Let’s see if I have this week’s local news straight… It is not OK for F&G to shoot a bear that is invading homes (I’m glad they’re not); but it IS OK for police and state troopers to shoot an alleged car thief in his mom’s car four times; it IS OK for the AGs office to take a week to even release the names of the parties involved and to clear all 3 officers of any wrongdoing (has the AGs office *ever* found a shooting unjustified? I mean, even when the cops shoot someone in the back while he is fleeing a scene, and kill him, it’s A-OK); it is also OK for progressives to call for the forced sterilization of free staters, an idea so great, Sherry F*cker Frost “loves” it! #nhpolitics
Since I was little, I have been interested in mountaineering, and Everest in particular–thanks Reader’s Digest, one of the few “international” news sources available in South Africa under sanctions. Louis and I hiked to Annapurna’s base camp in 2002 (world’s 10th highest peak), a spiritual journey for me, and I have a deep love for that part of the world.
The documentary SHERPA is definitely worth a watch. It’s like “Arab Spring” at the base of Everest, mixed with people power, passion, capitalism, danger, corrupt government, a simpler time/desires, and greed. It strikes me the lack of clear property rights is what is causing the problems.
Who wants to buy Everest with me (this is probably super insulting to Nepalis, sorry!), and let the Sherpas decide how many people and at what price should climb their god annually? It won’t be cheap… Going rate per climb season is $360 million in total, of which a third goes to the government, Sherpas (about 300-400) receive $5,000-ish each, and the rest, I assume, goes to the western expedition leaders. I say we can do better than that! (Pic is Mount Annapurna, and I took it.)
We’re ramping up for Liberty Forum, March 5-8, 2015 in Manchester. For the first time, many libertarian think tanks will be in attendance–Cato, Charles Koch Institute, Mercatus, and FEE–a very good sign that shows the FSP is now regarded as a real contender for the future of freedom. I hope you will attend. This would give you an opportunity to meet the community first-hand and see what is transpiring on the ground.
From an organizational standpoint, we are going from strength to strength. Jason Sorens, the founder of the FSP, cofounder of Ethics and Economics Education of New England, and lecturer at Dartmouth College, has rejoined the board, and is now VP. It’s exciting to have him back!
We saw many successes in 2014:
Received 501c3 status, which has allowed us to leverage Amazon Smile and AdWords grant
We expanded the board, and new board members commit to $10K+/year
Approximately 1,200 new signers; 135 new movers (keep in mind no one is obligated to move yet)
18 Free Staters have been elected to the state house, the most so far. It is imperative that we Trigger the Move asap, so that more activists can run and win
Released a new, independently made documentary “101 Reasons Liberty Lives in New Hampshire” (23,000 views) and new “It’s Like This Too” mover profiles on the Voices for Liberty Channel
Strong social media growth, averaging 400 new page likes per week, with almost at 70,000 on Facebook, and almost 62,000 followers on Twitter
Media coverage in The Economist, NYT, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reason, etc.
Our goal for 2015-2016 is two-fold:
- Garner remaining signers (3,666 as of this writing) and Trigger the Move
- Reach out to all past participants and encourage them to move/find signers
Take a look at the draft Strategic Plan I sent the board, which outlines our mission, vision, target markets, current marketing efforts, and identifies new ones. Also attached is a Participant Statistics Monthly Performance Report for November 2014. You’ll note a few things: 1. Our biggest spikes in signers comes from mainstream media coverage (e.g. the jury nullification case, the Concord BEARCAT incident, and when a sitting Democrat said Free Staters are the single biggest threat to the state of NH); 2. the second largest spikes are around our FSP hosted events, Liberty Forum and PorcFest; and 3. the current Trigger the Move date is early 2018. We want to accelerate this. With your support, we can. If we double our recruitment rate in 2015, we will Trigger the Move in early 2016.
Our current signer acquisition rate is $100 (this increased from the historic $81 due to my transitioning into a full-time, paid position). If we are to Trigger the Move in 2016, we need to raise $366,600 as soon as possible. We are working on a capital campaign which will launch in Q1 2015, where we are asking select donors to contribute at the $25,000-$50,000 level.
Would you be willing to support 10% of this goal, $36,600? Your tax-exempt donation would directly support the following projects:
1) A mailing to all signers promoting the move and promoting obtaining new signers (est. cost: $16,000). We are sending a test mailer invitation to Liberty Forum to 3,125 signers in the identified target areas. This test mailing will provide data to help us determine how to proceed with the larger mailing list.
2) The balance will spent on online signer acquisition through Facebook, Twitter, and online advertising networks, employing SEO metrics to keep us on target and provide reporting data.
The Free State Project has the leadership, the skills, and the commitment to make your contribution count. We stand at the cusp of a historic breakthrough. We have already seen the benefits of concentrating liberty activists in one geographic area. Help us reach the finish line!
Yours in peace and liberty,
Life in NH is never dull! Look at this turnout for the injunction hearing in the matter of NHDoE vs. Town of Croydon school board.
The state is arguing that *it* needs an injunction to immediately remove 4 kids who were placed in a Montessori school otherwise *the state* will suffer irreparable harm. Notwithstanding the fact that the children are FLOURISHING at their new school, and despite the fact that the taxpayers of Croydon are actually saving $3,000 per kid.
Said the AG’s office: “Public students with public funds need to be in public schools. Those children don’t belong there [at Montessori]!” The state lawyer asked for an injunction, saying that parents can either pay privately, out of pocket for their children to go to Montessori (double taxed jeopardy, anyone?) or the court must order the kids back to the Newport public school IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.
This, argued with a statist-straight-tist face after the DoE KNEW about the issue in JUNE DURING THE HOLIDAYS and after this is the second year in which this approach has been taken for kids who need it.
In a June letter to the DoE, the Croydon attorney wrote: “This practice [sending kids to the best school for them] will continue,” and yet, the AG and the DoE did NOTHING…
…Until the school year started to… sue and disrupt perfectly happy kids lives… I smell… let me be gracious… incompetence?
The Croydon attorney, who is a former NH Supreme Court judge, more rationally argued–after saying, “We told them in June, so BRING IT ON, BABY!” (best line of the day)–that allowing the children to go to a school better suited to their needs was better. *Doh.* He went on to say: “The bill is already paid until February 2016. The parents want their kids there. The school board wants the kids there. The kids WANT TO BE there. They are paying less money for a better education.”
BUT NOOOOOOO… the state in all its wisdom wants to kids back in their pre-approved reeducation camp. Must not allow this flight, this, shall we say, brain drain to begin, otherwise, oh, lordy mama, everyone might want to… choose what is best for them, and we can’t have that now, can we???
My money is on the DoE’s request for injunctive relief not being granted, mostly because the state dillydallied and didn’t file the motion during the vacay. If that’s the case, 1-0 for Croydon and school choice. Either way, a hearing will be set on the merits of the case, and this too should be interesting. The AGs office, IMO, overplayed its hand in trying for injunctive relief. But, then, this is the nature of statism: you belong to us. They also underestimated the courageous people who believe in what is best for the individual person.
If the court does the right thing–the order about the injunctive relief will come out in the next 48 hours–then the children can at least see out the current school year at their CHOSEN, CHEAPER school.
This case can have a monumental impact on school choice in NH, where, btw, several other schools already send their kids to non-public schools, like Pinkerton and schools in Vermont. Stay tuned for details as they unfold.
Hope to see you at Freedom Fest in July! Wanted to share a quick update about what we’re working on. We are now almost 85% towards our goal, and 1,755 signers have moved, with more arriving weekly. In the “good problem category,” it’s getting hard to keep apace with all the move-in parties!
Liberty Forum was a great success. We had a record number of attendees (530+), and for the first time, all the D.C. libertarian think tanks were represented. Relocating the conference to a larger venue in Manchester was the right decision, and gives us room to grow and to showcase all that downtown Manchester has to offer. Next year’s event is slated for February 18-21, 2016. I hope you will attend.
PorcFest is coming up in a few weeks. FSP board member, Matt Philips and his partner Kristin Wetzel are the main organizers this year. In addition to the usual suspects, we have added a few fresh names to the mix, including Lenore Skenazy, founder of the Free Range Kids movement, Philip Stinson, a professor who runs the largest known police misconduct database in the U.S., and investigative reporter and author of Family of Secrets about the Bush dynasty, Russ Baker. We are expecting another great turnout, and several media outlets, including CNN, Bloomberg, The New York Times, and Maxim will be covering the event.
We recently had a film crew out from L.A. to interview Free Staters for an upcoming documentary called “Freedom in America.” I hope this will help bring the message of Liberty in Our Lifetime to a new audience. We have also been getting a steady flow of national and international media interest in the Free State Project.
We launched a new pledge landing page, and have actively been using our Google AdWords grant. This new page, with a shortened form and condensed pitch, is seeing dramatic early results. Interestingly, the AdWords campaign that is getting the most traction is related to Liberland. I did a Google trends comparison between the FSP and Liberland, and it’s hard not to feel a little frustrated–short of declaring Roger’s Campground a sovereign nation during PorcFest–there simply is no way to replicate this sort of global media attention. But, as they say, slow and steady wins the race, and we are winning.
The most satisfying part of the Free State Project is seeing how pro-freedom successes translate into human flourishing. From the burgeoning New Hampshire nanobrew market where there are now 3 highly successful Free Stater owned breweries (Able Ebenezer, Eagle Brewing, and Area 23) to something as seemingly trivial as being invited to a panel discussion about police militarization with the Department of Homeland Security at UNH, and having students thank me afterwards for opening their eyes.
Take education. As you know, Patrick Byrne, who spoke at Liberty Forum, is a passionate advocate for school choice. He was thrilled to learn how much progress has been made on this front in New Hampshire, including a recent case from the town of Croydon where Jody Underwood (an FSP board member) is chair of the school board and has allowed students to choose private and religious schools instead of being tied to only one public choice. Of course, the NH Department of Education is pushing back, but it looks like more schools are set to follow suit.
Or take simply living a principled life in liberty. This past weekend, I attended a joint baby shower for a dozen expecting couples in Portsmouth. Amongst those present were several entrepreneurs, a past PorcFest organizer, a former FSP newsletter editor, the founder of the FreeCoast Festival (started last year with a focus on radical entrepreneurship), and the founder of the innovation hub, The Praxium, where the event was held. These folks are not the ones you typically hear about in the news, but they are the ones who are buying houses, starting families and businesses, writing LTEs, and changing their neighbors’ views by living productive lives extolling the virtues of voluntary relationships.
This liberty revival in New Hampshire is the direct result of the Free State Project. We are the chicken and the egg. All the exciting things originating from here–from Jason Soren’s Ethics and Economics Education of New England project, to Bitcoin businesses, to civil disobedience aimed at blocking the police state–are because we are actively bringing dedicated, passionate pro-freedom people to the “Live Free or Die” state.
With the first-in-the-nation presidential primary coming up next year, there is an opportunity to aggressively market and inspire more movers before next year’s Liberty Forum.
To increase our outreach, we now have a $25,000 challenge grant–every dollar up to $25,000 donated will be matched 1:1 through the rest of 2015 by one of our board members, Séamas Ó Scalaidhe, who recently bought a home in Wolfeboro and now spends 50% of his time here. I’m also excited to let you know Howard Kaloogian, a fundraiser at Hillsdale College, recently moved with his wife to Weare, and he will be working with me on some upcoming fundraising projects.
In the meanwhile, there are a few projects for which I am seeking immediate funding:
- I negotiated a discounted Gold Sponsorship for Freedom Fest, which includes 8 tickets. In additional to several board members who will be attending this year, I would like to bring out a team of our best recruiters and ambassadors. We need to cover their airfare, accommodation, and meals, in additional to the sponsorship fee. ($12,000)
- Radio ad buys on the Howie Carr Show, a daily 4-hour peak time syndicated talk radio show. The show airs across New England, and is our perfect target market. ($150 per 60 seconds, blocks of 20, test of 40 blocks = $6,000)
- Keynote speaker for Liberty Forum 2016. Based on more than 150 responses to our Liberty Forum 2015 survey, attendees are interested in interactive workshops and learning more about NH-based freedom projects. For next year, I would like to contract with one nationally recognized speaker to help drive ticket sales, and then focus volunteer efforts on creating a program showcasing New Hampshire and the exciting projects Free Staters are working on. (Up to $20,000)
- Trigger the Move marketing and merchandise. Design and distribute a new tri-fold and follow up marketing focussed on encouraging signers to move asap. This will be sent in stages: new landing page signers, past 5,000 signers for which we have good data (when I came on board), and then the cleaned data from the legacy signers. ($20,000 for first stages)
“Many Paths to Liberty” was in action in New Hampshire yesterday. I’m pleased to let you know that 52 free- and pre-staters won their primary races: 5 for NH senate; and in the house: 5 democrats; 42 republicans. Other pro-liberty locals ran and won too.
Whenever it is election season, we, as a big tent community, invariably have the debate about what the best way is to achieve more liberty. Is voting immoral? Will we become them? Fortunately, most free staters now see the value of trying it all–whether running for office, or creating new ventures, or starting private charities. The beauty of this approach is every individual free stater can follow his or her own passions, and exert their fullest practical efforts as they see fit.
Where else do you see self-declared anarchists running for office? Free Talk Live’s Ian Freeman, who ran against Hassan on the D-side, got 4% of the vote. He says: “My goal for the campaign was not to get votes. My goal was to reach people with the ideas of freedom. Mission accomplished, for a measly $102.50. That money bought a decent amount of media coverage. Votes are not an indicator of people you have reached. They could be protest votes against the other candidate.”
The political porcupines did an amazing job. Merav Yaakov (see a profile about her in the enclosed Free Stater) and others affiliated with the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance proactively recruited pro-liberty candidates in districts where they stood the best chance of getting elected. They have be holding planning and training meetings for more than a year. They devised a “Liberty Ballot,” an easy to use cheat-sheet to print and take to the ballot box. Because so many volunteers from 2012 are themselves running this time, our biggest challenge for the primary was finding enough people to support them. I confess, I am sunburnt after spending a long day in the sun holding signs for my friends at polls in several different towns.
We need to Trigger the Move! Getting more movers in-state is crucial–especially as we look to 2016, and beyond. With the two year residency requirement here in order to run as a representative, most new movers won’t be eligible to run until 2018, but they will be able to support those who have been elected and those who will run in 2016, learning the ropes of a successful campaign firsthand.
After another record-breaking PorcFest, the board held a summit in early August. In addition to working on an updated strategic plan, we made Aaron Day–whom you know from The Atlas Society–chairman of the board, and appointed two new board members: serial entrepreneur Matt Philips (he started and sold Right Media to Yahoo), and FSP founder, Jason Sorens. They will be spearheading the FSP Ambassador Program, focussing on two things: 1. training more out-of-state volunteers to attend more outreach events and conferences to promote the FSP; and, 2. finding more in-state “Friends of the FSP.”
We launched our first issue-specific landing page last week, starting with Bitcoin. Thanks to a generous anonymous BTC donation, Blockchain is running a tongue-in-cheek, cowboy-themed “Get Out of Doge” banner ad that redirects to the FSP/BTC landing page which extols the rich connections between free staters and the alt-currency community. In the first week, we received 268 click-throughs, and the sign-up rate accelerated. Next, we will be doing a gun rights page, followed by marijuana legalization.
Based on an analysis of where signers are coming from, I have identified the surrounding New England states as the best bang-for-the-recruiting-buck. Focusing within this region also avoids having to convince the “but it’s too cold” naysayers. We are starting to buy libertarian lists from these states, and would like to start advertising on local conservative radio stations, or perhaps even local NPR stations (e.g. “Marketplace, brought to you by the Free State Project, occupying New Hampshire for more freedom since 2003”).
I am currently in talks with Morgan Spurlock’s Warrior Poets production company. They are working on a documentary about the loss of freedom in America. I keep trying to convince them to do a feature length movie solely about the FSP. This is something that eventually will need to be made, especially as Libertopia is now a few years old. I’m also working with a new mover filmmaker to shoot mini-documentaries featuring porcupines in their natural habitat, a “Day in the Life” of FSP movers. Upcoming after the November election is the independently made feature-length film “101 Reasons,” aimed at attracting disillusioned voters from across the country.
One project I am particularly excited about is reaching out to all our past signers. It’s been too long! The goal is threefold: 1. Reconnect and reinvigorate past signers to encourage them to start planning their moves; 2. Encourage them to seek out more signers; and, 3. At a later date, to fundraise. In order to do this, we have to clean our data, prepare an email campaign and a physical mailer, follow up with phone calls, and follow up with a second mailer. We are budgeting $25,000, excluding my salary. I spoke to Michael about this in Vegas, and he mentioned this may be something you might be interested in underwriting.
Notable recent FSP signers include Bruce Fenton, founder of the Bitcoin Association, who said: “I signed up with the Free State Project because I want to be the change I want to see in the world.” Lyn Ulbricht, mother of the alleged founder of Silk Road, spoke at PorcFest and signed there. She has become a feisty freedom fighter for her freemarketeer son’s rights. She and I are both hopeful that Ross will be out of jail in time to attend next year’s Liberty Forum.
Liberty Forum is slated for March 5-8, 2015 in downtown Manchester. I would like to invite you to attend. If you are interested, it would be wonderful if you did a talk on self-management. As we attract more movers, many are post-college students eager to start their own businesses. Sharing your knowledge and experience would be invaluable.
We have surpassed 16,000 signers. We’re more than 80% of the way to 20,000, and more than 10% of signers have moved. Now that we have 501c3 status, a two-and-a-half year uphill battle we finally won, we are stepping up our fundraising efforts in order to increase our marketing efforts. We know the FSP is a winning, proven strategy. What we need now is to get the word out to every libertarian in the North-East.
Last night, at the post-primary party at the Manchester activist center, I was exhilarated by the conversations I overheard. “What I love most about moving to New Hampshire is there’s real hope here!” “Getting 50+ pro-liberty candidates through the primary would be unheard of anywhere else.” “I can’t believe I won! Makes all of those days knocking on doors feel worthwhile.” “I love this community! Instead of sitting around whining, people here DO things.” “First, New Hampshire, then the world!”
Running for office is one strategy in the arsenal of achieving Liberty in Our Lifetime. Your past donations have enabled me to throw myself headlong into this grand adventure. I am eternally grateful for your support. I will be sending out a comprehensive 2015-2016 strategic plan and budget to our financial supporters soon. In the meanwhile, I hope you will consider continuing to support me now as I attack the next round of projects to Trigger the Move.
Yours in peace and liberty,
President, Free State Project
The mission? Protect the peaceful people of New Hampshire from the Thin Blue Revenue Seeking Line. How? More than 30 liberty loving locals, Free Staters and others alike, spent Friday night, July 25, 2014, warning motorists in Manchester of a suspicionless “sobriety” checkpoint. New Hampshire boasts many quaint laws, including one that requires police departments to announce the date, time and place of DUI checkpoints.
Around 10 p.m. on this balmy summer evening, activists started lining up along Elm Street, the main thoroughfare from downtown. From our vantage point, the single-direction suspicionless checkpoint was tucked behind an incline, hidden from view to approaching motorists. A coincidence? As someone who has only been fined for speeding on a downhill, I think not.
Men, women, young, old, newbies, seasoned activists, some from Keene dressed in reflective gear and sporting radios, held signs to warn drivers: “Official Extortion Station Ahead,” “4th Amendment Dead Ahead,” “Remain Silent,” “Who Needs Probable Cause?” and “Swine Crossing, Turn Now.” As cars passed, drivers honked, passengers waved, people threw one handed peace signs from windows. Many cars turned to avoid the upcoming collection plate.
The previous weekend, in Seabrook, a suspicionless checkpoint yielded the following results: Out of 556 vehicles illegally searched, 9 driving-while-intoxicated arrests were made. As this Seacoastonline.com Letter to the Editor states: “While it sounds good that nine persons with a blood-alcohol concentration over 0.08 percent were off the streets, that means 547 innocent people were accosted and detained without probable cause and made to ‘show their papers’ in order to travel from one place to another.” On Friday night in Portsmouth, one man was arrested for DUI, one was cited for an open container, and two drug arrests were made.
And that’s the rub. These unconstitutional “sobriety” checkpoints cast their nets wider than their stated goal. Whether arresting drivers for blood alcohol levels above 0.08 percent really keeps others “safe” is up for debate, but arresting people for other offenses is de facto illegal. Another troubling aspect is these checkpoints are being funded by the federales. This past weekend’s Portsmouth checkpoint was funded with a $6,864 grant. The police department also received a second $6,864 grant approved for “DWI/DUI patrols,” which involve officers in cruisers looking for drivers who may be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Not to state the obvious, but isn’t that what they are supposed to be doing already?
In Manchester, only one officer engaged us, leaning out of his cruiser’s window to inform us not to stand in the road (we were in a marked parking bay). As things started to wind down, a driver made the fatal mistake of honking in support of our activism while changing lanes, doing so right in front of a squad car. Next thing: Blinding blues and reds. The motorist pulled over. A second squad car appeared, stopping in the right hand lane, blocking one lane of traffic heading towards the checkpoint. 15-20 activists came forward to observe the stop, many of us whipping out cell phones and video recorders, ready to catch the action on camera. We know the drill. The police know the drill. After all, I fought for that right all the way to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, and won. Instead of threatening to steal our cameras, or indeed, confiscating them as they have done in the past, the backup rookie simply said: Please don’t interfere while recording.
Sadly, the driver ended up being arrested. During the exchange with the arresting officer, he answered questions he should not have. An activists handed him a “Know Your Rights” flyer through the open passenger window, but it was too late. A Cop Block activist from Keene escalated the situation, demanding that a supervisor be called and engaging the police in a headstrong way. This, in my opinion, was a mistake. When doing street activism, especially when another person–not an activist–is involved, it behooves you to de-escalate, to figure out a way for the police to save face in order to inflict the minimum amount of harm to all concerned. As the handcuffed driver was being escorted to a cruiser, he consented verbally, on camera, to having one of us drive his car to his home, which was literally around the corner. The police refused to give us his car keys, so at least one tow truck operator got his piece of the pie that night.
Some activists went to the police station to try to bail out the man who was arrested, and almost got arrested themselves. Others resumed waving signs. On the plus side, during the traffic stop, the cruisers’ flashing lights deterred far more motorists than our sign waving had done. Nary a car passed, most turning as soon as they spotted the blue and red lights up ahead. Why? Because peaceful people don’t want to be hassled when going about their lives. Peaceful people don’t want to interact with the police. Peaceful people know a midnight encounter with the Thin Blue Line is probably not going to end well for them, or their wallets.
The Free State Project is attracting thousands of liberty activists to New Hampshire. Friday night’s activities is only one example of the many ways Free Staters are exerting their fullest practical effort to reducing the size and scope of government in New Hampshire. Find out more here in the coming months, and subscribe to the FSP newsletter.
Carla Gericke is president of the Free State Project, a 501(c)(3) organization. Carla is a recovering Silicon Valley lawyer, and holds an MFA in creative writing. She speaks and writes on a variety of liberty topics. The views expressed herein are her own as an activist, and do not necessarily reflect those of, nor are they endorsed by, the Free State Project.
[MY NOTE: This article originally appeared on Shire Liberty News in 2014. Photo from a different protest, “1984 is Not an Instruction Manual” held in 2019 to protest the UnConstitutional police surveillance cameras being installed in downtown Manchester.]