{After moving to Dover NH in Nov 2018, I was lucky enough to work under Jessica Paxton as the "Coordinator of the Creating Communities Tent", joining a large team of coordinators who make the FSP flagship Porcupine Freedom Festival (PorcFest) possible.  I wrote a few blog entries about my experiences while at PorcFest XVI.}

June 23 2019: Monday Morning after PorcFest

My muscles ache!

Sunday I worked from 7A to 4P cleaning up Roger's Campground, and packing up our PorcFest truck. My major contribution was combing the field: starting with the biggest items (chairs, lost and found, and various containers of liquid which inevitably sloshed onto me), and ending with tent zip ties and attendees cigarette butts in the grass.

But that field was shiny by the time we left! 🙂

Fortunately, I'm smart enough to have stopped at a rest stop about a half hour south of the turn off for Waterville Valley. My convertible top was down and I parked my Jeep under a particularly energetically clacking aspen for a good two hour nap, so I made it home by 9P without any side trips into ditches.

My daughter sadly missed her third PorcFest so I put together my highlights of my most unusual PorcFest ever...

No photo description available.

8) We focused our Creating Communities (CC) tent on how you guys are building a liberty community here in New Hampshire, and it was so inspiring to see the same newbie faces return session after session to try to figure out how they too might fit into and to build a life of liberty here in the Free State. They, like I, were tired of living largely alone in authoritarian states, scorned and mocked for the heresy of believing that people should treat one another consensually and voluntarily. And they were eager to learn what communities you guys are building up here, and how they might fit in.

7) Our local celebrities were generous with their time, interacting personally with our CC tent participants. I couldn't believe my eyes when, time after time, we'd be holding a small circle discussion about, say, "What liberty meant to you?", or "What do you want to build?", and there would be Jason Sorens quietly sitting in our circle, sharing his own personal hopes and dreams for himself and his family.

And he wasn't the only one. Mary Sorens brought some of the group to tears with her heartfelt share, and other long-time leaders -- Michelle Levell, Carla Gericke, Kathleen Wikstrom, Jody Underwood, Chris Lopez, Mark Warden amongst others -- were right in there rubbing shoulders with OGs and newbies alike, and sharing their own hopes and their travails, making it okay for everyone else to open up too.

6) What about the folks who actually got up on stage (or fearlessly simply led participants in a circle) to plan and lead a session or to participate on a panel. Our tent didn't have so much "talk to"s, but "talk with"s -- engaging, querying, listening, envisioning, and inspiring.

5) Oh, and have I mentioned yet the great volunteers I was fortunate to work with?

Well, first there were the ones who helped me directly in the tent all week: Elisa Change and Jacqueline Farquharson -- one a brand new mover, and the other a potential mover. They reflected the inviting and caring nature of our FSP communities to CC tent participants -- welcoming, seating, explaining, introducing, and speaking.

And Hans Pasio jumped in on day two when my third volunteer decided that it would be far too much trouble to tell us that he had decided -- at the last minute -- to skip PorcFest this year and instead of calling us, forwarded his phone call to voice mail. It only took two days of calling for me to figure out he wasn't ever going to show up, but then we were lucky enough to get Hans!

And because we were building community, we made sure that all our participants volunteered as well. Everyone who came to our tent helped setting up and putting away chairs. (I mean, if they're really considering joining the Free State Project, they may as well get used to rolling up their sleeves to help create our communities. )

But PorcFest for me had been a four month journey that I took with all the coordinators (and the two Producers and the Producers emeriti) who made PorcFest possible, and all the volunteers who helped them implement all their plans! I may not have gotten back into the campgrounds or the tent areas to meet and chitchat, but I, even as a newbie, got to work alongside some of the real movers and shakers whose dedication, love, and service help form the real backbone of the Free State Project.

4) Alright, I'll admit it: I got a real kick leading some sessions and participating on a couple of panels. For the last two years, I've worked hard learning how to share our passion for freedom with newbies. (Another fan had translated one of my essays into a different language while I was at PorcFest -- this time into French!)

But I don't feel that I can talk extemporaneously -- like our many podcaster-leaders -- about these views I hold so deeply. Well, running the small tent at PorcFest gave me a chance to try to orally describe the deep appreciation I have for anyone who has so much respect for her fellow humans that she is willing to forswear threatening them with violence simply for the "crime" of choosing a different path than her.

And I noticed that my volunteers similarly took courage to stand up to share their desire for and vision of at least one small community centered of love, peace, voluntaryism, and win-win interactions.

3) My main goal in accepting Jessica's offer to coordinate was to meet the people who are currently most active in the Free State freedom movement. And boy, did I get my wish!

Now, I know that there are many many porcupines whom I have yet to meet who are leading great efforts or doing yeoman lifting. And I can't wait to meet you guys and admire all that you are doing to break the chains that have held back the human race for millennia.

But I can't imagine a better opportunity to help me meet so many of you so quickly and really get to know who you really are when the deadline's approaching and the work is piling up and real sh*t has to be done to accomplish something magnificent!

I'm not here yet a year in the Free State, and already I feel part of a loving and powerful family.

2) And then there is the feeling of being in a large community, surrounded by largely strangers, many of whom are armed, and knowing that I am safe, because the one thing that brings us all together is a strong, core, ethical belief that we will not violate one another.

I know we like to focus on all the little dramas that can separate us -- "How can you listen to Bill Weld?" or "How can you still like Stefan Molyneux?". And like any community, there is bickering that this should be done this way instead of that being done that way. And what not.

But standing around the Burning Porcupine fire and realizing in my gut that none of the hundreds of folks here was willing to initiate violence against me -- neither they themselves, nor they using a politician as their double-super-secret violent proxy -- reminded me of why I've so badly wanted to be here. I had been surrounded by authoritarians my entire life; here, I had never felt such ease and safety as when I am in your midst.

Image may contain: night and fire

1) But these were the highlights that I had anticipated when I had accepted Jessica's offer of the lowest paying, highest action job.

My biggest highlight was when my wife, with her puppy, showed up on Friday evening as I was finishing our preparation for Soap Box Idol.

You see, she had been two states away running a Board Meeting for her company, and we had agreed that I would be too busy volunteering, and she would be too far away, and PorcFest would be too close to completion, for it to have made any sense for her to come up.

But she came up anyway -- to surprise me for my birthday.

And it was her first PorcFest. Five times I had been there without her, but now my wife was here with me.

And I even cajoled her up onto Carla's soap box, up on my stage, to tell all the porcupines there what a mean old ogre of a husband I was to drag her so far north -- to a free state where we could retire in freedom to create a legacy of freedom for our daughter.

And it may have been my best birthday present ever! 🙂

To read the other entries from PorcFest, as well as see some pictures: PorcFest blog