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Question: “Hi James, I've relied on writing in my career and personal life, and it has served me well. But it's hard for me to imagine that I would have learned it as well or as thoroughly if writing exercises hadn't been forced on me in school. I can't imagine a situation where I would have chosen to take a class that required writing more than one or two essays. But since they were required, both at school and in college, I muddled through them and in the process became a pretty good writer.
Do you ever worry that your kids won't pick up proficiency in things that will serve them well but aren't very appealing on their surface? Writing essays = not appealing. Being able to write well for the rest of your life = priceless. At least for me this has been true. And as much as I didn't enjoy certain aspects of school, I am seriously grateful for being forced to write. This is the constant struggle I have between the philosophy of letting children be free, which I adore, and the reality that some things that will likely make life better and easier in the long run are unattractive in the short run. I'd love to read your thoughts on this!”
Arizona might not be the most common origin state for an FSP participant. Though not quite as free as New Hampshire, Arizona is toward the free end of the scale, particularly in comparison with neighboring California. In fact, the Grand Canyon State is full of freedom-seeking refugees from California, not unlike New Hampshire’s situation with neighboring Massachusetts. But having been born in New England, and despite not having lived here since around my early teen years, nowhere else has ever felt quite like home. I have always felt some odd pull back to this place, even stronger than the lure of the mild Arizona winters (although I could do without another 115°F summer).
Since moving to New Hampshire, Liam and Samantha Leane have dedicated countless hours to volunteering and promoting the Free State Project. They produced Liberty Forum 2012 and 2013 as well as PorcFest 2014. With their hard work and attention to detail, these were some of our most successful events!
Although not originally from this country, Liam found his forever-home with his wife Samantha in the Merrimack Valley of New Hampshire. They both believe strongly in the hard work it takes to build a community and to create a meaningful life. Like many others around New Hampshire, their chosen community is a wonderful group of Porcupines who get together on a regular basis, sharing stories of each other's lives and ideas on how to improve them.
For the past few years, Samantha has continued to volunteer for Liberty Forum, taking care of registration and making sure check-in goes smoothly. This is no simple task, but with her wicked organizing skills and general know-how, she and her team make it look easy and get the job done.
What an amazing Liberty Forum! It was motivating, educational, and exciting to engage with so many liberty lovers from all over the country. More than one third of our attendees were from out of state, and one quarter were visiting for the first time. What a great opportunity to see the event with fresh eyes. Thanks to Mel and Richard Gibson who put together a tremendous event, full of great speakers, controversial debate, and a full load of networking.
Of course, now that I have the stage, I also have the chance to thank the rest of our hard-working team. Every one of our lead coordinators worked their tails off to bring you a million dollar event. Christine Butler is as always her graceful and dignified self, even in the face of last minute Events Directing chaos. Mary Sorens battled the flu (!) and even in the face of that hard fought battle rocked out social media, spreading tweets (not germs) throughout the event. Chris Lopez managed off-site dinners (for the first year ever) bringing speakers closer to our attendees and activating 20 local volunteers to take on the task of hosting these unique gatherings.
Carol and I, along with our four children, came from Wisconsin’s Milwaukee area. I was working for Tesla Motors in Grand Rapids, MI, but we did not want to stay in Michigan at all. We were thinking about heading back to Wisconsin when we decided to look into a possible move to New Hampshire. It was then that we were introduced to the Free State Project and we met Mary in the Facebook group. We knew it was where we belonged and where our new adventures awaited.
We moved, with the help of some very good Free State people, into our new home in Pembroke, NH. There were resources for everything we needed within the Free State Project and, although moving can be expensive and stressful, having other like minded people around us, lending a hand, offering advice, and helping with home searches, made it much less stressful.
The people here are wonderful. The area offers so much from outdoor adventure to excellent shopping. We are within an hour of mountains, Boston, the seacoast, and some of the country's most beautiful, clean and breathtaking forests, trails and waterways.
Buying a home in a new state can be a daunting experience. Porcupine Real Estate has compiled some of the most frequently asked questions by out-of-state buyers.
Q: How do I go about scheduling a showing?
A: It’s very important that you contact us to schedule a showing for you. As buyer’s agents, we have a fiduciary duty to you. That means that we represent you and your best interest in every transaction.
Q: Who pays your commission?
A: The seller is responsible for paying all commissions. There is no cost for buyers.
Q: Will you recommend a good lender?
A: We highly recommend using a NH-based lender who knows the local market. We have established relationships with lenders who will honor the deadlines set forth in the Purchase & Sales Agreement. The lenders with whom we work are service-oriented and require less follow-up and oversight.
Andy writes: I learned about the Free State Project a few years ago when I was living in California working a good job with a government agency. I planned to fly to New Hampshire to attend PorcFest 2016 and to check out the area, but I came down with a health issue that forced me to cancel my plans. It became increasingly difficult for me to work, and in early 2017 I ended up taking early retirement. At that time, I knew I could no longer live in high-taxed and overpriced California on my pension income, so I looked at more affordable places in the country and decided to try going to PorcFest again. I made the long drive from California to Lancaster in June 2017 and attended the festival.
At PorcFest, I met other free state movers and met realtors from Porcupine Real Estate. I drove around New Hampshire after the festival to see which areas would be a good fit for me and my budget. I liked Keene because there seemed to be a lot of people interested in cryptocurrencies, and I liked the walk-ability of the city.
"Thursday homeschool snowboarding day!" ~ Paige Eden Savell
"An estimated 600 homeschool supporters turned out yesterday afternoon to oppose House Bill 1263 (HB 1263), a bill that would roll-back the annual reporting requirement. Nearly every seat in Representatives' Hall was taken, the anteroom and upstairs gallery were filled, and families spilled out into the hallway." ~Michelle Levell
"INCREDIBLE turnout of fellow homeschoolers today! I'm so proud to be a part of this passionate homeschooling community. We've packed the house! #NHitslikethistoo" ~Sarah Chamberlain
"When you threaten New Hampshire's homeschoolers, the House gets packed." ~Bill McGonigle
"What a fantastic day in NH! I would not want to homeschool anywhere else." ~Lauren Lawless
"I went to the grocery store on our way home from the library today. I had the twins with me. The cashier asked if school was closed today. I said, 'They are only four.' Her response: 'Well send them to a day care!' Before I could answer, my Charlie looked her dead in the eye and said, 'We are homeschoolers. We care for our day already.'" ~Paige Eden Savell
Liberty Forum 2018 is proud to present a free public showing of The Heroin Effect, an award-winning documentary on the opioid crisis, featuring a discussion with Director Michael Venn, who received the 2017 NH Filmmaker of the Year Award.
WHEN: Saturday, February 10, at 9:15pm
WHERE: The Radisson Downtown Manchester, Pemigewasset Room
ADMISSION: Free. Please consider bringing a warm coat to donate.
RSVP ON FACEBOOK: or just come!
One of the most common things I hear when talking to people who are interested in unschooling is that they are concerned that their family, usually their partner or parents, are too scared to try it. This can be painful for everyone involved.
If you want to try unschooling, you believe that a life of self-directed learning may be the best path for your child. You love the idea of giving them a freer life, one where they can explore their passions as deeply as they wish in an environment that respects them as whole people.
But this new way of thinking about education may terrify the other people who love your child. They (and likely everyone they know) have gone through a particular educational system. Some may have gone to private school, and some may have gone to public school, and maybe a few were homeschooled. As for kids doing what they wish to do all day? Your family members likely know no one who has followed this path to its completion. So it makes sense that they are scared, right?
"Sledding before 8:30 AM. Rough life." ~Paige Eden Savell
"Made it to homeschool gym! 6 inches is a dusting! #HomeschoolIsLikeThisToo #ColdWeatherKids #NewHampshireHasItAll" ~Rani Merryman
"The vote is 184 to 162. Education Savings Account Bill: SB 193 passes!!!!!! It will go to the House Finance Committee sometime soon. Today is a huge day for NH children!! Celebrate tonight, back to work tomorrow!!" ~Michelle Levell, School Choice for New Hampshire
"NH bars have the best reading material. Nothing like reading a little Gödel, Escher, Bach while enjoying a glass of Tabula Rasa or Victorty nor Defeat." ~Jeffrey Creem
"When you get a new doctor and he knows about the Free State Project, FreeKeene, and he voted for Gary Johnson." ~Stephen Nass
"How much do I love my little community? Made it home with no problems until I got stuck in the driveway, in the dark, no less. Put out a message and within 10 minutes I had 4 people respond to help me out. I was out in 30 minutes and he plowed the driveway, too. Love this place, love these people. #snowpocalypse2018 #NHitslikethistoo" ~Lisa Cole
(Photo by Paige Eden Savell)
Rhonda was born and raised in New Hampshire and since finding us in 2011, is a Free Stater. She got to know other Free Staters at PorcFest that year and after making tons of friends, soon began to volunteer for groups like the NHLA. By 2016 she was planning the Annual NHLA Liberty Dinner!
At Liberty Forum and PorcFest you will find her smiling face at the PorcFest table, ready to give you information or point you in the direction you’re looking for. She is a cheerful and tireless volunteer who makes herself available to event producers and is willing to fill in wherever needed.
Not only will you find Rhonda volunteering at Liberty Forum and PorcFest, but she is also the volunteer coordinator for the Free State Project! She keeps track of those available to volunteer and makes sure that the producers have the volunteers they need.
MANCHESTER, NH (January 3, 2018): The Free State Project is pleased to announce the appointment of Rachel Goldsmith as Interim Executive Director, effective immediately. Rachel takes over managerial responsibilities from Matt Philips.
“We are thrilled to welcome Rachel to this role,” said FSP founder and Chairman of the Board, Jason Sorens. “She has excellent operational skills and has expressed a commitment to continue to build and strengthen our growing community.”
Rachel has spent the last two years learning the ins and outs of the FSP, first as an event volunteer, and then as the Director of Operations. During this time, she was lead coordinator for sponsorships, developed recurring content to promote the FSP, and spearheaded outreach efforts. In addition to an MBA, Rachel’s professional background and business experience include fundraising, marketing, and event production.
While nobody likes paying property taxes, there’s no way around it for homeowners. In New Hampshire, there is a process by which you can challenge your property tax assessment to lower your property tax bill, known as the “abatement” process.
The tax abatement application must be submitted to your town/city by March 1st. If you think your house is disproportionately assessed at a value much higher than the assessments of comparable properties in your town, then it is worth going through the process. The first step is to request an abatement form/application from your town Assessor’s office. They can mail it to you or it may be readily available on the town’s website.
Note that assessed value is not the same as market value. The state uses an “equalization rate” to adjust the net assessment as market values increase or decrease overall based on market conditions. The town Assessor or selectman’s office can walk you through those numbers. By law, towns have to reassess at least every five years, but most do it more frequently.
Chip Spangler has been in NH since 2015, and has been an unstoppable force for liberty since long before that.
For over 15 years, Chip has been involved with the Libertarian Party: he was Chair of the Maryland LP, a party officer in Alaska, and currently serves as the Vice Chair for the Southern New Hampshire LP. Since moving to New Hampshire, Chip has been actively volunteering at both Liberty Forum and PorcFest as god of AV, Fr33Aid, and Logistics. He holds the key to our hearts, and also the storage unit.
But that’s not all! Every single month, Chip is the MC for two monthly meet-ups in Manchester. The first Saturday of the month you will find him at the mic for the Merrimack Valley Porcupine meet-up (check out the calendar for upcoming locations), and on the first Tuesday of the month he has rocked New Movers Parties, welcoming all the incoming Porcupines with big hugs and a big heart. Shout out to Patrick Donald Binder for taking over that role. You have big shoes to fill, my friend.
Ah, winter in New Hampshire...a picturesque time of snow-covered villages, frozen streams and ponds, and carolers with hot cocoa. New England winters are lovely, with much to see and do...but the weather can feel brutal, especially if you are new to the area. Be ready for the challenge and stay safe with these tips:
During and after the first good storm, people will drive recklessly, so be sure to give yourself extra distance. Defensive driving is key. Slow down.
While not necessary if you live in the city, a set of winter tires or studded snow tires can make driving during a storm safer.
If you live outside of the city (or on the outskirts) you will lose power at some point. Electricity is usually restored within 12 hours, but we've seen several days of prolonged outages. Alternate heat sources (like wood stoves) are especially useful during an outage. Many people find they need a supply of bottled water for drinking and flushing toilets. A generator is good to have on-hand for times like these, but you'll need a transfer switch installed at the electrical panel to use a generator.
Liberty Forum 2018 is coming to Manchester, New Hampshire, in less than three months! A schedule of fascinating presentations and panels is almost complete and will be published in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we have a few more slots to fill.
Speakers from around the world have presented at Liberty Forums past, and we're excited to hear from this year's lineup of thinkers and doers. If you or someone you know would make a great addition to the schedule, please let us know with an official request or an informal email.
"I think the good General would be proud of how hard we fought today. It is a good day for school choice in NH. SB 193 passed committee." ~Victoria Wojdylak Sullivan
"ESAs, or any school choice program, aren’t going to 'make education cheap.' What they can do is allow families to spend more money on alternative learning methods. The additional money will be targeted to individual children, by parents, to let them find their own paths. This already happens in the existing New Hampshire town-tuition program. Croydon students that were failing in public school were allowed to try a Montessori school (which, as most private schools do, charged less than the public school), and they thrived. ESAs will bring many more choices to thousands of other New Hampshire children." ~Bill Walker
Types of Permits
Porcupine Real Estate often gets questions on zoning regulations in New Hampshire. Much like property taxes, zoning laws and ordinances vary from town to town. If you're considering a property and plan to do any major improvements like building a garage, putting livestock or other animals on the property, cutting down several trees, or something similar, you will want to check with the town before you proceed.
Town Permitting Processes
While each town has its own permitting process, if you're doing your own work on your house, the permit requirement is often waived. We recommend checking with your town to confirm prior to starting work.
The State and the Septic System
One exception to the permit process is septic systems, which are regulated on a statewide basis. If you're building a new system, you'll have to get state approval for the system regardless of the town. If you're building within the minimum setbacks of a body of water or wetlands, you'll need state approval.
It's so good to be home! We learned of the Free State Project about two years ago. We were from Grand Rapids, Michigan, a bustling city with a culture of political extremes. We researched New Hampshire and realized not only was the FSP great, but the beautiful Granite State also offered freedom from sales tax (6% in MI), low crime, and excellent job prospects. We planned a visit (last year) and felt so at home here among the Free Staters! From interesting meetups to great conversations with other liberty minded people we knew, this was the place for us, and we started planning our move soon after.
It was a tough choice deciding where exactly we wanted to be, since each region is so unique and has a lot to offer. Among our biggest considerations when selecting a place to live was a wholesome community for our daughter to grow up in. Coming from a bigger city, we were all too aware of some of the issues that come with it (crime, school quality, water and air quality, etc) but still wanted easy access to important amenities such as healthcare and shopping/entertainment.