We Made the Move: Angela and Emmett Harris
After the winds of Winter Storm Nemo had subsided and the raspy protests of shovels scraping pavement commingled with the mechanized purr of snow blowers moving mounds of nature’s frozen tears, we took a much needed respite from our participation in the clearing activities to reflect on our new life in the Granite State. The two of us have been through our share of winter storms, but Jeremy, our teenage son who made the move with us, left New England before he had developed a full appreciation for some of the nastier offspring Old Man Winter and Mother Nature can create. For the better part of the past decade, and hence the majority of his life, we had lived in the balmier climes of North Carolina. Freezing temperatures weren’t foreign, but their stay was usually brief and rarely were they accompanied by more than a dusting of the white stuff. That said, you might suspect that a generational storm would dampen our enthusiasm as one of the newest families to officially move to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project. On the contrary, we found Nemo to be a welcome challenge, telling us it‘s time to put up or shut up. One snow storm isn’t enough to make us reexamine our pursuit of “Liberty in Our Lifetime.”
Our journey to the Free State ended up being a long one. We had heard about it while we were living on Cape Cod. At the time, a state had yet to be chosen. Though we knew New Hampshire was in the running, our family was rapidly outgrowing our starter home (in addition to Jeremy, we have two older kids who are in college) at a time when one of the innumerable Fed bubbles was manifesting in skyrocketing real estate prices. New Hampshire’s home market was rising as fast as the market in Massachusetts, so instead of making the trek north of the border, we began eyeing property in the South. The bubble’s effect down there wasn’t as severe and we were able to find a larger home without breaking our diminutive bank.
As time passed, the nascent Free State Project faded for us. Our love of liberty was still strong and growing, but our attention was focused on more proximate activism; we found North Carolina has a vibrant liberty community. Unfortunately, unlike New Hampshire, the size of the Tar Heel State’s population tends to dwarf most efforts to create a freer society. But, through our involvement with various groups there, we ended up meeting local activists who told us about a week-long event called PorcFest that takes place in the Great North Woods. It didn’t take much convincing for us to plan the trip and, in the process, the Free State Project was thrust back into the forefront of our minds.
The 2011 Porcupine Freedom Festival was damp, cold, and the most fun we’ve ever had in our lives! Being in a place with more than a thousand individuals who value and espouse liberty was like a Great Awakening. This is how life could be! PorcFest offered a concrete example of a freely-functioning community. It was truly amazing to behold. By the close of our second day, we decided that it was time to move beyond the baby-step of Free State Project signatories and take the giant leap towards creating that better world now. We were going to make the move.
While we wanted to relocate immediately, it ended up taking us about a year and a half (and another PorcFest) to finalize our move. At last, we were on the road to the Free State! We were a bit concerned about traveling north in the middle of winter; inclement weather can turn a long trip into a grueling nightmare. Providence must have been on our side because nary a flurry fell. The only hindrance was a stretch of fog beginning in Pennsylvania. It was thick and at times made us fear we would veer from the road, but we stayed the course. Then, at last, the fog lifted … and we were home.
We arrived in Manchester in the middle of January and, despite the cold weather, were warmly welcomed into an instant community of like-minded friends. Within our first two weeks, we mingled at a Porcupine “happy hour” at Strange Brew, joined the audience at the Artsy Fartsy Party where we met a sizable group of other Free Staters, and went to a fundraiser to assist an activist get her wheels back under her. We attended the monthly Merrimack Valley Porcupines meeting and a New Movers party and received notice of multiple rallies, hearings, and other activist events to choose from. The most challenging part of the move thus far has been finding a calendar big enough to fit all the political and social happenings in the area!
Although we have only been here a short time, we look forward to taking part in the vibrant and motivated Free Stater community. If our first few weeks are any indication, we have an exciting road ahead of us. Moving to New Hampshire was the right decision.