Looks like they won't archive it, at least not at the URL Patty was so kind as to find....
Free State 'Porcupines' fight prickly reception
By Dan Tuohy
LANCASTER -- Free State Project organizer Tim Condon huddled around a campfire pit and doled out advice to fellow Libertarians on how to interact with New Hampshire natives.
He said he saw for himself how ornery or stubborn Granite Staters can be last week when residents in Grafton objected to project members relocating to their town of about 1,200 people with the idea of "taking over."
It was just "a vicious crowd of xenophobes and rednecks," Condon, an attorney from Tampa, said Thursday
Seeing a reporter among his political pioneers -- who want 20,000 people to relocate to New Hampshire to promote limited government -- he quickly added, "That was a joke."
But the townspeople are not laughing. As the Porcupines, as they call themselves, try to establish their experiment in democracy, they have a bit of a public relations problem.
Condon and others who are part of a newly minted speakers bureau are at the group's "Porcupine Freedom Festival" in Lancaster this weekend trying to counteract the image that the Free State Project is a radical, anti-government group.
The group is against the heavy hand of government in policing so-called victimless crimes, like prostitution and illegal drug use.
But while these Libertarians are quick to punch the alarm about what they fear is creeping socialism, Free State Project President Amanda Phillips said they espouse limited government, not no government.
Jason Sorens, a Yale political scientist, founded the Free State Project based on an essay he wrote in 2001. He advocated for like-minded Libertarians to move to one state in order to take over state and local governments and slash their budgets.
Condon did not expect such a sour welcome in Grafton, which is home to Libertarian Party executive John Babiarz -- and because Gov. Craig Benson, a Republican, heartily endorsed the group.
Benson even helped the group's lobbying arm raise funds Friday in Plymouth. The event sparked protest by Democrats and residents who don't take kindly to anyone, or any group, that rolls into town one day and announces they will remake or fix how town and state government is run.
Kathy Sullivan, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, called the Free State Project an extremist group that wants to cut health and social services for the sick and needy and eliminate local planning, zoning, and environmental regulations. She questioned why anyone would welcome the group, as Benson did.
"It's pretty obvious that Craig Benson is not putting the concerns of the people of New Hampshire first," Sullivan said.
By now, of course, the Free State members have heard the criticism, some firsthand. Most see it as part of the debate, a natural evolution of politics.
More than 250 members of the Free State Project are at Roger's Campground in Lancaster for the four-day festival, which ends today. The festival started out as a social engagement. People who have relocated to New Hampshire from as far west as Washington State and Arizona finally could put a face to the e-mail address they've had bookmarked since the project decided last year New Hampshire was the chosen state.
Already nearly 6,000 people of the 20,000 envisioned in the group's goal have pledged to move to New Hampshire. They are not relocating to any one area.
Libertarians began arriving at the campground Thursday after driving hundreds, or even thousands of miles. License plates showed Texas, Michigan, Maryland and Massachusetts, among others.
Libertarian philosophy videotapes were for sale beneath a "live what you believe" banner.
Free Staters hit the pool, lounged in beach chairs, and shared lively political debate with a sense of fellowship not often seen at any Statehouse or Town Hall.
The common greeting: "Have you moved up yet?"
Dave Mincin, who moved to Dover from Pittsburgh, Pa., said it was nice to meet people directly, to see the project was real, and that "it wasn't a chat room."
Mincin, who is looking for work in sales, said the biggest challenge for the Libertarians is finding a job and affordable housing. He said failure was not an option.
"Free State Project is the bus that gets the people here," Mincin said. "We're not invaders."
Steve Nekolek, 43, moved with his wife and two children from Arizona to Littleton. He said the festival was a way to show New Hampshire that Free State members are regular Americans, though sometimes with different political views.
He said acceptance would come, "when they see we don't have horns."
Nekolek, a schoolteacher, is still looking for work. He said members can disagree on each issue, and often do. He wants government to operate within its constitutional mandate, protecting those precious inalienable rights.
Nekolek said 20,000 people may not change a thing, but 20,000 activists could. He believes Free Staters can make a difference even if they do not win elective office by participating in public meetings. But he reasoned it could take several generations to make large-scale change in the way Americans view government.
Brian Sullivan, an independent financial adviser from Ithaca, N.Y., is a single dad of two children, 18 and 20.
A longtime Libertarian, he said New Hampshire is a breath of fresh air because there is no sales tax and no income tax. And though New Hampshire has its share of high property taxes, he said, his Ithaca taxes were worse.
Condon, the Free State organizer, had huddled Thursday with about 10 people to talk about ways to market themselves as ordinary patriots -- not the radical invaders some have portrayed them. The gathering was part bull session, part marketing meeting. It had the feel of a counseling group.
"Hi, I'm Tim Bowman from Milwaukee."
Everybody in unison: "Hi, Tim."
Freedom Festival events included speeches on home schooling, practical uses of industrial hemp, and New Hampshire's gun laws -- the primer to be given by the Gun Owners of New Hampshire group.
Howard L. Wilson, a longtime Libertarian from Andover, N.H., who had his .40-caliber Glock handgun holstered to his belt, said the Free State Project is getting bad publicity because of a splinter group called the Free Town Project. The town project is not affiliated with the Free State Project, though they share members. The town project members want to buy large tracts of land in Grafton.
"Their good name is being ruined," Wilson said of the Free State Project.
Wilson said many Granite Staters share similar beliefs, like opposition to the war in Iraq, opposition to the Patriot Act, and criticism of the latest campaign finance reform, which he says tramples freedom of speech.
Michelle Dumas, 34, a native Granite Stater living in Somersworth and the vice chairwoman of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, said the Grafton controversy does not reflect on the Free State Project.
"That was some bad P.R.," said Dumas, who runs an executive resume coaching business on the Internet. But she added people should not judge the group by one or two people.
Dumas said one of the group's challenges is that it promotes individual rights and privacy. So, in effect, people do what they want, and the Free State Project does not tell anyone what to do.
Yet, the Free State Project did encourage the Grafton rabble-rousers to tone down the rhetoric, and one loud-mouthed supporter was quietly told he was not welcome, she said.
As Dumas spoke, Free State members kept driving into the campground, which is in the heart of the White Mountains.
Like the Californian gold rush, some Libertarians and independents hoping to strike political gold came to New Hampshire for the first time.
Donald and Cathleen Converse, a couple in their late 40s, sold most of what they owned in South Carolina and drove north. With their belongings stowed in their vehicle and a storage depot, they hope to eventually find a home in Southern New Hampshire.
The Converses are as inspired as they are adventuresome. Their kids are a different story.
Asked what their three grown children thought of their move, they replied, "They think we're crazy."