After my previous year helping organize PorcFest 2019, I had ideas about “re[love]utionizing” PorcFest for 2020: we would put our emphasis on our growing liberty community rather than relying primarily on our out-of-state Big Speakers. Of course, we love these big speakers, and we would still invite them to listen gratefully to their wise guidance. But our porcupine community is so rich and so active! Shouldn’t our Porcupine Freedom Festival celebrate our porcupines?
In addition, a festival is often centrally planned, but a liberty community is naturally bottom-up, spontaneously-organized, decentralized, and entrepreneurial. So we, the largest libertarian outdoor festival, would perversely tilt towards centralization and authority unless we figured out how to distribute control of the festival to our liberty community. I, along with several others, brainstormed how our festival could reflect the fundamental spontaneous order that distinguishes libertarian from authoritarian communities.
So, I collected ideas and formulated my plan for PorcFest 2020…
But … then … life happened.
Punch One: “It’s Ba-ack”
The first punch was my cancer returning. (Motto: “Ignoring property rights since 2017”.) This damned invader turns out to be as difficult to remove as US “peacekeeping” forces from a middle-eastern country. And so, I declined the massive job to organize PorcFest.
The folks who did volunteer to lead PorcFest 2020 still tried to recruit me to at least help them out, but I knew I would be too busy and too exhausted from my “treatments”, so, I refused that as well — at least, I tried to refuse — for a day. You see, I had been envisioning for almost a year what a PorcFest 2020 could look like, and who knew how much time there would be left to try things out? So, after a sleepless night, I returned to beg the head organizers:
- To be excused from the physical labor.
- To be given lee-way to implement our vision of “Community Building Community”.
The organizers were very happy to be on board with the vision. (As for excusing me from the physical stuff, they happily acceded to that as well; after all, who needs cancer boy passing out, spoiling all the fun of moving tons of festival equipment?)
So, even while I prepared to start months of treatment, I rolled up my sleeves and contacted 100+ of our community leaders — both inside and outside the Free State — and offered to help them brainstorm how they could share their work and vision with attendees at our PorcFest. We re-imagined our tenting system to support a small-is-beautiful, distributed PorcFest: we would have lots of little tents strewn about, supporting smaller, intimate,hands-on gatherings of interest-groups. And of course we would have our one pavilion large enough for our fewer (but certainly beloved!) Big Speakers.
Punch Two: CoronaVirus
But in the “two” part of the one-two punch that life was delivering to my vision of PorcFest, coronavirus hit! And even the very idea of a 2020 PorcFest was threatened. Sure, there were many here who instantaneously suspected ruler incompetence (if not, outright ruler power grabs). But the fear and uncertainty was such that we quietly paused all planning to see if we could figure out: How bad?
By mid-May, our fearless leader Carla Gericke finally couldn’t take it any longer. She announced that we would not be canceling PorcFest, even if only a few stalwarts were to weave their way through the gauntlet of police checkpoints to make it to Lancaster. Our message to attendees would be: “Take care of yourself; Take the precautions that you believe are necessary for you; Respect one another’s preferences.” But we were going to put on a Come-At-Your-Own-Risk, throwback PorcFest.
The stake in the sand was driven.
As for me, I had been under severe lockdown during my treatments — seeing no one for three months except hospital staff. But by the end of May I couldn’t hold back at least helping out with the scheduling.
Given the government-imposed house imprisonment on large swaths of the population, and given folks’ continuing concerns about “How bad?”, we scheduled only one track — the Big Speakers on the Big Stage. We found liberty luminaries like Tom Woods, Jeffrey Tucker, Tone Vays, Liberty Belle, etc. who were willing to buck their masters’ “Executive Orders” to come up to the woods in the mountains to talk about our shared dream of human freedom.
But by the end of May, our normally chock-full schedule was still looking mighty thin…
That’s when, well, community happened!
PorcFest for Porcupines by Porcupines
First, porcupines started offering up their campsites so that other porcupines could hold talks and play games. Other porcupines then promised their pop-up 10X10s and 20X15s tents to set up in those campsites. And soon, porcupines of all types, ages, and genders were scheduling various activities and presentations and exercises and discussions and games and sing-alongs and dance lessons throughout the campground.
Our resilient porcupine community was spontaneously organizing PorcFest for themselves.
To Go or Not to Go? PorcFest FOMO
Now, I personally still wasn’t planning on going. I’m in that rare group of aged, infirmed, with co-morbidity (not to mention, just plain ugly!) such that anti-libertarians only need say “Coronavirus” three times and I kick the bucket. (Don’t try it, smarty pants!)
But as we scrambled to put together this unique, last-minute festival, I started feeling a feeling that I just couldn’t deny: a desire for freedom, to escape my three month imprisonment, and to commune with those who would dare live free. I tried to imagine staying in my home while courageous porcupines from all over the world assembled in the northern mountains of the Free State of New Hampshire. They would be there — meeting, engaging, planning, thinking, talking, playing … advancing our dream of freedom. And I would just have to resign myself that I could not be with them!
Everyone knows that! No one would blame me if I didn’t go.
But deep down, I wasn’t fooling myself how disappointed I would be. And as the realization slowly seeped into my thick head, I had to sit for days with the knowledge that I just would have to go, I hesitated because, boy, I would have a lot of explaining to do…
I would have to explain to my goodwife — who had been so dutiful, protecting me for months from a possible virus that would certainly have derailed my cancer treatment, if it hadn’t kill me outright — that I was not going to stay home. So, I broke it to her gently, in my most tactful way: “Honey! I’m going to PorcFest!.”
I think she’s forgiven me by now. You don’t stay married to someone like me for almost 40 years without being able to let go of your ideas about how your spouse ought to act.
So, we purchased plenty of hand sanitizer and soap and water, and even a mask or two. We loaded the car, packed the pup, and drove up to PorcFest together. We bunkered down in a nearby motel that could act as a refuge from the crowd, where I could nap from exhaustion, yet still mosey on over to participate just a bit in the festival.
Which festival? Oh, you know the one. The one that is thrown each year — come executive order or viruses — in the beautiful mountain woods of upper-state New Hampshire. The one known by freedom lovers all over the world as The Porcupine Freedom Festival — “PorcFest”. And that PorcFest? PorcFest 2020? Was just about the best PorcFest ever!
That is until PorcFest 2021! Because we’re taking what we learned and what we envisioned and we’re putting it all together for you this year. And we have enough time to really energize our community. And so, if you were fortunate enough to go to PorcFest 2020, and you thought that PorcFest 2020 was an incredible win for liberty (when liberty was losing everywhere else), why, just you wait ’till you see what we porcupines are cooking up for you this year!!!
(Visit the Official Porcupine Freedom Festival website for tickets and updates.)
For four years, Dennis was often ranked the #1 author of libertarian answers on Quora.Com based on views and up-votes. Writing primarily about ethics, he was deplatformed in Jan 2021, when – contradicting their own ranking algorithms — Quora judged his libertarian answers as “not helpful”. Dennis can now be found stumbling about the Free State — sad and directionless — carrying a lantern searching for an honest man. For a limited time, you can still find some of his 1800 unhelpful explanations of libertarian ethics on Quora.