Fellow Free State Project Participants, Friends, and lovers of Liberty,
Allow me to briefly introduce myself. My name is Irena Goddard. I was born in Communist Czechoslovakia. My mother and I fled to upstate New York when I was in grade school. I graduated from Binghamton University and worked as a software consultant for several years. In 2004, my husband, myself, and our young son fled from California to New Hampshire, as pioneer members of the Free State Project (FSP). Some of you know me the as organizer of the 2007 NH Liberty Forum.
A few weeks ago, Varrin Swearingen stepped down after several years of service as President of the Free State Project. Varrin will remain on the FSP Board of Directors, and will act as FSP spokesperson going forward. Thank you, Varrin, for your years of service as FSP President. I am grateful to have your continued active participation and support.
The Board of Directors held a vote, and elected me to serve as the new FSP President. I have spent much time considering the FSP's past and current direction. Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to many FSP participants. I would like to share with you my vision of what the Free State Project should be, and how we can most effectively attain our shared goal of Liberty in our Lifetime.
As I see it, there are four interrelated components to our success. They are: Decentralization
, the Internet
, a focus on New Hampshire
, and Participant-driven
activity. Below, I will briefly describe each of these points in a general sense. More specific details will be communicated in the coming weeks, as I get a chance to discuss these ideas with more of you. Lastly, I will ask open-ended questions. Hopefully these will give you food for thought, and will spur community discussion.
As students of Liberty, we all understand that central planning simply Does Not Work. I certainly learned this lesson from the fall of Communism in the country of my birth: no individual, or group of individuals, can properly plan the actions of a diverse community. As such, the FSP has not micro-managed the actions of its members. I embrace this basic philosophy and seek to extend it: just how much can we decentralize? To what degree can the FSP push decision-making and real activism down to its diverse participants? The FSP should help its members to become ever more effective and autonomous activists.
2. The Internet
It has been said that the FSP will succeed where similar movements in the past have failed, because of the ubiquity of the Internet. I wholeheartedly agree. FSP participants have proven to be extraordinarily internet-savvy: we have among us many active bloggers, podcasters, webmasters, and more. We have leveraged internet trends as quickly as they have arisen: our members have top-rated podcasts, forums, blogs, YouTube channels... we've made the front page of Digg and been featured on Slashdot. We're at the top of a wide range of Google rankings.
Most of this success happened by the efforts of small numbers of creative self-starters and via spontaneous self-organization. How can the FSP help to amplify these efforts? How can we take a few minutes of volunteer time from a large number of people, and turn it into a massively visible campaign? The FSP should make it easy for participants to contribute as much or as little as they wish to our strong Internet presence.
3. Focus on New Hampshire
The time to discuss what could happen if liberty activists converged on a single state is long past: the hundreds of activists in New Hampshire are making real, tangible differences in our adopted home state, and it's happening now. These encouraging newsworthy results need to communicated. The two FSP-sponsored annual events, Liberty Forum and PorcFest, are growing in attendance and importance. What other information about New Hampshire is critical for potential FSP participants? How can this information be "broadcast" so that it results in people making the decision to move?
4. Participant-driven activity
This organization, to be successful in our mission, needs to be a pull content vs. push content oriented. So, for example, rather than us centrally listing events or centrally deciding news or blogs, people can submit information, and unless it is off-topic or inappropriate, the FSP website would broadcast it. If it is truly key information, the FSP might issue a press release, or kick-off a Google campaign. In another words, the FSP's website infrastructure would help YOU promote what YOU and YOUR content. To what level, can we have a website so that it has fresh, dynamic information that generates high traffic? How do we determine which well-known or interesting bloggers, or other Liberty-friendly organization, should post onto FSP website?
I am making a commitment that my communication to you will be brief and action-oriented. In turn, I would ask you to take a moment and think about what skills/resources do you have that you can offer to FSP. All of us, need to work together if we are to achieve Liberty in our Lifetime.
I hope the above has got the wheels turning in your head. Please do not hesitate to contact me.
Going forward, monthly communications (sometimes more frequent) will be available in the President's corner: http://www.freestateproject.org/org/presidentscorner