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Porcfest XI: Free Staters' gathering in Lancaster focuses on DIY


June 28. 2014 7:01PM
Garrett Fox of the Baltimore area shows the 3-D printer he built. Fox spent several days last week at Porcfest XI in Lancaster, where new approaches to the distribution of technology were a popular topic among members of the Free State Project and other attendees interested in hearing their ideas. (BOB HOOKWAY/Union Leader Correspondent)

LANCASTER - The theme of the Free State Project's 11th annual summer gathering in New Hampshire is "DIY: Do it Yourself," as if most in the expected crowd of 1,500 for the final three days of the Porcupine Freedom Festival, or Porcfest XI, needed any urging in that direction.

Nearly everyone there Friday seemed to be a self-reliance advocate. The Free Staters are known for proudly marching to the beat of a different drum, or maybe about as many different drums as there are Free Staters.

So naturally many of the 300 or so workshops and classes throughout the week at sprawling Roger's Campground in Lancaster had some topics not found on the usual DIY home-improvement menu of weather stripping and carpet installing.

Sure, there was a Knitting 101 class on Tuesday, but later in the week came the popular instruction session on building one's own AK-47 rifle.

One of the reasons the Free State Project - a main reason, in fact - made migration to New Hampshire a priority around 2002 was the state's laws that favor gun ownership. That, coupled with the Granite State's perceived disdain for government regulation of all sorts proved a powerful draw for many of the movement's members. More than 15,000 have, according to organizers, pledged to move to New Hampshire eventually.

Taking a break late Friday afternoon from the steady parade of seminars and instruction sessions in several nearby tents, Nicole Miller of Brooklyn and Finn Bruton of Manhattan - not Free Staters but curious, they said, about the movement - took in the overall scene in the shadow of the White Mountains foothills.

They said they couldn't help but note the constant cheeriness and good nature of the attendees and agreed that it would be hard to imagine a fight breaking out among them, especially under Friday's perfect summer weather.

"They can't get in a fight; they're all packing heat," Miller said with a laugh.

"There are so many different factions here: precious metals Bitcoins, you name it. But they all kind of get along," Bruton said.

In fact, it was hard to tell from discussion with several attendees whether there was a single common purpose.

There is a formal political element. Literature was available urging attendees to back the New Hampshire Senate campaign of Dan Hynes, who's seeking to become the Senate's first Free Stater. He's running in District 11, which comprises Amherst, Merrimack, Wilton and Walden.

The Free State Project's mascot is the porcupine, a gentle, unassuming creature until it's stepped on, say members. Members often refer to each other as "porcupines,'' hence the festival's title.

"Your purchasing power has declined since 1978," Nick Bold told his audience of about 25 as he held court in one of the large tents during a discussion of what the world's economy may look like one day.

"We didn't see this at the beginning," he said of the individual's financial slide, "because we had outsourcing to deal with."

Bold, a rapid talker, describes himself as a scientist and engineer. His company, technocopia, is in Worcester, Mass. Its motto is, "The future of abundance through technology."

"Who do you serve? Think about that," he urged his listeners. "Who do you serve?"

In attendance was Garrett Fox of the Baltimore, Md., area. He had with him a 3-D printer he'd made and said his plans to distribute them - just "give them to the next person" to expand and improve them - is an intriguing way to, as Bold mentioned, distribute technology without exchanging money.

The weeklong gathering concludes today.

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