I just finished a two-day whirlwind tour of Manchester, Concord (briefly), Dover, Seabrook, and Keene. I set out on this trip with the intention of checking out the FSP as a destination to escape the People's Republic of Kalifornia. It was such an amazing experience... I met so many cool people (more like-minded people in 24 hours than I had in 9 months on CA) and got a nice overview of the FSP. Because of this I had some reflections on the whole recruiting process. Let me preface my comments by saying that I have not yet committed to moving, but my wife and I will definitely be coming to PorcFest so that we can make our decision. Also, take this with a grain of salt as I'm sure my planning was hampered by visiting in the middle of the week for just 2 days rather than the weekend (though this did give me a glimpse of what day-to-day life is like).
I know its long but hang in there!
Definitely some high and low points here... I decided to make my NH trip as I already had a business trip to Boston planned, so I just tacked on a few days to the beginning of the trip. I started planning in Mid November. I submitted the FSP "visiting NH" form, I posted on the welcome wagon forum, and later made my way over to FreeKeene.com. It was a little difficult to plan as I didn't know what was worth visiting, who was available, what events were planned etc. It was a very serial, iterative process with a lot of calls and emails up until the minute I got on my plane. That part was definitely frustrating and had I not been able to spend nearly 8 hours planning, I'm pretty sure my trip would have suffered.
Mark W. definitely stepped up to bat and was an excellent host for the Manch/Dover part of my trip. He went above and beyond in making me feel welcome and helping me to hammer out the kinks in my planning. Likewise for Richard O. in Keene. Thankfully, since I had done so much planning, my trip did run fairly smoothly though I did rely quite heavily on the locals to get people together and set up events.
The community is awesome. Having so many like-minded people that share such a deep philosophical basis so greatly overshadows the minutiae of differences among freestaters. Connecting on a deep level like that meant that I instantly had hundreds of complete strangers that I could mesh with and trust far more than the acquaintances of 'normal' life. Being able to be myself without being judged for being a a crazy libertarian was great. I think this is such a high point that it bears emphasis. Even if nothing else in NH appeals to a potential FSPer, this could be enough to get people to move. Everyone I met kept telling me how awesome this support network was and how NH changed so many people... after my visit, I really can see why. Most libertarians are stuck living their lives surrounded by hostility (albeit often subconscious) and apathy, that it is nearly a spiritual experience recognizing and interacting with so many like-minded people.
In terms of recommendations for recruitment, I think facilitating visits of prospective movers to NH is extremely important. Forums and videos just don't showcase the quality of people and I think that is THE selling point. It's VERY easy to spend a ton of time learning about the FSP, but except for the most motivated, I don't think that will convince people to move. Greater trip planning assistance is key: maps, highlights of the different areas/towns, recurring attractions and meetups lists, and contacts in each area. This could also benefit from having some "what to expect" testimonials. This would take some dedicated volunteers, but having that information aggregated would definitely facilitate planning and get people on the fence about visiting more likely to come. I had to be extremely motivated to find out what I did, so this could help to get those less motivated than I to get over that initial hump.
Of course, I'm neglecting the initial aspect of the whole process... to even consider a visit you have to know what the FSP is and that has to convince you. It looks like the other threads cover this adequately, so I'll just mention my personal experience. FSP could definitely benefit from greater penetration of more mainstream liberty-esque groups (Campaign for liberty certainly, we are change, 9-12,etc.) Even if there isn't 100% agreement, we need to unify for liberty and leave the debating for later, so even if a particular group doesn't mesh all the way with the voluntaryist views or is too minarchist, too mainstream, too name-your-pet-detractor, as long as the members could identify with the FSP statement of intent, they should be aggressively recruited. the philosophical differences can and will be hammered out later, and better so in person with a beer in hand. I mention all this because I heard nothing about the FSP from the various groups I've been involved with and I think it's a shame. The main thing that convinced me to make the trip (other than the proximity of my business trip) was word of mouth and having several friends planning to move (liberty caravan this coming March). Word of mouth definitely requires the same penetration of the above groups, but also the success of things like Liberty on the Rocks are a great forum for starting that discussion. Having some friends move showed us real evidence of their commitment to the cause and spiked our curiosity. I think being too isolated and relying overly on an electronic presence can greatly damage recruiting potential. I don't want slogans or internet banter, I want good people, and to that end physical presence is key (especially for liberty-minded friends and families of movers that are FSP friendly who could spread the word in their town in the groups they're already in).
Anyway, I hope I didn't bore you with my novel. Overall I had a wonderful experience and am very excited to make the porc-fest trip. We will be bringing several family members along!
Some thanks for those who helped me out with rides, crash pads, and hanging out: Keith C., JJ, Max and all the other wonderful porcs I met!