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Author Topic: At the crossroads, redux  (Read 48123 times)

varrin

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #60 on: December 29, 2006, 05:10:24 pm »

Y'all,

Guess it's time for me to jump into the fray on what direction the FSP should take next. :)  I've been giving all this quite a bit of thought for the last several months.  I'd like to review for a minute before I propose future action.  My review will be in this message (part 1 of 2).  My proposed actions will be in the next message (part 2 of 2).  I apologize for being so verbose, that's just how I am :)

The idea of a 'mini' pledge came about a little over a year ago.  I don't know who first mentioned it, but I proposed and continued to propose several variations on a theme (including something *very* similar to option #2) throughout the year in 2005 until the Board finally agreed to the First 1000 project.  There were some objections, including objections to a deadline for signing and to the use of pledgebank to collect the signatures.  Despite the objections, I advocated pressing on in the interest of doing something rather than nothing.  Unfortunately, those objections were based on potential problems that have been largely realized. 

Based on the events this year, I am of the opinion that the FSP needs to make some changes to its tactics regardless of whether or not the First 1000 program gains 1000 pledges before the end of the month.  I disagree with Jason's position that this is a 'contingency' plan.  While I'd prefer an honest success (wouldn't we all?), it wouldn't affect my opinion that we have made several tactical errors along the way.  In the airline business, we often say “I'd rather be lucky than good.”  The truth is, I'd rather be lucky and good enough not to need it.  I believe some changes to the FSP's design would make it better, regardless of whether we get lucky or not.

I will say that the principle of setting ambitious goals in terms of numbers and/or times is *not* something I count among the errors the FSP has made.  I affirm the idea of ambitious goal setting and working hard to achieve those goals.  I'd like to remind everyone that we have not failed at every goal we've attempted (the $50/month pledge goal was exceeded by over 20% prior to its deadline). 

What we have done, twice now, is engineered pledge programs that (in reality or some peoples' perceptions) 'invalidate' *all* of the pledges if a certain deadline is not met.  This error was a perception the first time around (the Sept 2006 deadline), and a reality the second time solely because of the way Pledgebank works.  (Yes, this was brought to my attention prior to the inception of the program) 

Another error we made specific to the First 1000 pledge was to use pledgebank to collect our signatures for it.  I like pledge bank and I think they offer a great service.  Their customer support has been excellent, especially in the last week or so.  However, there are countless problems associated with using them for our purposes (including some that go well beyond the First 1000 program).  Pledgebank is a great service, but there are many reasons to have our own system in place for these kinds of things.

Errors aren't all we've made, though.  The concept of a pledge and, for many, the reality of the original SOI and the First 1000 pledge, has been very persuasive in getting pro-freedom activists to move to NH.  Though we have made some errors operating our pledges, I'm not of the opinion that pledges are inherently bad.  They have been a key component in our success so far.

This brings me to asking probably the most important question:  How do we define success?  What is our overall goal?

While many ridiculed the Board for taking a seemingly absurd amount of time crafting (err amending) our mission statement, I submit the work that was done may have been among the best and most important things the Board has ever done.  We have a mission that is clearly stated, accurate, and, I believe, worthwhile:

"The Free State Project is an agreement among  20,000 pro-liberty activists to move to  New Hampshire, where they will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. The success of the Project would likely entail reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms at all levels of government to expand individual rights and free markets, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world."

While we may need to amend it (slightly) again, the underlying principle is sound:  many pro-liberty activists move to New Hampshire and work to create a Free State (as defined above).  The goal is the creation of a Free State.  The method is pro-liberty activists moving to New Hampshire and focusing a geographically concentrated effort towards achieving that goal.  I believe the goal is good, and believe the method is good. 

Today, we can verify that pro-liberty activists are applying a vector towards the goal (even though the overall direction is still away from freedom).  Pro-liberty activists have taken action which has resulted in easily identifiable increases in freedom over what there would have been without their action.  New Hampshire is a freer state than it would have been without those activists.

We can verify the FSP's method is functional by observing what (if any) action mentioned in the above paragraph was substantially performed by people who moved to New Hampshire (as a result of the FSP) to perform those actions.  New Hampshire is freer because of pro-liberty activism, and in many cases we have been able to identify the activists as FSP Participants who have moved to New Hampshire. 

We are moving towards the goal, and our method of moving there is working.  At the inception of the FSP, we had only an idea, a dream.  Today, we have a track record of pro-liberty activists actually moving and actually causing there to be more freedom in New Hampshire than there would have been without their influence.  That proves the concept of the Free State Project.  All that's left now is to scale the project such that the goal (a Free State, as defined above) is met.

The questions then are twofold:

1:  What's the required scale?  How many people do we need to make New Hampshire a Free State?  This has been debated and maybe should continue to be debated (not at the expense of pursuing success, of course).  Lately, though, it seems the consensus falls in the 1000 – 5000 range.  (I've said 2000 since early 2003). 

2:  How do we attract the required number of people?  What tactics will we use to persuade people that they should move to New Hampshire and work to create a Free State?

As luck would have it, I don't think there's anyone (with an ounce of sanity) who thinks we've already achieved the required scale.  Consequently, we can safely work to attract more people, maybe until New Hampshire is so free that we start sending 'ambassadors' to places like New York and California to show them how it's done.  ;)

So what have we learned about attracting people to New Hampshire?

With respect to pledges, we have learned several things:

1:  Pledges are persuasive.  Some people indicate they have moved because they believed many other people would move also.  If I didn't believe others would move (eventually), I would not have moved.  Many other people have said the same thing. 

2:  Specific or narrowly defined pledges exclude some people.  We have received reports of people who want to pledge something but the available options don't suit them.  Examples include numbers, deadlines, and 'restrictions' (I believe some people didn't sign the First 1000 pledge because of the “only if” phrase).

3:  Pledges engineered to 'self-destruct' are a bad idea.  Though the original SOI (20k) didn't include the Sept. 2006 language, the FAQ did, at one time, mention that failure to achieve 20k signatures by then would result in the FSP disbanding.  The First 1000 pledge deadline is engineered (by pledgebank) to 'self-destruct' at the end of this month.  It's clear that neither of those actually represent the wishes of the people who pledged.  The evidence is this:  many people have already moved (the FSP didn't disband), and many F1K signers have stated they'll move regardless of the number of signers at the deadline.  In that respect, we're far outperforming our goal.

With respect to other factors that attract people, we have learned that activity and actual success excites people and encourages them to move:

1:  Porc Fest excites people and encourages people to move. 
2:  Liberty Forum has people excited (I hope it will persuade some to move). 
3:  Free Stater success excites people and persuades people to move. 
4:  In some cases, I believe the social network that has developed has attracted people here, too.

In summary:

1:  The goal of creating a Free State is good and pro-freedom activists have been successful at vectoring NH in that direction.
2:  The method of attracting pro-liberty activists to NH for the purpose of creating a Free State is working.  Furthermore, those who have moved have had success at moving towards the goal.
3:  The pledge components of the FSP (the SOI and F1K) have influenced pro-freedom activists' decisions to move to NH.  Other factors appear persuasive as well.
4:  Both of the FSP's pledges, as designed, have been plagued with various problems including perceived and/or actual self-destruction, aging or poor quality data, and inadequate flexibility.
5:  Despite the growing pains the FSP is currently experiencing, people continue to move to NH, successfully influence the state in a pro-freedom direction, and experience satisfaction with their choice to come here for this purpose.

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varrin

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #61 on: December 29, 2006, 05:11:01 pm »

Part 2:

Based on the evaluation of the past, it appears there continues to be a purpose for the FSP.  However, it also appears some of the details of how the FSP goes about attracting pro-freedom activists to NH needs to change. 

There are currently three 'leading' proposals on the table with respect to what to do in the future.  They are:

1:  Eliminate pledges and/or other forms of counting numbers of people intending to move to NH.  Instead, focus on promoting the pro-freedom benefits of NH with the hope of encouraging more people to move sooner. 

2:  Design a more flexible pledge or SOI program.  Allow people to choose time frames and/or number of signers required to trigger their commitment to move.  Continue to encourage moving sooner rather than later.

3:  Stick with the existing SOI, but continue to encourage people to move early.  Continue to work towards the 20,000 goal, but with no expiration date.

I believe counting statements of intent and/or a pledge is persuasive and inspires more action sooner.  Consequently, I do not favor solution #1 above. 

I believe the First 1000 program has resulted in more people committing to move earlier (regardless of the success of the pledge itself, as designed).  However, it was as second pledge on top of the original SOI which added confusion and was poorly designed.  Simply 'pressing on' towards 20k doesn't seem to have that same level of appeal.  The stagnation may reduce participation which would be undesirable.  Consequently, I don't favor #3 above.

If we're going to do any pledging and/or SOI-ing, I would favor a flexible program.  The following kinds of flexibility appeal to me and, I suspect, might appeal to others:

1:  Ability to opt out if necessary.  Some people have asked to be removed from the original SOI.  It's more honest to the other people to simply do that.  Prior to a commitment being triggered, people should be able to remove themselves and/or change their level of commitment.  Consequently, the wording of any pledge and/or SOI should accommodate such changes up until some time shortly before their stated commitment is triggered.

2:  No self-destructing deadline.  If people have the ability to opt out, that eliminates the need for a self-destruct clause.  If the project doesn't progress at a rate that makes any particular person happy, they can simply 'unstate' their intent.  Those who are committed to concentrated activism in NH can adjust their commitments, or just move anyway.

3:  Flexible triggers.  Some people want to wait until some other number of people have become similarly committed.  Because there is really no exact consensus on how many people are required to make NH free, and because some people are ready to move even without the required number of people, that trigger number might vary from person to person.  Allowing people to select from a list (or even type in any number they like) would enable more people to be more comfortable committing to move.

4:  Flexible timing.  For some people, 1 year is plenty of time to get moved.  For others, 5 years might not be enough.  If we allow people to select the amount of time after their trigger is reached, they will be better able to make commitments and keep them.  There may be merit in considering capping time limits at 5 years.

5:  Data reliability / freshness measurement.  There have been numerous complaints about suspected aged and/or unreliable data.  Two possibilities for resolving those complaints are to:  1)  require periodic contact, or 2) simply publish deidentified last known contact data.  The assumption is that people who signed up once and were never heard from again are less likely to move.  While the actual data is inconclusive (we've run into cases of people doing exactly that), there is at least that perception to consider.

None of this discussion actually addresses another core problem which is recruiting methods.  It is not my intent to address that problem in this message.  I am, however, very aware of it and believe it, too, should receive attention.

My recommendation regarding the overall design of the project is:

1:  We redefine participation in the FSP as moving to New Hampshire.  Under this new definition, people who move here would be called participants.  People who have not yet moved here but who intend to would be called something else (pledges?).  We affirm the need for friends (who can't move either due to previous residency and/or inability to move here) and take maximum advantage of what help they may be able to offer to achieve our goals.

2:  We engineer a single, flexible, easy-to understand 'pledge' program with the features outlined above.  It would be worded as a revocable Statement Of Intent without an expiration date.  The user would supply time and trigger criteria suitable for them and we would report aggregate statistics on commitments.  I propose we suggest a default of no trigger (i.e. 0 other required participants) and 3 years and encourage people to sign it in that fashion if practical.

3:  We continue to work to gain new participants and new pledges.  We set goals from time to time which aim to achieve some target number of participants and/or pledges by a deadline (I favor realistic shorter-term goals combined with a larger long term goal).  We engage in activity aimed at meeting those goals.  We periodically evaluate our activity for the purpose of focusing more resources on more effective activity.

In order to accomplish the above, we'll need to decide on a name for people who state their intent to move to NH.  We'll also need to consult with IT to come up with a practical solution to the flexible pledge program.  We'll also need to come up with some goals for 2007 and beyond.  We'll also need to figure out what activities we should engage in based on our past successes and learning experiences.

As always, I appreciate feedback on these ideas and I'm sure the whole Board would, too.  And, of course, we always need more help actually doing these things :)

You can reach me at president at freestateproject dot org.

In Liberty,

V-

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Russell Kanning

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #62 on: December 29, 2006, 10:28:21 pm »

I think the 1st1000 is an ok idea .... I agree that we should not keep making pledges that selfdestruct. We are all taking steps towards liberty with the info we know. We don't have to wait for a specific number to join us. :)
I think the board should do some more wordsmithing. ;D
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Denis Goddard

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #63 on: December 29, 2006, 11:01:40 pm »

If I read you correctly, Varrin, we're talking about flexible 'pledges' with a choice of "triggers" and the ability to opt-out.
That sounds great :)

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #64 on: December 30, 2006, 12:09:26 am »

The most important thing the FSP should be doing, in my not at all humble opinion, is getting liberty lovers to move to New Hampshire and take part in making the state more free, and as soon as possible. Liberty in our lifetime, realistically, is going to take years of work, and we should have a few years of "lifetime" left to enjoy our regained liberty!

The number one question I would ask anyone considering signing up is: How soon can you get here? Answers to this question could be something like "within 5 years," "within 1 year," "I'm packing my bags RIGHT NOW!"
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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #65 on: December 30, 2006, 10:49:19 am »

I like Varrin's recommendation combined with a refocusing on the FSP promoting participants' activity in-state, to get people excited!
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RichW

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #66 on: December 30, 2006, 11:28:45 am »

Great posts varrin.  I agree with you on just about everything.

I believe counting statements of intent and/or a pledge is persuasive and inspires more action sooner.

Bingo.  Many prospective members become more active in the FSP once they sign the pledge.  Signing one’s name is a commitment.  It inspires planning and action because you are a member of something.  You belong.  You have a new purpose.  You can now ask others to join you because you have committed.

That is why I cannot support option #1.  How do you sell that?  It is easy if you are already in NH.  You can say “join me in NH”.  I am in PA.  If the pledge is dropped, what can I say to prospective members?  “Move to NH, because I will.”  ???  That just does not sell.  How do they know I will move if I have not committed to do so by signing my name?

Setting goals is vital to the success of any organization.  The ultimate goal of the FSP is to achieve liberty in our lifetimes.  But, we have to define for prospective members how we are going to achieve the goal.  Right now, getting 20,000 activists to NH is the how.  What do we tell them if we drop the how?

Choosing proposal #1 would be a fatal error IMHO.

I also cannot support proposal #3.  Like it or not, most people will not move to NH unless there is a reasonable chance for the project to be a success.  But, right now, we have limited our definition of “success” to getting 20,000 to sign the pledge.  Why limit the project to just this?  Some prospective participants do not care about how many people have committed to move, they care about how many have actually moved.  Why not let people define for themselves what constitutes a “reasonable chance for success”?

That is why proposal #2 makes the most sense.  It broadens the goal of the project.  It is more inclusive.  It gives people choice.  Why not use a simple pledge such as…

“I pledge to move to NH within __#__ years (maximum 10) of __#__ participants/movers (circle one).”

Thus, someone who wants to move now can pick 0 years and 100 movers (a goal that has already been reached).

Someone that wants to see 1,000 people on the ground before they commit to move can select 3 years/1000 movers.

A prospective participant that believes that we don’t need 20,000 participants, only 10,000 can choose 5 years/10,000 participants.

Ad infinitum.

The only thing I disagree with varrin about is the maximum # of years for the pledge.  5 is not high enough.

Right now, a parent with a 12 year who doesn’t want to move the kid away from grandparents, cousins, etc., can’t sign the pledge…it may be 6+ years until the child leaves the house.  A prospective participant who will retire in 7 years, but cannot move until then because of pension vesting, health insurance reasons, etc. can’t sign the pledge today.  A business owner (ahem) that cannot move or sell his business for 8 years can’t sign the pledge as currently constructed.  Excluding people such as this makes it harder to reach the 20,000.  It reduces the sign-up rate.  Why would we not want to include these people?  As I said above, if allowed to make the pledge, they are more likely to become active members.  They will begin to plan.  They will be more likely to contribute time and money towards the project.

True, pledging to move 20 years from now isn’t much of a pledge.  There should be some maximum…my suggestion – 10 years.  5 is too limiting.  It is preventing those of us who are truly committed to moving, but have a longer time frame from signing up.

In sum, I strongly favor proposal #2.  In terms of the details of varrin’s plan:

1:  Opt out – it is only fair to do this if the pledge is changed.

2:  No deadline – good idea.  The original thought that the project would be killed in ’06 if it didn’t reach its goal of 20,000 ain't gonna happen.  Our signup rate is very healthy – nearly 2 new participants every day.  And, too many have already moved and are successfully accomplishing things in NH to let the project die.  If a present participant does not like the lack of a deadline they can opt out.

3:  Flexible triggers – absolutely, see above.

4:  Flexible timing – absolutely, see above.  Not 5 years, 10 – see above.

5:  Data reliability – too onerous a task to require periodic contact.

In terms of varrin’s suggestions for the overall design of the project:

1:  Disagree.  Changing the definition of “participant” would be confusing.  We should want a greater number of people to feel that they are “participating”.  I don’t get why we’d want to make a change here.

2:  New pledge – agree with everything.

3:  Goals – agree with everything.  As I said above, good organizations set goals and define how they are to be reached.  I know some are frustrated that we have “failed” at some of our goals.  That misses the point.  People begin working towards goals once they are set.  And, whether or not the goal is reached, progress is made.  We may not reach the First 1000 goal.  But, hasn’t the effort helped us reconnect with some participants?  Haven’t we attracted new members to the project because it?

Goals – 2007 and beyond…a few suggestions:  It would be great to motivate people about the 2008 Presidential Primary and general election.  How ‘bout – 1,000 in-state, 10,000 participants, 3 participants in the state house.  I can see the newspaper article:

Free State Project Reaches Half-Way Mark

KEENE, New Hampshire, Nov. 5, 2008 – The Free State Project, a movement whose goal is to recruit 20,000 freedom activists to move to New Hampshire, reached it’s half-way point yesterday, just in time for the 2008 elections.  This writer is not sure whether November 4, 2008 will be remembered as fondly as some other famous dates in the history of freedom.  But, make no mistake – it was a big day.  Shortly after learning that they tripled their numbers in the New Hampshire State House, the Project saw its membership grow to 10,000 and greeted its 1,000th early mover as she crossed the border from Massachusetts.  In an interview with the president of the Free State Project,…
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Pat K

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #67 on: December 30, 2006, 02:05:02 pm »

Gee so much angst. So much what is wrong.


Fact is a couple hundred folks have MOVED to NH And almost a thousand have pledged to move in the next 2 years!!!
Holy shit these people have packed up and moved others are pledging  to do so shortly!! This by itself is amazing.

We lose sight of this sometimes. People are moving for the idea of liberty in their lifetimes, these folks are not the wretched refuse or teeming poor who had to leave were they were. They are by and large folks who were doing well and would do well were ever they were. But they moved and are moving .

With no big budget, no full time staff, no force and much infighting, you freaking liberty geeks have took an idea and made it a reality!!

Is it happing as fast as we would like? No but in a constant steps it is happening= an idea, an article, a website, small gatherings, larger gatherings, people moving, people elected to office, bad bills defeated, good bills passed, more folks move ....


Slowly It turns inch by inch step by step  ;D  Some folks have worked so hard and cared so much that they are at the burn out stage, they need some well earned rest. They also need to look around and see what they have done, it is "a good thing" ;D


By all means evaluate what has worked and not worked, plan for maximum effect. But don't think that what has already happened does not count.

Every time I go to NH and see people involved in this thing of of ours, they are doing some thing I don't see all the time every were else. They are smiling !!! Yes they are even Lloyd a certified curmudgeon. They are because they can't help it, they feed off each other. Even us individual mind folks like to have others around who are like us. This should be told often and experienced by more.


The revolution has begun.  The Free State Project LIVES.


One day at a time. One person at a time. One family at time. One bill passed at a time. One bad bill defeated at a time. One person elected at a time. One New Porcupine born in the Free State at a time, it all adds up.




 
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Rocketman

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #68 on: December 30, 2006, 02:09:01 pm »


The revolution has begun. The Free State Project LIVES.


One day at a time. One person at a time. One family at time. One bill passed at a time. One bad bill defeated at a time. One person elected at a time. One New Porcupine born in the Free State at a time, it all adds up.


You said it, Pat.   ;)
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Russell Kanning

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #69 on: December 30, 2006, 08:58:19 pm »

The FSP can even make new yorkers optimistic 8)
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purewater4u.com

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #70 on: December 30, 2006, 09:15:54 pm »

I just received the email that said that the first 1000 have signed up to move. This is terrific! I only have one question on the pledge though. It says:

 'I will move to New Hampshire by 12/31/2008 where I will work to bring about a society in which government’s maximum role is protecting life, liberty, and property but only if 999 other liberty minded individuals will too.'

What's with the "but only if 999 other liberty minded individuals will too.'?

Yes, it would be great if everyone moved but we're not moving "only if" the others do. We're moving. It seems that with the "but only if" part in there, everyone is just going to sit and wait for everyone else.

Get rid of the "but only if" and highlight more on the difference that those that have already moved have made and what that difference means. I would also add a little bit on what new people can do once they get there. You know, give people an idea on how thay would be able to help change things, what needs to be done, etc. Which areas of the state could use more FSP activism, etc.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2006, 09:19:21 pm by purewater4u.com »
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Gabriel

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #71 on: December 31, 2006, 12:49:27 am »

The "but only if" has already been fulfilled: The pledge was successful and reached its threshold before the cutoff date. So, the "999 others" did indeed take the same pledge, which means that the "only if" is no longer in question.
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purewater4u.com

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #72 on: December 31, 2006, 05:32:13 am »

I hope this doesn't mean I have to wait for the other 999 to move first :'(
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Rocketman

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #73 on: December 31, 2006, 09:29:50 am »

I hope this doesn't mean I have to wait for the other 999 to move first :'(

I hope you're kidding, purewater.  A couple hundred of us are already here kicking ass.   ;D
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5/13/06: I'M HOME!!!!!!!!!  #401!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Russell Kanning

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Re: At the crossroads, redux
« Reply #74 on: December 31, 2006, 11:43:00 am »

I hope this doesn't mean I have to wait for the other 999 to move first :'(
I hope you're kidding, purewater.  A couple hundred of us are already here kicking ass.   ;D
I strongly oppose the kicking of anyone in any of their body parts. I think that is against the FSP's policies also. We need stricter enforcement of the bylaws. ;D

But I cannot stop you Rocketman if you are going to initiate force.

viva la revolution :)
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The NH Underground - "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -Mahatma Gandhi
New Hampshire Free Press - The Nonviolent Revolution Starts Here

"Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces." -- Etienne de La Boetie, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude
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