Seacoast Paper Reports on FSP’s 1000th in NH
Here’s the piece from the Seacoast Online:
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Nearly a decade after establishing roots in New Hampshire, members of the Free State Project are welcoming their 1,000th member to the Granite State.
The milestone member relocated this week and has found a home on the Seacoast, according to local members of the pro-liberty activists group.
Founded in 2001, the goal of the Free State Project was to recruit 20,000 libertarian-leaning people to move to a single state to concentrate their efforts. New Hampshire was selected as the target state in 2003.
Since then, 1,000 people from all over the country have moved to the Granite State and officially registered as members of the organization.
Portsmouth resident Michael Finger was the 932nd member to move to New Hampshire.
Finger said the way the Free State Project works is that participants sign a statement of intent, declaring they will move to New Hampshire within five years of the movement getting 20,000 signatories.
More than 11,500 people have signed the statement of intent.
Finger said he ended up moving to New Hampshire over the summer because he got anxious and decided to follow a separate, but related effort, called Free State Now.
Instead of waiting until the movement got 20,000 signatories, Finger said, the Free State Now effort encouraged people to not wait and make the move as soon as possible.
Finger, who moved from Manhattan with his wife, said he chose to move to Portsmouth out of all of the other places in the state.
“We like New Hampshire because we like the way it is,” he said. “People are friendly and it seems a little bit more sane.”
Finger said he considers himself to be a “refugee” from a big-government state.
Like many other members of the Free State Project, Finger said he moved to New Hampshire because of the state’s business-friendly climate.
“It’s got a low unemployment rate and it’s easy to start a business,” he said.
Finger owns a consulting firm called Centinel Consulting, on Middle Street. He said many of his friends in the city also own businesses and have moved from places such as Colorado and California.
Erik Voorhees, a former resident of Colorado, said he moved to New Hampshire with his girlfriend nearly one year ago.
Voorhees said he joined the Free State Project because he liked its principles.
“I like that it is effectively trying to move more libertarian types to one small geographic area to have a much larger impact,” he said. “People of our political persuasion tend to be scattered around. I consider this to be quite a smart thing.”
Voorhees, 27, said the movement is full of diverse and progressive people of all ages and interests.
“I know Free-Staters of all ages, from age 5 to 88 years old, and everywhere in between,” he said.
“This is an important benchmark” said Free State Project President Carla Gericke, who moved from New York City in 2008. “It shows people are willing to vote with their feet for more freedom. We are modern day pioneers.”
The “First Movers” have made vast strides, according to Gericke.
At least 12 are now state representatives, and numerous others serve on school and town boards. Others have founded or worked with organizations that highlight liberty-oriented issues, such as the N.H. Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy; the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, which grades state representatives according to their voting records; and Cop Block, a police accountability organization.
Some have created a strong independent media presence in New Hampshire, such as Free Talk Live, a nationally syndicated radio talk show based in Keene.
Others have also started private charities and mutual aid societies, such as Shire Sharing, which delivers care baskets to the needy, and Fr33 Aid, which provides volunteer first-aid at events such as Liberty Forum and the Porcupine Freedom Festival.
When asked about the reasons for the movement’s growth, Gericke said a combination of factors have been at play. She cited the economic downturn, the popularity of Ron Paul and his message of limited government, the growing national debt, the federal government’s overreach on issues such as education and health care, and the country’s involvement in wars under President Barack Obama.
“With its ‘live and let live’ culture, its livability, its low taxes, its relative prosperity,” Gericke said, “New Hampshire is well-situated to become the beacon of liberty for the rest of the country.”