If I Could Live Anywhere…Keene, New Hampshire

From the land of “Live free or die.”

Note from the editor:A friend of mine just sent me this article describing his hometown. I am so jealous. I’ve always said I would live and die here in Delaware, Ohio…but will I ever live to see the day that Delaware is described like this? Anyway, I think I’ve been recruited to live up there, but this article just shows me all the work we have yet to do here in Ohio and so many other places around the country.

Personally, I don’t think Keene residents should recruit/import more activists; I think they should do their country a favor and export them to other areas like Ohio that are in such short supply.

I will admit, being in the company of such great people DOES sound tempting.

111+ Reasons to Move to Keene

A lot has changed in Keene since this list was originally published in March of 2008. As of this writing (04/03/09), it has now been just over a year since the original list was released. Since then the activist population here has increased significantly and more activists are arriving each month while still others are planning their moves to Keene.

Keene is still the best destination for pro-liberty activists, now more than ever! From an activist perspective, it is challenging and full of exciting, ground floor opportunity. Whatever your brand of activism, whether political, disobedience, or media, you are welcome here. Here are some reasons why you should consider a move to Keene. Please feel free to link to, copy, and use this list however you like. Please visit the Free Keene Forum for discussion.

I’m re-ordering the list to put the demographic and lifestyle stuff toward the end, as the activism is now the top attraction to Keene. Plus, the counting system is a little different to make updating the list easier.

Keene Liberty Activism

There is so much to do in Keene, and the self-starting activists that are attracted here are always coming up with new ideas! Here are some of the regularly scheduled weekly and monthly activist opportunities happening in Keene as of this publication. Please see our Calendar for just some of our currently scheduled activism.

1. Social Sundays – Activists meet weekly on Sundays and socialize, strategize, and brainstorm. This event now draws 15-20 activists regularly, whereas a year ago it was 5-10. We set a record 32 people last month (Mar ‘09)!
2. Television Production – Free Minds TV is produced weekly in Keene at Cheshire TV by liberty activists. So many activists are now involved that spin-off shows are imminent, like the brand new “FreeK Minds TV”.
3. Calling WKBK’s “Talkback” – Activists tune into a local Saturday morning politico show, pick up their phones, and present the pro-liberty message to the hosts and listening audience. Even if you aren’t here yet you can listen and participate from afar. See the details in the Free Keene Forum.
4. Parking Meter Rescues – Activists walk around downtown Keene, spot cars at expired parking meters, and buy them some extra time, saving the cars’ owners from parking tickets! Activists leave envelopes on the windshields of the cars they save so drivers know who is responsible and giving the owners a chance to send in a contribution to the effort.
5. Bureaucrashing City Council Meetings – Local politicos suggested we “get involved”, so now Keeniacs (including even voluntaryists!) are crashing their meetings with signs, video cameras, and increasing numbers.
6. Community Kitchen Volunteering – Activists contribute time each week at the Keene Community Kitchen.
7. Monthly FIJA Outreach – As of this publication, despite numerous challenges issued to activists across the state, no other area of NH has regular Fully Informed Jury Association outreach. Keeniacs have been handing out jury nullification info in front of Cheshire Superior Court since August of 2008!
8. Monthly Food Drive – Each month at one of the Social Sundays, activists contribute food to the Keene Community Kitchen. Liberty activists in Keene certainly can’t be accused of being heartless or not involved in the community!
9. College Outreach – Activists visit the campus of Keene State College several times each year to distribute fliers and reach out to the students.
10. Keene Freedom Fest – Activists gather twice yearly in Railroad Square to reach out to the public, socialize, enjoy music, and spread the word of freedom!
11. Keene is the world destination for pro-liberty civil disobedience and noncooperation!

Keene: Liberty Media Capital of the World

No one has dared challenge this claim. Keene has more pro-liberty media for you to consume, distribute, and help create than anywhere else in the world. Here’s the current list:

1. Free Minds TV & Radio – Hosted by liberty-loving NH natives Toby and Nick, FMTV is widely distributed on cable access channels across New England and originates from Keene’s Cheshire TV. The nationally syndicated talk radio version of the show also originates from the Liberty Radio Network Studios in Keene.
2. Ryder Report – NH native and liberty activist Nick Ryder distributes his news reports on Youtube, FreeKeene.com, and on local cable access channel Cheshire TV.
3. Free Talk Live – Internationally syndicated, pro-liberty talk radio originating from the Liberty Radio Network Studios in Keene. Airs locally on 1290 WKBK and 1220 WZBK.
4. Liberty Radio Network – This 24/7 streaming audio collection of the best liberty oriented podcasts on the internet originates from Keene.
5. Anarchy in Your Head – Pro-liberty comic strip drawn in Keene, AiYH appears internationally via the internet and locally in the NH Free Press.
6. Obscured Truth Network – OTN Productions’ Samiam has located his TV studio in Keene and distributes his pro-liberty news and documentary work on Youtube, FreeKeene.com, and on Cheshire TV.
7. FreeKeene.com – Multi-user, multimedia blog by and for Keene area liberty activists. Features include a calendar, forum, chat room, live streaming video of activism, a free audiobook, this list, and more.
8. NH Free Press – Formerly the Keene Free Press, this pro-liberty newspaper published by Free Staters is widely available in Keene.

Keene’s Challenges

I did say in my introduction that Keene is a challenging opportunity. If you want easy street, you should look at some other areas of the state. On the other hand if you’re ready to accept what is and be the change you wish to see in the world, this is where you want to be. With that in mind, here are some of the challenges in Keene:

1. Courtroom Crackdown – The Keene District Court is attempting to ban cameras from the court and has even arrested Ridley Report’s Dave Ridley over it. This situation continues to develop.
2. Close proximity to both Massachusetts and Vermont + college town = lots of socialists and statists.
3. Arguably the highest property taxes in NH.
4. Existing state representatives have poor NHLA liberty ratings. Most are ranked as “Constitutional Threat”.
5. Zoning board stifling new and existing businesses.
6. Crackdown on property freedom in downtown “Historic District”.
7. More housing for incoming Keeniacs needed.

Keene’s Advantages and Opportunities

It’s not all doom and gloom – the future is bright here in Keene. Here are some already existing advantages as well as a few of the activist opportunities. Of course, you can always indentify and create your own and activists looking for an opportunity will join you! Get in on the ground floor of the peaceful evolution in Keene!

1. Keene cops not as nasty as bigger cities like Manchester.
2. Keene bureaucrats tend to not be as unfriendly as bureaucrats in other cities. The small size of Keene means they are less anonymous than bureaucrats in bigger cities, so they have to keep up their image.
3. Highest concentration of liberty-oriented media in the world – radio, television, internet, and newsprint. Nowhere else will the general population encounter the liberty message as often as they do in Keene. All this media serves as an activist attractor as well, meaning more activists will come to Keene over time, hopefully including you!
4. Establishment confused, angry, and unsure of what to do about liberty activism in Keene. Some seem to believe they can arrest their way out of it, but that just gets publicized and more activists move because of their aggression. It must be frustrating to be a bureaucrat or politician in Keene.
5. Establishment attempted to publish a hitpiece blog against Free Staters but only resulted in more positive publicity for us. They quietly took the blog off-line.
6. Our first candidate for city council in 2007 received thousands of dollars in free press coverage including two front page news articles and radio and tv interviews. The next municipal election is this year and activists are already gearing up for a much bigger showing.
7. That same candidate spent $70 and did very little campaigning, yet received over 22% of the vote.
8. Operation Politically Homeless outreach shows that Keene residents are overwhelmingly either libertarian or liberal. Self described liberals tend to be somewhat easier to convert to understanding liberty.
9. For politics, the small size and relatively low population of Keene makes for easy, affordable campaigning.
10. Free Marketeers, Voluntaryists, and Anarcho-capitalists will find a number of like-minded individuals in Keene. This is actually the core of the group, though more politically minded activists have been moving in recently, much to the chagrin of the city council.
11. Liberty-friendly Housing – Available but always in high demand. Investors may want to consider purchasing a multi-family home, owner occupying, and creating options for incoming movers while collecting rent and living with all your bills paid!
12. Cheshire TV – This cable access channel is the only local TV source in Keene and is therefore highly watched in the community. You can create your own television show, or work on one of the existing liberty oriented shows.
13. WKBK 1290 – Popular news/talk station with no call screening. Great way to get your pro-liberty views out to a general audience.
14. WZBK 1220 – Another news/talker, this one “progressive” simulcast from WKVT in Brattleboro. Also no call screener on their morning show.
15. WKNH 91.3 – College radio station with on-air opportunities. Start your own show!
16. The Keene Sentinel – daily paper with fair reporting, could use some letters to the editor.
17. Internships and jobs may be available at the above established media organizations.
18. City Elections – Many City Council incumbents and school board members go unchallenged in elections. Filing fee is only $2.

Area Info / Demographics

1. Keene is the economic hub of southwestern NH.
2. There are plenty of jobs here as well as entrepreneurial opportunities.
3. Big enough to have the amenities and comforts of a city,
4. Small enough to be bikeable/walkable. Keene is the most walkable place in NH according to walkable.org.
5. Population as of 2007 is nearly 23,000 + an estimated 10,000 more who come in during the daytime from the Monadnock region, VT, and MA during the day to work and shop (no sales tax!)
6. Keene is young – the median age is 36.7
7. Keene is mostly female – 52.76%
8. Keene’s residents are mostly single.
9. Cost-of-living in Keene is lower than the national average.
10. Broadband Internet is available via Cable or DSL.
11. Lots of free WiFi.
12. Variety of Living Options – You can choose a more “urban” lifestyle in downtown Keene, opt for the suburbs, or go a little further and you have rural living!
13. Keene is conveniently located in a valley. Snowfall is limited compared to surrounding areas.
14. As it is located in a valley in Southern NH, Keene is not as cold as the northern portions of the state.
15. Great real estate opportunities. Beangroup.com is a useful site to find properties.
16. Keene has over 20 churches and one synagogue. (For the organized religious.)
17. Only 30% of Keene residents identify as religious. (For those who aren’t.)
18. Short drives to bigger metros: 70min drive to Concord, 80min drive to Manchester, About two hours to Boston, About four hours to New York City, About 4.5 hours to Montréal
19. Cheshire Medical Center
20. Private trash pickup services!
21. The Keene area is a stunningly beautiful place to live.

Shopping / Food

1. Downtown Keene – Widest Main Street in America – easy parking!
2. Plenty of locally owned businesses of all varieties.
3. Regional retail chains like Aubuchon’s Hardware.
4. Lots of familiar national chains- Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Staples, Gamestop (2x), Sears Essentials, JCPenney, Bed Bath and Beyond, Michael’s Crafts, JoAnn Fabric, Blockbuster, Petco, Borders Books, & more.
5. Major Auto Dealers
6. Grocery stores include the awesome Price Chopper (24 hour!), Shaws, and Hannaford’s.
7. Blueberry Fields, for natural/organic enthusiasts. Plus, each major grocery store has a large selection of these foods as well.
8. Plenty of pizza, Chinese food, and a variety of other locally owned restaurants!
9. Fast Food – McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Taco Bell, KFC, Subway & more.
10. Regional Food Chains – Friendly’s (2x), The 99, Uno, & more.
11. National Food Chains – Panera Bread (free WiFi), Chili’s, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, & more.
12. Lots of places to get coffee including locally owned coffee houses, Panera Bread, Starbucks (2x), and more!
13. Many local restaurants and chains are open Sundays, and for late-nighters Keith’s Pizza is open until 2am on Sunday and 3am the rest of the week!
14. FedEx Staffed World Service Center
15. UPS Store & the locally owned “Shipping Shack” are available for all your private mailbox needs.
16. 24-hour CVS and other drug stores including Walgreens and Rite Aid in town.
17. National and regional cell phone service providers are available in Keene.
18. National, regional, and local banks all in Keene. You will also find credit unions.

Recreation / Leisure / Education

1. Convenient bike/walking trails all throughout the city!
2. The most hiked mountain in America, Mount Monadnock, is conveniently located near Keene.
3. Multiple parks, with several sports options.
4. The region has many sports teams including the Swamp Bats and a full complement of youth, high school, college and recreational level teams.
5. Granite Gorge- skiing, snowboarding, tubing and more just 5 miles from downtown Keene! Want bigger mountains? Pat’s Peak, Crotchett, and Sunapee are a short trip away.
6. The Ashuelot River
7. Whether it’s fishing, boating, paddling or swimming, the region has more than 200 bodies of water of every size.
8. Workout Options: YMCA, a female-only gym, and a 24-hour men’s gym.
9. Keene Dillant-Hopkins Airport
10. The Keene Cinemas – Major Motion Pictures
11. The Colonial Theatre – Independent Films and Stage Productions
12. Opportunities to make music including the Apple Hill Chamber Players, Keene Pops Choir, and Monadnock Music.
13. Opportunities to listen to various types of music at local venues.
14. Plenty of bars/pubs including the liberty-friendly spot where we hold Social Sundays, “Vendetta”
15. Phat Stuff Smoke Shop is just minutes away in nearby Winchester.
16. “For book lovers, Toadstool Bookshop is awesome! It is very large and well-stocked. Keene also has two used book stores, Eagle Books and Hannah’s Used Books.” – Menno, Early Mover
17. Lots of historical points of interest.
18. Cheshire Fair
19. Pumpkin Festival
20. Keene Music Festival
21. Art Walk (week-long event that puts artists’ works in storefronts)
22. Farmer’s Market that is open twice a week, during three seasons.
23. Shooting ranges in and around Keene and gun shops in the Monadnock region
24. Keene State College is in Keene with other colleges very close by like Antioch New England Graduate School and Franklin Pierce University.
25. There are a number of private schools and other educational opportunities.

Endorsements

Who has chosen Keene, and why? We’re proud to share these endorsements with you:

1. “I moved to Keene in 2004 and really enjoy living here. It has some big city conveniences without the big city size. It’s pretty, the weather is better than the immediately surrounding areas, the power stays on, it’s easy to get around, and we’ve made some really great friends here.” – Varrin Swearingen, President of the Free State Project
2. “I moved to the Keene area because residents were doing fun things and invited me. Now I live here and invite others who love questioning authority, pointing out injustice, committing random acts of charity, and creating public displays of a enthusiasm. Get out here and start having fun!” – Lauren Canario, Superactivist
3. “When selecting a place to base MotorhomeDiaries.com; Keene, New Hampshire – the emerging home of libertarian activism – was the only choice. I’m excited to be part of a community of principled libertarians who reject government violence in favor of a voluntary society.” – Jason Talley, Former President of Bureaucrash
4. “For a long time I’ve admired the work of the Free-Staters, especially those in Keene, who are leading the peaceful evolution toward a voluntary society. I want to use this as the model for my work with the activist network at Fr33Agents.net.” – Pete Eyre, Former President of Bureaucrash
5. “I moved to Keene because it’s a beautiful town. Lots of old buildings, lots of old trees, lots of shopping, all in a small town. Drive five minutes and you are in the country side. Like women? It’s a college town.” – Puke, Early Mover
6. “Keene rocks!” – Julia, Early Mover
7. Keene is absolutely the place to be for frustrated liberty activists (and just so you know, I’ve been at this since 1976) who aren’t run-for-office – oriented, but want to have some effect on the achievement of liberty. Just move NOW, and worry about logistics later–because no matter how soon you move, you’ll wish you had moved sooner! – Richard, Early Mover
8. I decided to move because from the first day that I was there, I felt like I would never be bored. There is a whole community of people from all walks of life that were kind enough to let me be a part of whats happening. – Andrew, Early Mover
9. “Big enough to support a wide variety of businesses yet small enough to maintain its neighborly charm. What more could you want from this little big town nestled in the beautiful valleys of New England?” – Paul Ott, Early Mover
10. “Folks in Keene are friendly and down-to-earth!” – Menno, Early Mover
11. “Keene is a great place to hang out with other liberty activists and have fun storming the castle.” – Russell Kanning, Publisher, NH Free Press
12. More endorsements coming!

7 Comments

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  2. Comment

    May 4, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I think Keene should continue to recruit more activists. Firstly that our ideas are not welcome anywhere, but they are the least disliked in New Hampshire. In Delaware, Ohio any noticable activism would be met with scorn and stiff resistance.

    Secondly, no place is free and rid of the State. Why reduce our chances by weakening our physical network? Right now, Keene activists might just be doing enough to deflect the resistance and still push forward. Once Keene is free and it is actually churning out activists, then the ideas might be an easier sell elsewhere.

    Come join us! You are not obligated to live under an oppressive state your neighbors so zealously support. Immigrating from the United Kingdom to Colonial America for more freedom was not a bad idea then and it is not a bad idea now.

  3. Comment

    May 4, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    The very reason that activists are in short supply is the reason that makes concentration is so vital.

  4. George Donnelly

    May 4, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Don’t delay! Move now! I’m moving this month. :)

  5. sherry

    May 4, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I can no doubt understand your point of view, but for clarification, I look to Keene kind of like a church (of sorts) for activists. It’s great that there’s a place to go where everyone has the same values, but once you are strong enough to teach others, you have got to go out and ‘sit with the sinners.’ Or in the case of activism, get to know and influence those who still don’t understand the power of the individual, the power of the Constitution, or of a people-centered community rather than this ever-pervasive government-centered society. I would challenge the activists of Keene to send out ‘missionaries’ to illuminate their fellow Americans.

    Then again, you either have that calling (to’ go and tell it on the mountain’) or you don’t. Wherever ‘the spirit’ leads you, I commend what the people of Keene, New Hampshire have done. Congratulations…but before you look down on the rest of the country (as we may well deserve) understand that until we are all free, it may be that none of us will be.

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  7. Comment

    May 7, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    “I would challenge the activists of Keene to send out ‘missionaries’ to illuminate their fellow Americans.”

    We are engaging the people of New Hampshire.

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