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I M An Hampshire And I Wanna Be Free

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Chickens and sheep began to disappear at alarming rates. Patrick Iber. While Pendarvis eventually had to take his mail-order Filipina bride business and dreams of municipal takeovers elsewhere read: Texashis comrades in the Free Town Project remained undeterred.

How could it not? Please upgrade your browser and improve your visit to our site. The woods of North America are home to some three-quarters of a million of them; on average, there is at most one human fatality from a black bear attack per year, even as bears and humans increasingly come into contact in expanding suburbs and on hiking trails.

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More From the Magazine. Soon enough, the bears were hanging out on porches and trying to enter homes. Look Back in Anger. Between andthe of bears doubled in the wildlife management region that includes Grafton. And John Babiarz, the erstwhile inaugurator of the Project, became the target of relentless vilification by his former ideological cohorts, who did not appreciate his refusal to let them enjoy unsecured blazes on high-wildfire—risk afternoons.

Is it the lack of zoning, the resulting incursion into bear habitats, and the reluctance of Graftonites to pay for, let alone mandate, bear-proof garbage bins?

Drier summers may well be robbing bears of traditional plant and animal sources of food, even as hotter winters are disrupting or even ending their capacity to hibernate. The bears, for their part, were left to navigate the mixed messages sent by humans who alternately threw firecrackers and pastries at them.

But tracking headlines on human-bear encounters in New England in his capacity as a regional journalist in the s, Hongoltz-Hetling noticed something distressing: The black bears in Grafton were not like other black bears. You are using an outdated browser. Some kept feeding the bears, some built traps, others holed up in their homes, and still others went everywhere toting increasingly larger-caliber handguns.

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In that, they are hardly alone. The bear problem, in other words, is much bigger than individual libertarian cranks refusing to secure their garbage. What Richard Hofstadter Got Wrong. Grafton was a poor town to begin with, but with tax revenue dropping even as its population expanded, things got steadily worse. When bears show up in higher-income communities like Hanover home to Dartmouth CollegeHongoltz-Hetling notes, they get parody Twitter s and are promptly evacuated to wildernesses in the north; poorer rural locales are left to fend for themselves, and the residents blamed for doing what they can.

The Town That Went Feral When a group of libertarians set about scrapping their local government, chaos descended. Their prosperity also appears to be linked to man-made disasters that have played out on a national and global scale—patterns of unsustainable construction and land use, and the climate crisis.

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Samuel Moyn. Might not Grafton, with its lack of zoning laws and low levels of civic participation, be the perfect place to create an intentional community based on Logic and Free Market Principles? The World The Economist Made. And so the Free Towners spent years pursuing an aggressive program of governmental takeover and delegitimation, their appetite for litigation matched only by their enthusiasm for cutting public services. These people had found one another largely over the internet, posting manifestos and engaging in utopian daydreaming on online message boards. Chris Lehmann.

When Graftonites sought help from New Hampshire Fish and Game officials, they received little more than reminders that killing bears without a is illegal, and plenty of highly dubious victim-blaming to boot. Well, nevertheless. Particularly important for the story is one John Babiarz, a software deer with a Krusty the Klown laugh, who decamped from Big-Government-Friendly Connecticut in the s to homestead in New Hampshire with his equally freedom-loving wife, Rosalie.

Had not the woman savaged by a bear been cooking a pot roast at the time? Nearly two and a half centuries later, Grafton has become something of a magnet for seekers and quirky types, from adherents of the Unification Church of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon to hippie burnouts and more. Meanwhile, the dreams of numerous libertarians came to ends variously dramatic and quiet.

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Patrick Blanchfield PatBlanchfield. Whether such indifference and complacency gets laundered into rhetoric of fiscal prudence, half-baked environmentalism, or individual responsibility, the end result is the same: The bears abide—and multiply. If not, well, then we had all best get some practice in learning when and how to play dead, and hope for the best.

After one particularly vicious attack, a shadowy posse formed and shot more than a dozen bears in their dens. Might the bears be deranged somehow, perhaps even disinhibited and emboldened by toxoplasmosis infections, picked up from eating trash and pet waste from said unsecured bins?

Soon, they convinced themselves that, evidence and reactions to Pendarvis notwithstanding, the Project must actually enjoy the support of a silent majority of freedom-loving Graftonites. Or at least—not yet.

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But some may take refuge in confidence that, when the metaphorical chickens or, rather, bears finally come home to roost, the effects are never felt equally. Franz quit his survivalist commune, which soon walled itself off into a prisonlike compound, the better to enjoy freedom.

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Household pets went missing, too. In its public education campaigns, the U. Spread your arms and legs and cling to the ground with all your might, facing downward; after a few attempts to flip you over no one said this would be easythe bear will, most likely, leave. This effort, which was thoroughly illegal, merely put a dent in the population; soon enough, the bears were back in force. For inspirations, they drew upon precedents from fiction Ayn Rand loomed large as well as from real life, most notably a series of micro-nation projects ventured in the Pacific and Caribbean during the s and s.

There can be no definitive answer to these questions, but one thing is clear: The libertarian social experiment underway in Grafton was uniquely incapable of dealing with the problem.

Buy on Bookshop. Black bears, it should be stressed, are generally a pretty chill bunch. After losing a last-ditch effort to secure tax exemption, a financially ruined Connell found himself unable to keep the heat on at the Meetinghouse; in the midst of a brutal winter, he waxed apocalyptic and then died in a fire.

And so the Free Town Project began.

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Unless, that is, the bear in question hails from certain wilds of western New Hampshire. Such are the paradoxes of Freedom. Hongoltz-Hetling profiles many newcomers, all of them larger-than-life, yet quite real. The resulting narrative is simultaneously hilarious, poignant, and deeply unsettling. And then the bears moved in.

Most bears avoid loud noises; these casually ignored the efforts of Graftonites to run them off. Ignoring institutional failure and mounting crises does not make them go away.

More than once, Hongoltz-Hetling flags the fact that upticks in bear activity unfold alongside apparently ever more frequent droughts. Exceptions like Doughnut Lady aside, no one wants bears in their backyard, but apparently no one wants to invest sustainably in institutions doing the unglamorous work to keep them out either.

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In the case of Grafton, the history of Living Free—so to speak—has deep roots. Hongoltz-Hetling investigates the question at length, probing numerous hypotheses for why the creatures have become so uncharacteristically aggressive, indifferent, intelligent, and unafraid.

One Graftonite was playing with her kittens on her lawn when a bear bounded out of the woods, grabbed two of them, and scarfed them down. In a United States wracked by virus, mounting climate change, and ruthless corporate pillaging and governmental deregulation, the lessons from one tiny New Hampshire town are stark indeed. After all, in a town with fewer than registered voters, and plenty of property for sale, it would not take much for a committed group of transplants to establish a foothold, and then win dominance of municipal governance. Pressed by bears from without and internecine conflicts from within, the Free Town Project began to come apart.

Potholes multiplied, domestic disputes proliferated, violent crime spiked, and town workers started going without heat. Libertarians Seek a Home on the High Seas.

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Meanwhile, human garbage, replete with high-calorie artificial ingredients, piles up, offering especially enticing treats, even in the dead of winter—particularly in places with zoning and waste management practices as chaotic as those in Grafton, but also in areas where suburban sprawl is reaching farther into the habitats of wild animals.

This was Freedom, after all. Clearly, when it comes to certain kinds of problems, the response must be collective, supported by public effort, and dominated by something other than too-tidy-by-half invocations of market rationality and the maximization of individual personal freedom. Even when the state has tried to rein in the population with culls, it has been too late. Rachel Riederer. Grappling with what to do about the bears, the Graftonites also wrestled with the arguments of certain libertarians who questioned whether they should do anything at all—especially since several of the town residents had taken to feeding the bears, more or less just because they could.