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)