She traveled the world as the daughter of diplomats and went on to practice law in South Africa and California, but Carla Gericke's life changed when she heard the call of the Free State Movement for like-minded people to flock to N.H. and promote greater liberty and less government. She helped organize two recent Porcupine Festivals - the Free State equivalent of an Old Home Day - even earning the title "The Quill Queen" (note quill crown, left), and was just chosen as the movement's new leader. In this exclusive interview, we found her not to be at all prickly.How does one become the leader of the Free State Movement? Are fisticuffs involved? Duel at dawn, actually. I'm afraid the truth is rather more mundane: the Free State Project's board votes on candidates and someone wins.What do you think is your primary qualification for the post? My royal lineage, replete with quill crown. The porcupine is our mascot - porcupines are peaceful creatures you want to leave alone - and after I organized the last two Porcupine Freedom Festivals in Lancaster, I received the moniker of "Queen Quill." As the first queen of the movement, I was the perfect candidate to take over. More seriously, in a decentralized organization like ours, you have to be able to balance folks' differing viewpoints and strong personalities, fondly referred to as "herding cats." Iz good catz herder.Since the Free State movement is not political, does that mean you always get to give straight answers? Er, em, uh, yes.So give it to me straight. How's the movement going? This is an exciting time for us. We have crossed the halfway mark to recruiting 20,000 liberty lovers to pledge to move to New Hampshire to create a more free society. I appreciate this sounds scary to some, but think of us as localization on steroids, as wanting to create an even more prosperous state than New Hampshire already is--a Yankee Hong Kong, if you will. More than 800 activists have already moved, and we are hard at work in our communities to create a society based on voluntary exchange, free from state coercion. As government grows and becomes more intrusive, I believe we will continue to gain momentum. We also have strong local support, with Friends of the Free State signing up all the time.Any particular high and low points over the past few years? As an organization, the Free State Project does not take positions on what participants do once they get here. It's more the vehicle, the "bus" to convince liberty-leaning individuals to move. Once in New Hampshire, people exercise individual activism in different ways. They run for office--twelve participants are now state reps--they do localized outreach like volunteering at fire departments, they form non-profits like the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance that rates representatives according to their voting records, they manage successful businesses, and they practice civil disobedience in the spirit of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. The media tends to focus on the latter because it is by its very nature more controversial, but rest assured Free Staters are good neighbors who like ice-cream too. Any second thoughts about choosing New Hampshire as the Free State? Absolutely not. I have lived all over the world, and I love it here. New Hampshire has so much to offer: a ready-built individualist culture--Live Free or Die, Baby!--and it is consistently named one of the best places in America to live. With its low crime rate, favorable gun laws, healthy living, buoyant economy, low taxes and no personal state income tax (which I view as a form of slavery), it is the perfect place for productive people to settleSeems like the Free State Movement could use an anthem. Is there a song that you always play at rallies? We've played the Super Secret Project's "Granite State of Mind" at functions and it always goes over well. How can you not love lyrics like: "I'm the new Salinger/Cuz I could live anywhere/But I choose to live here." This really resonates with me.You have a literary bent. Who are your favorite liberty-minded authors? I admire many - Kurt Vonnegut, Robert A. Heinlein, Joseph Heller, P.J. O'Rourke - but from a purely dystopian standpoint, it's a toss up between George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. With the amount of government intrusion people have to tolerate these days, someone should write a Facebook app where you can tag news stories according to whether you think it is more "1984," or more "Brave New World." Perhaps this will help Jane Six-Pack realize it is not a left/right paradigm, but rather a case of us vs. them.At this stage, would the movement be more suitable for a film treatment or for a reality TV show? We already have a movie, a documentary called "Libertopia" which follows three participants on their "modern day pilgrimage" to "reclaim a voice against a government they believe shares neither their priorities nor interests," so I'd have to say a reality TV show. Can we get Darren Aronofsky to direct?If you could lure one A-list celebrity to the cause, who would you pick? Folks like Clint Eastwood, Dave Barry, Denis Leary, Penn & Teller, Trey Parker of South Park, Kurt Russell, Drew Carey, and "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon are already libertarians, and we'd welcome them all... but hold the Charlie Sheen!
This article appears in the May 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine