Shire Sharing 2015 Success – Over 600 Families Served, Over $17,000 Raised!

Shire Sharing 2015 Keeniacs

Keene Shire Sharing Volunteers Pre-Delivery, 2015

Today, more than 600 households statewide (39 in the Keene area) were delivered full Thanksgiving meals including turkey, stuffing, gravy, eggs, cornbread mix, vegetables, pumpkin pie ingredients, and some cooking supplies as part of the “Shire Sharing” charity now in its fifth year. Shire Sharing is based in Manchester and headed by state representative Amanda Bouldin, a Free State Project early mover.

Amanda has managed to continually grow the yearly charity event, which she began in memory of her father who did something similar in Dallas when she was growing up. In an interview for Free Keene today, Amanda reported that fundraising for 2015 reached record levels, allowing more than 600 families to be fed. She was hoping to raise enough for 500 families. (Last year, Shire Sharing fed 350 families – a huge increase in just one year!) This year, at least $17,000 was raised by direct contributions and fundraiser events.

State Rep Amanda Bouldin, UBER Customer

State Representative Amanda Bouldin, Founder of Shire Sharing

Though the first year of Shire Sharing was supposed to be a one-time event, Amanda says, “when the second year rolled around, everyone encouraged me to repeat the project. so we just keep going”. Despite the obviously high stress level involved in organizing such a massive operation, she’s committed to continue: “I know SS is very important to a lot of people — not just the recipients but the volunteers, too. I can’t quit!”

Yesterday, over 100 volunteers met at a warehouse in Manchester to help sort and bag the meals for delivery today, as Free Keene blogger Shire Dude reported here.

Last night, newer Keene-area mover Maria Korfiatis headed to Manchester to grab dozens of the bags for delivery, then this morning volunteers from this area gathered at the Church of the Invisible Hand’s “Society for Love and Peace” (SLAP) at 75 Leverett Street to head out on routes taking meals to Keene, Winchester, Ashuelot, Westmoreland, Swanzey, and Chesterfield.

It was Keene’s second year as part of the ever-growing Shire Sharing operation, and like last year, recipients were grateful for the special delivery! (more…)

Keenevention 2015: Day One Recap

Keene's Fall Colors, as of Friday!

Keene’s Fall Colors, as of Friday!

Dozens of liberty-loving people came together for the first day of New Hampshire’s only Fall freedom convention: Keenevention! The weather is sunny and beautiful and many trees still have colorful fall leaves on them, despite it being relatively late in the “leaf-peeping” season.

The first day of this third-annual event kicked off with the first-ever Political Action Panel where panel host Darryl W. Perry and his guests discussed working for political change outside of the two major parties. After that, Cop Blockers from Manchester and Keene took the stage in an informative panel hosted by Keene Cop Block‘s JP Freeman. We broke at noon for lunch, which this year is expanded from 90 minutes to a two-hour block, giving Keeneventioneers more time to explore Keene’s dining experiences and get back to the hotel with time to spare.

2015 Bitcoin Panel

The 2015 Bitcoin Panel

Following lunch, this year’s Bitcoin Panel began, hosted by Neocash Radio‘s Darren Tapp featured multiple bitcoin experts including head bitcoin programmer Gavin Andresen. The panel attracted many questions from the engaged audience. Following that, Darryl W. Perry took the stage for the first-ever Keenevention live auction benefiting the Ross Ulbricht legal defense fund, which totaled $436! Up next was the Secession Panel, hosted again this year by Rob Mathias of the Foundation for NH Independence. The independence advocates discussed how to move closer to secession becoming a reality in New Hampshire.

Finally, oathkeeper and Alstead town selectman Chris Rietmann took the stage to deliver the Friday night keynote address, covering his news-making open carry activism, his pro-liberty actions as a selectman, and support of activism of all stripes.

Chris Rietmann

Chris Rietmann Delivers the Friday Keynote

Friday’s attendance was up from last year and included visitors from San Francisco, Missouri, Indianapolis, Wisconsin, and New York. One guy just made the move from Michigan as part of the Free State Project! He packed up his life into his car and made Keenevention his destination and first stop in New Hampshire. We’re here at the Best Western in Keene all weekend – come on our and join us. The daily admission is only $30 and includes admission to tomorrow night’s HALLOWKEENE Costume Dance Party!

Remember, if you can’t make it in reality – all the panels and speakers will be released on video over the weeks following Keenevention, so stay tuned to the Keenevention blog for more announcements (you can sign up for emails when the blog has new posts using the signup box in the right column). You can also follow the new Keenevention Twitter, Keenevention’s facebook page and join the official facebook event here.

Will Sniperfest Continue in 2015?

It has been one year since the 2014 Keene Pumpkin Festival and subsequent riot which spilled into the streets through the following morning. While snipers perched above the festivities for the second year in a row, no one was aware at the time that the riots would spell the end of PumpkinFest as a downtown Keene tradition. This saturday, the Cheshire Fairgrounds in Swanzey as well as the city of Laconia will be hosting their own independent Pumpkinfests. With few places to position snipers at the fairgrounds, unless special towers are brought in, there will likely not be such a militarized presence there. The situation in Laconia is more likely to host police with rifles, as also the organizer of previous Keene Pumpkinfests, ‘Let It Shine’ is also coordinating this year’s Laconia event. Snipers-New-Hampshire-Poster4172180532

In the time since last year’s chaos, I had since discovered two different articles hosted by the Blaze and Vocativ which feature content from facebook posts I had made that day. While I was unsure whether or not I had in fact captured an image of someone pointing a firearm in my direction, upon seeing the image as presented in the Vocativ piece, it appears to very clearly be a rifle aimed at the are where I was filming from (which was a heavily populated area at the time).

Laconia police are likely stocked up on riot gear as part of their preparation for the motorcycle weekend sponsored there each year. With luck, the relocated festival won’t deteriorate into a glass bottle war, and riot squads will not make an appearance.

Robin Hood Case Goes Redux


Considerable time has passed since the city of Keene first filed a lawsuit against the meddlesome youths known as Robin Hooders. Following three days of testimonial hearings in October of 2013, a reunion party was hosted by the court for all initially involved, with three of six activists returning. Fine-tuning their excess to scale down the event significantly, the city would only present two witnesses, countered by two representing the defense, enabling what originally cost three days to wrap up within one.

The complications keeping the Robin Hood of Keene legal saga alive are as convoluted as the civil court system itself, which would have otherwise been unnavigable by the activists on defense if it were not for the appreciated representation by civil rights advocate attorney Jon Meyer. As the city’s attorneys began their case, Meyer declined to offer an opening statement, but instead asked if the city could clarify the specific demands it is seeking for “injunctive relief”.

Robert Dietel outlined that the CoK now requests no more than a ten foot “buffer zone” to float around parking enforcement officers. The request seemed modest compared to prior demands for 50, 30, and 20 feet of bureaucrat safety buffers. The tone of the day, echoing a sentiment expressed at the supreme court, seemed to be that the city’s attorneys would accept whatever “injunctive relief” they could be granted, anything to declare a small victory in what must be a loss of staggering proportions, both financially and politically. (more…)

NH1 Covers Keene Rainbow Bench Controversy

Renee Kate and Jazzy on the Rainbow Bench!

Renee Kate and Jazzy on the Rainbow Bench!

The United Church of Christ‘s response to the vandal(s) attacking their rainbow benches has been stellar – they’ve created a selfie challenge! You are invited to visit the bench with a loved one (or alone) and take a selfie, then post it to social media with the tag #onthebench

Now, NH news media is picking up on the story. Here’s the recent video report and article from NH1.

Responding to Vandalized Rainbow Benches, UCC Launches #onthebench Selfie Contest!

Jazzy Girl on the Rainbow Bench!

Jazzy Girl on the Rainbow Bench!

This morning, Christopher Cornell of the United Church of Christ at the head of Central Square in Downtown Keene announced a really cool selfie contest in response to  continued vandalization of their rainbow benches in Elsie Priest Park, just behind the UCC on Church St.

At least one unknown vandal in her sixties has been caught in the act of painting the rainbow bench in red.  She ran to her red compact car and took off.  The bench was subsequently painted rainbow by more volunteers, then attacked by the vandal(s) again, and so on.  The church has plenty of paint and volunteers.  Love will win over hate.

UCC administrator Mark C. Harris explained in a post to the church blog that the benches were painted rainbow this summer by volunteers and that they represent that, “We want everyone to feel welcome to use the park. This is in good keeping with our belief that all of God’s children are beloved, no matter who they are, or where they are on life’s journey. All are welcome, no matter their gender, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, sexual orientation, difference in abilities, religion or absence thereof.”

Renee Kate and Jazzy on the Rainbow Bench!

Renee Kate and Jazzy Showing Love > Hate

Today the benches are rainbow and people who side with love have been invited by the UCC to visit them and take a selfie, and post it on social media tagged with #onthebench.  there are prizes, and the contest for the best selfie ends Saturday September 5th, at 10pm, which coincides with the end of the Keene Music Festival.

Speculation abounds as to the motivation of the vandal(s) – it’s easy to jump to a conclusion and say it’s someone with an anti-gay sentiment, but longtime readers of this blog will also recall the controversy back in 2009 when local entrepreneur Dorrie O’Meara launched her Mexican restaurant Pedraza’s.  Some people around town were upset because O’Meara painted her building yellow!  Certain grumpy people in this area seem to hate colors besides brick red and gray.

Ian Freeman and Jazzy at the Rainbow Bench

Take this, vandals!

Cornell said in an interview for Free Keene that he thinks the first time the the vandal(s) struck, the benches were fully painted red, but that since then the vandal(s) have only painted over the yellow part.  He’s losing track of the amount of times the benches have been vandalized, but thinks it may have been at least six times, all since the beginning of August.

Smart move on the UCC’s part to make this into a hopefully-viral phenomenon.  The vandals, whatever the hate they carry in their hearts, probably weren’t expecting these benches to turn into a movement!

The Shire Free Church is joining in solidarity with the UCC and all those who support love over hate, so I went out with Renee Kate and Jazzy the Studio Dog for a photo shoot this afternoon.  Remember to tag your bench selfies with #onthebench on your social media posts.

Stay tuned to Free Keene for the latest on this controversy. Last year it was chalk causing controversy, this year it’s rainbows!

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