Jaded Activist and Talk Host Mark Edge Called Out on Misinformation During Porcfest 2019 Speech

Mark Edge's Speech at Porcfest 2019Free Talk Live host Mark Edge delivered a speech he called, “What is Freedom?” at the Porcupine Freedom Festival this year. Sadly, in recent years, Mark has become a jaded activist and has looked heavily at moving to some “special economic zone” project or another, or perhaps Seasteading. This was part of the focus of his speech, but luckily his negativity was trounced by facts presented by Free State Project founder Jason Sorens.

As he’s explained many times on Free Talk Live, Mark is disappointed with his confused perception of the activism happening in New Hampshire – he doesn’t believe many people are doing any, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary that he’s not willing to even investigate for himself. All of the amazing political success stories or other outreach successes are not persuasive to him. Government is slow to change, and Mark is soon to turn 50 and worries his time is running out, so why bother trying to change the system when he now believes he can just bribe a government to leave him alone? That’s the plan with the “special economic zone” concepts – pay off a government for more freedom. If you think that will work, I have a bridge to sell you.

Anyway, after his speech, Free State Project founder Jason Sorens called Mark out and corrected his various misinformation. The fact is, the New Hampshire freedom migration is a tremendous, unprecedented success. The activism happening here is varied and ongoing and the more libertarians move here, the better. Mark seems ready to give up, when technically we’ve barely just gotten started. The Free State Project’s official five-year move window began in 2016 and doesn’t end until 2021.

Mark has pointed out his frustration over the FSP’s slogan, “Liberty in Our Lifetime” given that many in the FSP have died in the last 15 years. I’ve tried to explain to him that it’s just a slogan. The odds we’ll end the coercive state in our lifetime are quite slim, however there’s no better place to give it our best shot than here in the Shire.

That’s not to say Seasteading or a special economic zone is a bad idea – I wish those projects much success and if they ever get anywhere, I’ll seriously consider a move there. Meanwhile, New Hampshire has more libertarians, voluntarists, and liberty-loving anarchists in the same geographic area than anywhere else on the planet. More are moving in every month. Plus, the natives here are naturally more freedom-friendly than places like New York. Yes, progress toward freedom can be frustratingly slow, but no one said this would be an overnight success or a cakewalk.

You can see Mark’s full speech plus the question-and-answer here:

Rest in Peace, Julia Miranda

Julia and her brother, Luthor Miranda, at the only rave held in the last 15 years in New Hampshire - at the Laser Center in Hooksett

Julia and her brother, Luthor Miranda, at the only rave held in the last 15 years in New Hampshire – at the Laser Center in Hooksett

Julia Miranda, the first true love of my life, passed away last weekend at age 34. Julia moved to New Hampshire with me in 2006 as part of the Free State Project. She was a longtime co-host of Free Talk Live, originating here in Keene, where she lived and once even ran for office. Her boyfriend and former FTL co-host and comic artist Marcus Connor spoke at her memorial service in Peterborough yesterday and shared some kind words from one of the many listeners of Free Talk Live who she touched with her witty, compassionate, and intelligent comments on-the-air. Julia loved electronic music, especially the Happy Hardcore subgenre. Since she discovered them as a young teen, Julia also loved attending raves and it was her passion for the electronic music scene that led her to my radio show, Free Talk Live.

In October of 2005, there was a ridiculous and shocking police raid against a peaceful rave in Utah. The raid included a helicopter hovering with spotlights and armed men rappelling down to violently kidnap approximately sixty people whose only crime was dancing without government permission. It was an outrage, but for the rave community, it was nothing new. Police had been harassing and arresting ravers for more than a decade prior to the Utah rave raid in 2005.

Because of her rave community connections, Julia heard our broadcast on Free Talk Live where we discussed the Utah rave and she was amazed that anyone in the media would actually empathize with the situation and further, support her right to live life how she wanted. After listening to Free Talk Live and later calling in to tell her own personal story of police harassment and arrest over cannabis possession, Julia sent me a very nice email. From that moment, our lives were never the same, and we would be forever intertwined, for the better.

It wasn’t long before Julia had signed the Free State Project‘s pledge to migrate to New Hampshire and moved in with me in my house in Florida. She’d lived on the East coast of Florida for years, while I’d lived on the West coast for my whole life to that point. Within months, we’d made the move to New Hampshire on Labor Day of 2006 as partners.

As Dave Ridley remembers in his recent video memorial for Julia, she excitedly ran for city council, and was horrified by the experience:

Beyond being threatened by the Attorney Genital over her campaign promise to return her paycheck to the people, a local politico had come into Panera, where she worked as a manager at the time, and bugged her about her campaign. For her, this was an unacceptable result of political action and she decided she wanted nothing to do with the process from then on. Politics is a nasty business and it wasn’t right for Julia, understandably. She decided to focus more on her career, our relationship sadly ended, and after working for years in the corporate world, she became a self-taught graphic designer.

Without ever having spent a single day inside a college classroom, Julia became a capable and competent graphic artist while working in the charitable giving department of C&S Grocers, one of Keene’s major employers. That was what Julia did – she mastered anything she set her mind to.

Julia in Toronto before the last Hullabaloo

Julia in Toronto, feeling great before the last Hullabaloo

She was super-smart and also very beautiful. It was a pleasure to be her partner for as long as I was. I’m definitely a better person today because I knew her.

While there was a time when Julia and my eventual teenage love, Renee were not close, thankfully they ended up becoming great friends, as I hoped they would. Renee loved raves as much as Julia, and Julia ultimately became her “rave mom”.

After leaving the corporate world, Julia set out as a freelance graphic designer and took a Christmas season job at Target in Keene to help pay the bills. Since she excelled at everything, they of course asked her to stay on after the holiday season. Julia always had an inspirational work ethic, and loved her new job in the electronics department. With her lifelong love for robots and computers, it was an easy fit for a her.

While the autopsy has not yet come in, I suspect her early demise at only age 34 had to do with an injury she recently suffered in her workplace, where two weeks before her death, she accidentally turned around and ran into a metal column, and as she described it to me, “almost got knocked the fuck out”. Apparently she did not go to the hospital, despite being laid out on the floor by the impact. Like Julia, I dislike hospitals and would probably have done what she likely did, brushed herself off and went back to work, as best as she could.

Julia passed away last week at an electronic music festival in New York. Renee and others were with her at the time, so she was with those who loved her, at a place where she felt at home. Some will take the easy road and blame drugs for her early death. Those people didn’t know Julia. No one I’ve ever known in my life was more careful about recreational drug use than Julia. She always tested what she’d acquired and spent time researching what she chose to put in her body. She also made it her mission to educate other ravers and anyone who was willing to listen, about responsible recreational drug use. (more…)

Libertarian National Chair Nicholas Sarwark Announces Move to New Hampshire

Nicholas Sarwark, LP Chair

Nicholas Sarwark, LP Chair Moving to New Hampshire ASAP.

When the national Libertarian Party‘s Chairman Nicholas Sarwark found the idea of migrating with other libertarians to New Hampshire, it was just an idea. Now, with thousands who have migrated here to the Shire since 2003, it’s no longer an idea but a successful proof of concept. We’ve had incredible, unprecedented activist successes, and it’s still early in the migration of the Free State Project.

In case you’re unfamiliar, thousands of the Free State Project‘s pro-liberty members decided in 2003 to migrate to New Hampshire over all the other states. Here are 101 reasons why they chose New Hampshire. Sarwark had heard about this back then and signed up. Then in 2016, the Free State Project reached its goal of 20,000 signers of their pledge to move libertarians and voluntarists to New Hampshire where our activism can be concentrated and have an actual impact. It has. As a result of our high concentration, a real liberty community has developed, unlike anywhere else in the world.

Sarwark witnessed the incredible and unmatched liberty community here in New Hampshire when he visited last month during the Porcupine Freedom Festival. In a post to his social media yesterday, Sarwark says of Porcfest:

Despite being a signer from way back, it was my first time attending. The experience was incredible, a sense of community, caring, cooperation, and peace. It’s not easy to describe, but it’s amazing to experience.

For a long time we early movers to New Hampshire envisioned a day when it would become so obvious that liberty is on the rise here that liberty-loving people would no longer be able to ignore our success and feel they needed to join in the fun. It appears we have reached that threshold. Sarwark’s public announcement is some of the biggest news that the FSP could really hope for in this area. In his post, he also says this:

Libertarian Party Logo 2016

The Libertarian Party Logo

Having stepped away from day-to-day operations of the car dealership here in Phoenix, I realized that there’s nothing stopping me from moving now. Valerie and I discussed it, talked to our kids about it, weighed out the pros and cons and decided together that we are moving to New Hampshire.

Assuming all goes according to plan, next month we will start our next chapter in the Granite State, surrounded by an intentional community of liberty lovers from all walks of life and I will trade my 17 year-old signer number for a brand new mover number.

Live free or die.

It’s a decisive move for Sarwark, who clearly had the experience at the Porcupine Freedom Festival that it was intended for – to let you experience what life is like when you’re literally surrounded by more liberty-loving people than you could possibly get to know.

Hopefully his decision will prod other libertarians to realize how futile it is to continue doing what they’ve always done, that we’re stronger when we concentrate our efforts in one place, and that the idea of concentration of activism is now a proven concept. Sarwark’s move is smart and should be seriously considered by anyone who cares about liberty. Kudos.

The Next Ten Years of Bitcoin Panel – Porcfest 2019

I recorded several videos of speeches and panels at the 2019 Porcupine Freedom Festival. This is the first of several that I’ll publish on the Free Keene YouTube channel.

Naomi Brockwell hosted a panel called “The Next Ten Years of Bitcoin” featuring Tone Vays, Vin Armani, Yury Polozov, Chris Pacia, and Jeffrey Tucker discussing the future of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

I Attended the Historic 2019 Porcupine Freedom Festival + Forkfest

Forkfest Sponsors Porcfest!

The New Hampshire Freedom Festivals!

This year, after a four-year absence, I returned as an attendee to the Porcupine Freedom Festival, aka Porcfest. I’m happy to say that Porcfest 2019 was a success and even featured some history-making civil disobedience. More on that in a moment. First, kudos to Rodger and Jessica Paxton and their crew for throwing an excellent festival – in spite of the now-expected political bungling by the Free State Project‘s board of directors. Longtime Porcfest attendee, and Free Keene blogger Rich Paul had this to say:

The tension that has subdued Porcfest for the last few years is finally healed. It feels like 2012 again.

Before I continue my review of the event, a little background:

After its rise to being one of the most well-attended libertarian gatherings on the planet and also becoming the most cryptocurrency-welcoming event as far as its vendors are concerned, the Porcupine Freedom Festival, which is organized each year by volunteers, but ultimately controlled by the Free State Project corporation, ended up making a few key errors. Yes, it was a mistake for them to kick me and my radio show out after a few volunteers made a stink back in 2016, but I don’t hold a grudge, and at the time even published a blog encouraging people to continue attending Porcfest.

That’s one of the more obvious mistakes they made, as despite my urging of people to continue to attend, attendance did drop sharply the following year, from what I have been told. However, the other things they botched were even more damaging to the event.

For years, and from before they decided to ban me, people who’ve attended the Porcupine Freedom Festival each Summer in Northern New Hampshire have complained that its recent years have been lacking in fun, partially due to an ever-increasing burden of rules at the event and centralized decision making on the part of the Free State Project’s board of directors. For instance, longtime vendors felt pushed out of the “Agora Valley” prime trading zone by the artificial extra costs imposed by the FSP onto the RV campsites in that area.

Nearly Empty Agora Valley @ Porcfest 2019

Nearly Empty Agora Valley @ Porcfest 2019

Where did these artificial costs come from? The story of Agora Valley is one that libertarians should know well and should have seen coming, but the libertarians running the FSP failed to see it and fell into the same centralized control trap they typically argue against. In the earlier years of the Porcupine Freedom Festival at Roger’s Campground, the first few rows of the RV camping area became, through natural market functions, the most desirable real estate in the park. The reason is that all the major speakers and events are held at the Pavilion at the bottom of the hill, so most campers will pass through that part of the RV area on their way to attend Porcfest’s various events. Eventually the zone was dubbed “Agora Valley” and vendors would compete to reserve the prime spots first for the upcoming year’s event, however the cost to the vendors at the time was the normal lot fee charged by the campground.

Eventually, someone at the FSP got the bright idea that Agora Valley should be managed by the FSP’s festival organizers, and a vendor’s fee and agreement was created. When asked, the FSP’s representatives generally will defend the fees as reasonable, since they include a ticket to the event, promotion to the event’s VIPs, as well as a listing in the event’s “Whova” event program app, for a very small premium on top. They are right – the Agora Valley vendor prices are reasonable. However, the market is clearly speaking, more this year than ever before, that the fees and rules are not welcome.

One way the marketplace responded to the failures of Porcfest’s central planning was to fork the entire event back in 2017 and create a decentralized libertarian camping festival called Forkfest, which just finished its third year. Click here to read more about the creation of the alternative, yet friendly event.

However the other way the market responded during this year’s Porcupine Freedom Festival, was the creation of the “Where it’s at” zone deeper in the RV area. Longtime Porcfest vendors and attendees, fed up with paying more than they had to or simply frustrated by the restrictions for Agora Valley, decided to opt-out and setup a hot zone of economic activity in the RV rows past the Valley’s “jurisdiction”. This mass exodus left Agora Valley nearly a ghost town at this year’s Porcfest.

To be fair, according to Shawn Grissom, this year’s Porcfest vendor coordinator, there were vendors in the lonely Agora Valley that did very well this year. That said, even Grissom agreed the FSP should let go of trying to organize the campground and focus on their event production alone. Let the market self-organize again in the camp/RV area.

Heroic Open-Air Drug Market at Porcfest 2019

Heroic Open-Air Drug Market at Porcfest 2019

Aside from the centrally-planned failure of Agora Valley, the rest of the 2019 Porcupine Freedom Festival went off well and received rave reviews. The Paxtons did a great job of bringing balance back to where Porcfest wasn’t just a family vacation spot – with approximately 200 kids and teenagers in attendance – but also a great party. This year there was a naked guy down at the campfire at night on at least a couple of occasions that I saw, along with a topless young lady, plus an amazing open-air drug market.

During the final night’s Free Ross auction to benefit imprisoned liberty hero and founder of the Silk Road underground market, Ross Ulbricht, there were two vendors set up just outside on a couple of picnic tables right next to each other. One vendor offered items for sale on a whiteboard such as “not mushrooms” and “not pot” while the other seller’s blackboard offered shrooms, flower, and edibles. It even included a shout-out to #freeross.

The little things like that made this year’s Porcfest feel like Porcfests of the past, but what made this year’s Porcupine Freedom Festival historic was what happened at the end of the Free Ross auction. After two hours and well over $10,000 had been raised from bidders on dozens of donated items, two activists donated a couple of eighth-of-an-ounce containers of cannabis to the remaining auction items. The auction was run by Mancamp founder Jay Noone and since he doesn’t have a auctioneer’s license, the entire event was civil disobedience. Noone then made Porcfest and likely New Hampshire history by auctioning off the cannabis to two lucky winners including me and the his assistant, Angie. What fun! (more…)

Forkfest Sponsors Porcupine Freedom Festival!

Forkfest Sponsors Porcfest!

Forkfest Sponsors Porcfest!

Back in 2017 a few NH liberty activists, including Free Keene bloggers Derrick and Steven decided to create their own friendly competitor to the Porcupine Freedom Festival, initially called Somaliafest. The idea was that it would be a decentralized alternative to Porcfest, which is the yearly festival thrown at Rogers Campground by the Free State Project. A few dozen folks came out to attend it and it went by a few names at the time. People seemed to have a good time so they decided to do it again in 2018.

The most important thing to know is that there’s no central committee deciding anything for the decentralized event. Just about the only thing generally agreed upon are the dates. Even the name has changed, depending on who you ask. In 2018, Free Keene blogger Darryl W Perry came up with the catchy name, “Forkfest”, which seems to have stuck with many participants. An unofficial Forkfest website was launched along with an unofficial Telegram chat room and unofficial Forkfest Forum. Liberty.menu has created an event to which one can RSVP. Last year there were even two competing event calendars made by attendees.

Darryl’s “Forkfest” name speaks to the idea that this event “forked” off from the Porcupine Freedom Festival. Some have noted that attending Forkfest felt to them like the first original Porcfests, which were much less centrally managed early on than they are today. Porcfest is still a great event, but its direction over the years has resulted in some wanting an alternative, and now they have it as Forkfest 2019 is coming up June 13th through 18th, at Rogers Campground. There are no ticket prices, as there is no organization behind the event. It’s just a bunch of liberty loving people coming to the same campground at the same time. Whatever happens, happens.

Five-Hour Rave at Somaliafest & Shirefest 2017

Five-Hour Rave at Forkfest 2017

Some Forkfest attendees may just want to hang out and camp with other like-minded people while others may wish to create activities and events for their fellow attendees. Usually, they’ll announce their plans on the Telegram chat or Forkfest forum and already there’s going to be “Mancamp”, nightly dance parties thrown by Anypay, and looks like at least a couple of food vendors. Maybe there’s something you want to see happen? Make it happen!

One excited past Forkfest attendee, Chris Waid of tech talk show Freedom Decrypted has stepped up to help promote Forkfest by purchasing a major sponsorship of Porcfest! Thanks to Waid’s efforts, Forkfest is now a Gold level sponsor of Porcfest! That means Porcfest’s VIP tent will be provided by Forkfest and Forkfest fliers will be in all Porcfest attendees’ bags, promoting Forkfest 2020. When asked about his reasons for sponsoring the event, Waid said, “As a programmer and CEO of a tech company that deals in free or open source software where forking is a common solution to problems of centralization it would have been difficult for me to pass on an opportunity to help sponsor events I love and particularly when one has been forked from the other.”

Porcfest is also promoting the sponsorship in advance of this year’s event, alerting Porcfest attendees that Forkfest 2019 is happening and is a great excuse to stay in New Hampshire even longer. Together, the events span 10 days and are both held at the same campground. Forkfest is this June 13th through 18th and Porcfest is the 18th through the 23rd.