bite and we headed to
Eric's house in Derry. We were a little bit late for our 7:00
appointment. Kelton had gone all the way to Keene and back and we
had gone all the way to Portsmouth and back (with plenty of stops along
the way), so we were simply running late after packed full days.
We arrived at Eric's around 7:30. Unfortunately it was dark while
we drove through Derry.
We spent, if I recall correctly, a little over an hour at Eric's house
and visited with Eric and his family. He told us some things about
the Derry and Londonderry area as well as some general NH things which
were helpful. We also got a tour of his house which, if things
went on schedule, he has likely now moved out of. Among other
things, we discussed towns, zoning, property taxes, and education with
Eric. We headed out sometime shortly before 9:00 p.m. Kelton
had an early flight home the next day so he went his way and we went
back to the hotel in Nashua.
Tuesday, November 4 - location details here: Statewide, Nashua, Western
Some of the days flow together but I believe we started Tuesday out
with Denny's for breakfast in Nashua. We spent a lot of time that
morning figuring out where we wanted to go and made some more phone
calls. We didn't get on the road until 2:30 p.m. We had
planned out a road trip for that day to look at land. Most of the
day was simply spent driving. By that time we had set up a
Wednesday appointment to tour a manufactured home factory and wanted to
have some insight on land prices and locations.
We drove north from Nashua, through Manchester, through Concord up to
Tilton. We had seen some lower price land listings in Franklin
which appeared to be closer to I-93 than some other less expensive
places. Franklin, however, was not a very attractive town.
We looked at a couple of pieces of land and then drove south on U.S. 3
back to Concord, checking out the towns along the way.
Tilton was a nicer looking town, though small, and had some important
stores (Wal-Mart, for example). Franklin (as I mentioned above)
wasn't so attractive. Going south from Franklin, we saw Boscawen
(or some of it anyway), then parts of Concord, some of which were
nicer. We took 202 west from Concord through Hopkinton to
Henniker. Hopkinton was very nice looking to me. For some
reason, Henniker just seemed small and isolated to me. From there
we went south on 114 to Weare. Weare was what I might call
'average'. Decent town, not much there though. From there,
we went through Goffstown to Manchester. Goffstown was larger and
had a few more 'things' there as I recall. By the time we got to
Henniker, it was dark, so we didn't have a great look at Weare or
Wednesday, November 5 - location details here: Statewide, Nashua, Western
We set up a meeting with Bob Lebel of RML General Contractor who builds
Epoch manufactured homes. Our meeting was to take a tour of the
Epoch factory in Pembroke, near Concord. The previous day we had
ruled out Franklin as a town to live in so we decided to investigate
another area that has low land cost: Hillsborough. Details of our
findings are on the 'Western' page. After touring Hillsborough, we
returned to Pembroke for our meeting. The tour went well.
The factory looked like a suitable place to build manufactured homes and
it appears to me (I'm no expert) that they build great homes
there. We also toured their model. Their model was set up
with lots of fancy upgrades in the downstairs to showcase what they can
do and basic trip for part of the upstairs to show what a base house
looks like. Both looked great, though some of the nice touches in
the kitchen and dining room were really nice.
After we finished our tour, we headed back to the hotel. That
evening, after doing some research, we decided to tour a couple of more
expensive lots in the Nashua and Hudson areas. Because of the land
prices and locations, we figured it would be worth taking a look just to
see if it would somehow be 'worth it' to pay more money and be closer to
a bigger city. We looked at several lots and called it a day.
Just as an aside, pretty much every day (or, more accurately, night),
we spent a considerable amount of time researching our next moves based
on what we found during the day. That meant pretty much a short
night of sleep every night. I was typically up until at least
midnight or 1:00 a.m. every night and we were out of bed by roughly 8:00
a.m. every morning (sometimes a little earlier). With all the
driving, looking, thinking, eating, diapering, talking, meeting, and so
on, it was a pretty tiring trip. But it was well worth the time
and money. There's no way we could have learned everything we did
just over the Internet or looking at pictures from a real estate
agent. Now, on with the show!
Thursday, November 6 - location details here: Statewide, Nashua, Western
Thursday brought us 'more of the same'. Having seen a couple of
lots in Nashua, we decided to look both at lots and at houses in Nashua
as well as a few in the surrounding area. After a 'relaxing' (read
me doing research while we all get ready) morning, we headed west
towards Wilton and Milford. We looked at a piece of land there and
then a couple more in Nashua.
When it got to be nap time, I took the family back to the hotel for a
nap and then went to visit another builder. I went to the Value
Homes. Value Homes is a builder for Excel modular homes of
PA. Their model was nice and I was able to get more specific
pricing information than I was from RML/Epoch. It appears to me
that Excel and Epoch are fairly direct competitors. I haven't
examined the spec sheets to the finest detail, but it appears both are
very nice, well built homes which rival or exceed the quality you'd get
in a site built house.
I returned to the hotel, picked up the family and we toured a little
bit more, this time heading over towards Hudson. I don't recall
now where we ate, but it may have been Denny's again. Throughout
the course of the week we ate at Denny's probably 3 times, Pizza Hut
once, a local pizza place once (Papa Gino's, I think it was called), and
several fast food establishments. Overall, we were happy with the
Friday we got a late start on our day. We decided to go back up
to Tilton to look around in a little more detail. There were a
couple of lots for sale that were less than what was available in Hudson
or Nashua. Nearby is Wal-Mart and the outlet mall and Concord is
just 20 minutes away. Tilton is right off I-93 and is at the
'base' of the lakes region. We looked at some lots there and then
headed back towards Nashua.
We did make an addional quick trip up to Manchester later in the day to
look at a house in town there. We drove around the neighborhoods
in the center of town and found them very pleasant, though older.
In the evening on the 7th, I started working on putting together our
trip for the next day. We decided to go to Keene for a tour and a
visit with a friend.
Saturday, November 8 - location details here: Statewide, Nashua, Keene
We got a late start (I don't recall why now, other than doing more
research) and were under way to Keene in the early afternoon. We
went by way of Manchester so that we could time the Manchester - Keene
drive. That added about 15 minutes to the trip which was almost 1
1/2 hours (including the detour). On the way, I spoke with our
friend (amidst losing cell service off and on). I got some church
information from him and we looked as we drove by at the church we wound
up going to the next day (Monadnock Congregational Church). When
we arrived in Keene, we got right into looking at land and homes.
We had mapped out about a half dozen places to look and drove fairly
quickly around town checking them out (with a stop at the UPS store
downtown along the way). Keene has much more to offer than Tilton
(details in the Keene page) and the property prices are a little lower,
I presume because of the 'perceived' distance from the metro
areas. There are several brand new stores in Keene and they're
building more by the minute. The Borders is brand new and the
Wal-Mart opened within the last year.
After we had toured the town, we arranged to meet our friend at Uno's
(yes, there's an Uno's in Keene). We enjoyed a great dinner there
together and he was able to tell us a few more things about the town and
we talked about several other things. Among them were the Acton
Institute, Keene State College, Economics, the relationship between
liberty and Christianity, and churches. After a great dinner we
headed back to Nashua. On the way back we were able to observe a
full eclipse of the moon. We were right on the outside of the area
where it was actually totally eclipsed but it went from totally full to
totally eclipsed in such a way that it was just a tiny sliver of 'halo'
around the bottom part of the moon. The kids particularly enjoyed
This brings to mined one important facet of our trip: weather.
The first several days it was rainy and cloudy. By late in the
week it had cleared up and was a little bit cooler (lows in the 30's
v.s. 40's). That particular night it was crystal clear. It
stayed clear until the day before we left when it started raining again.
Sunday, we went to Monadnock Congregational Church in
Peterborough. We arrived around 10:00 a.m. for their 'coffee' time
and then attended the 10:30 service. Details about the church are
on the 'Western' page. On Saturday, I had observed a sign at the
Colony Mill Marketplace indicating that Sunday, the 9th, was going to be
the Taste of Keene event. I assume that event happens annually so
I'll include the details about the event in the Keene section. We
enjoyed our lunch and shopping time there. The Colony Mill
Marketplace is a nice mall and the feel of the event reminded us of a
smaller, indoor version of the Taste of Cincinnati. We were
particularly pleased with our experience that day. The food was
outstanding, the atmosphere was wonderful and the people were friendly.
After the Taste, we headed back to Nashua to do some more research and
get another big night of sleep.
Monday, November 10 - location details here: Statewide, Nashua, Lebanon
We planned our Monday around the idea that we would do our last big
'tour' and save Tuesday for any last minute visits we needed to do
and/or just relaxation. That turned out to be a good plan since we
had a little accident on Monday night. We put together a list of
properties in and near Lebanon and hit the road in the morning.
After a stop for breakfast (Denny's again), we got a late morning start
up I-93. It took just over an hour from Manchester to
Lebanon. We decided to drive beyond Lebanon (across the river) to
Vermont since Edi had never been there before. We came back into
Lebanon (what they call West Lebanon) and drove around the 'commercial'
area. Lebanon has pretty much everything Keene has plus a Denny's
and a Best Buy. The town itself probably isn't quite as nice, but
it's not bad. We went up to Hanover which is much nicer (and much
more expensive) and is home to Dartmouth.
We looked at a couple of houses in Lebanon and West Lebanon and went to
Enfield to look at both houses and land. Enfield is about 15
minutes from the shopping (depending on where you are in Enfield) and
land prices there are very reasonable. It's primarily a Shaker
community. Details about the land and area are included with the
Lebanon section. We had attempted to make some phone calls on the
way to Lebanon but discovered that T-Mobile's service ends shortly after
leaving Concord on I-89 and doesn't pick up again... ever.
After we finished our Lebanon and area tour we headed back to
Nashua. The drive was easy and quick. We went briefly to the
hotel and then went out to dinner at Bickfords. This was our
second trip to Bickfords and though the food was generally decent, both
times what we got wasn't exactly what we expected. I guess they
just do things a little differently there than we anticipated.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel.
When we arrived at the hotel we had an unfortunate accident. As
Edi and Edison were getting out of the car, Edison got his finger (the
middle one on his right hand) caught in the car door as Edi was closing
it. He apparently reached in quickly at the last second, probably
not realizing the door was closing. Fortunately, only the tip of
his finger was caught in the door. Unfortunately, the small area
of his finger tip that was injured was injured very badly. We
quickly went in, got paper towels from the very helpful and nice lady at
the desk and I got directions to the Emergency Room. We got back
in the car and rushed to the ER at St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua.
I took Edison in while Edi parked and got Erin out. Because he was
screaming and there was blood all over his hand (and mine), the staff
figured out there was a pretty serious problem. After a very brief
wait (it seemed like 10 minutes so it must have only been one or two),
we were taken in to a room. I'll spare all of the details of the
care, but we're extremely pleased with the quality of the care we
got. They re-wrapped his injury after a doctor examined it.
They gave him some Tylenol with Codine, took and x-ray, determined that
the bone at the tip of his finger was broken (and the nail was missing),
and ultimately came and gave him four stitches.
Edison had calmed down substantially prior to the local, but that made
him very unhappy again. Then, a few minutes later, the doctor and
a nurse came back to stitch up his fingertip (what was left of it, which
I think was most of it). Edison was a trooper but he screamed
quite a bit throughout that procedure. I'm not 100% sure the local
completely numbed the pain, though I'm confident the Tylenol/Codine was
helping substantially by that time. They wrapped it up with tube
gauze, gave us some instructions and we headed out. I think we
were there something like 3 1/2 hours. The whole time, Erin was as
well behaved as I've ever seen her. It was obvious she knew
something was wrong and she did just exactly what we told her the whole
time. That was particularly amazing considering we didn't get out
of there until after 11:00 p.m.
Having gone through that experience, we knew we would want to just take
the next day off.
Tuesday, November 11 - location details here: Statewide, Nashua
We slept later on Tuesday than we did any other day of the trip, mainly
because Edison wasn't interested in getting up before 8 a.m. as he had
been every other morning. He was obviously feeling substantially
better but was very tired and occasionally still in a little bit of pain
(we'd have to ask him about it to find that out though). We mostly
slept, did research, and got ready to go home the next day. We
took advantage of kids-eat-free-night at Denny's and called it a day.
Wednesday, November 12 - location details here: Statewide, Nashua
We got up early Wednesday and checked out of the hotel. There's
lots of construction on 3 between Nashua and I-95. As a result,
the drive time from the hotel to the Boston airport was about an hour
and a half instead of the hour we planned. Fortunately we had left
enough time to make our flight. We returned our rental car (loved
it) and headed to the America West ticket counter. We discovered
upon check in that there would be a tech stop for fuel on the way back
in Denver. That caused us to miss our connection in Phoenix, but
they were able to accommodate us on a flight three hours later.
Copyright 2003 Varrin Swearingen - to reproduce in any way (in whole or
in part), please contact the author at: varrin at varrin dot com.
NOTE: The opinions and commentary expressed in this
essay are those of the author and are an exercise of free speech. They do not
necessarily represent the views of Free State Project Inc., its Directors, its
Officers, or its Participants.
California libertarians have been fighting a losing battle against
pandering politicians for a very long time. In recent years, we've lost
countless freedoms and even more dollars to the government machine. After
being grabbed by the throat so many times and being told that we can no longer
do this or own that, even the most politically apathetic among us are going to
start looking at alternatives.
The dismal showing of pro-liberty candidates in the 2004 elections proves
that liberty is a lost cause here. Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, running for
U.S. Senate, was arguably California Libertarians' most marketable candidate in
decades. He put considerable energy toward getting press, to be allowed into
the debates, to demonstrate that he had real solutions backed by real world
experience. Most of these efforts were futile. Without any significant
recognition by the duopoly or the media, his candidacy was doomed. He received
1.7% of the vote.
So where does the freedom loving San Franciscan look to escape?
There are a few other major cities in the US with a counterculture feel,
cosmopolitan atmosphere, appreciation for the arts, and tolerable weather. One
might consider Seattle, if it weren't for the fact that that they too have a
motorcycle helmet law in effect in Washington State. And apart from existing
businesses that were grandfathered in, the health Nazis have banned smoking
within city limits. How about Austin? The leftists who control that city are
also following in the footsteps of SF. Not only that, but the conservatives in
control of the great state of Texas are busy making their chosen intolerances
into law. New York? Fuhgedaboutit.
In looking at the major cities of the USA, one will eventually come to the
grim realization that it is not possible to evade the statists' power by simply
running to another metropolis. They are all just a year or two behind San
Francisco in the erosion of liberty. You, dear libertarian reader, will need
to open yourself up to other possibilities. What is needed is a place where the
people have a strong cultural respect for personal freedoms and
Enter the Free State Project, a plan for the scattered individuals
who value freedom to come together in one state in order to put libertarian
values back on the political map. The project has no illusions about achieving
an instant libertarian majority. The aim is simply to have some influence on
politics at the state and local levels. A chance to find out if those famous
words of Margaret Mead still hold true; whether a minority group of activists
really can still make a difference.
There are currently four states in the Union that have no helmet law. One
of those states is the only one that allows adults to choose whether or not to
wear a seat belt. It's the safest state in America, with less crime than
Switzerland. Perhaps not coincidentally, that state is also the least
restrictive of the right to keep and bear arms. It is one of a few States that
can lay claim to having nearly one third of registered voters who do not
affiliate themselves with either the Republicans or Democrats. This state is
among the lowest taxed in the country. The state is New Hampshire,
chosen for these and many other reasons by the participants of the Free State
Project. New Hampshire's State motto is, appropriately, "Live free or die."
New Hampshire is no libertarian utopia. It has lots of room for
improvement, and a couple of distinct drawbacks. For example: Alcohol is even
more heavily regulated than here in California. No third parties (such as the
Libertarian Party) are officially recognized. The weather can be brutal. The
good news is that all but the last have real potential to be changed.
In most places, it's difficult to get enough libertarians together to hold
a picnic. In New Hampshire, social events with more than 100 people are
common, but it's much more than a support group. They are making real,
honest-to-goodness progress. Libertarians are winning major elected offices,
delivering successful ballot initiatives, and publicly taking a stand against
that which they believe to be immoral. While there are dedicated libertarian
activists here and in other states doing great work, this concentrated
effort in New Hampshire seems the best (and perhaps only) chance to achieve
"Liberty in Our Lifetime."
Morey Straus is a Free State Project participant, currently living in
San Francisco with his non-libertarian partner and two cats, all of whom think
he is nuts.
Back to Essays
Richard Benjamin Boddie
Dick Boddie is the President and Founder of The Motivators, a professional
speakers bureau in Huntington Beach, is also an adjunct professor in Political
Science (which by the way, is not a science by any stretch of the imagination)
and History at Coastline Community College in Costa Mesa and Garden Grove,
California, in addition to being an Independent Associate with Pre-Paid Legal
Services, Inc. (NYSE), and well known raconteur.
[Among a whole host of other groups, companies, affiliations, and
associations, past and present such as: "Citizen Advocate" a Public
Broadcasting Corporation (PBS) sponsored television ombudsman show on
WCNY-TV in Syracuse, NY; Eastman Kodak Company; New York Life Insurance
Company; Wells Fargo Bank; Xerox Corporation; National Center For Dispute
Settlement - American Arbitration Association; was the first Director of
Admissions at the new Chapman University School of Law in Anaheim, California;
hosted a talk radio show "Black To White" on WAXC-AM in Rochester, N.Y.; was
a New York State Administrative Hearing Oficer, ...]
Richard was born (in Elmira, N.Y.) and raised in "upstate" New York (which
means "NOWHERE NEAR New York City", Long Island, New Jersey or
Connecticut...) in the once famous city of Rochester. The son, grandson, and
great grandson of Baptist ministers, he has the honor and distinction of having
been the first black youth to ever achieve the rank of Eagle Scout (BSA) in
Rochester, and was also the first African American to become a bank executive
in that city's history.
[which by the way was also the home of two great American activists: women's
suffragette, Susan B. Anthony, and the dynamic Abolishionist, Frederick
Douglass, Boddie's "spiritual mentor"]
As both a former Democrat and former Republican, Richard B. Boddie** is quite
well known for his political activism over the years, having been the
president of the Student Bar Association while in law school, an anti war
activist, and community organizer in the 60s; Congressional aide, and
executive with the American Arbitration Association in the 70s; a motivational
speaker and political activist; a fund raiser and road manager for the 1984
Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, and he himself also sought that same
position in 1991 for the 1992 Presidential race. Richard did run for the
U.S. Senate in 1992 and 1994 in California, and for Congress in the 46th
District of CA in 2000, and served as Chair the Orange County Libertarian Party
1996 - 1998, and was also the Press Secretary for the Steve Kubby for Governor
campaign in California in 1998.
Dick Boddie is a graduate of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania,
and holds a law degree from Syracuse University (also in "upstate" NY, where
it gets VERY cold each winter, a major reason why he lives in Orange County
* Boddie is pronounced "body"
** For the record, in the Rev. Jacob Benjamin Boddie clan or "downline",
there are (were) four (4) different men with the name Richard: Rev. Richard
Edward Boddie (son of JB), Richard Benjamin Boddie (herein above), Richard
Grant Boddie (son of Richard Edward), and Richard Edward Boddie, II (son of