It’s Snowden in New Hampshire

Liberty Forum 2016Manchester – Preparations are underway for the ninth annual New Hampshire Liberty Forum.  The conference will once again take place at the Manchester Radisson, the largest convention hotel in the state. It will run Thursday, Feb. 18 through Sunday Feb. 21, 2016.

Edward Snowden to headline

This year’s keynote speaker is the internationally renowned/infamous (depending on perspective) whistleblower Edward Snowden. He will join via live video conference from his political exile in Russia.  In 2013, Snowden left his job as an NSA contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton, fled to Hong Kong, and then released thousands of classified government documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewen Macaskill. Those documents revealed numerous global surveillance programs. Snowden is considered a criminal and a traitor by the U.S. government and political conservatives.  He is a hero to many liberty lovers for the personal risk and sacrifices he has made to inform the world of the authoritarian and unconstitutional actions of the U.S. and British governments.

Getting Snowden to participate was quite a coup. It was the result of two years of effort on the part of Free State Project (FSP) organizers.  While Snowden has given interviews to major news outlets around the world, he has participated in very few conferences since he fled the country.

Other featured speakers this year include William Ruger, vice president for research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute and the vice president for research at the Charles Koch Foundation; Nadine Strossen, former President of the American Civil Liberties Union;  Alexander McKobin, cofounder and President of Students for Liberty; and anarchocapitalist writer Walter Block.  Dozens of other speakers and panelists will address topics as varied as your rights when dealing with police; Ross Ulbricht’s appeal and why it’s important to us all; libraries, the front lines in the fight for digital freedom; and human rights for sex workers. The conference will also include panel discussions, family-oriented activities, an exhibition hall, numerous organized lunches with key New Hampshire activists, and guided tours of the historic Manchester Millyard and the Concord State House.

Liberty in Action Awards

A new event this year is the Liberty in Action Awards. This red carpet gala will take place Saturday evening.  Awards will be given in the following categories:

•    Community Building – for those who exemplify the libertarian traditions of community building, mutual aid, and/or charity
•    Entrepreneurship and Innovation – for those who demonstrate the value of free markets and innovation
•    Spreading the Message – for producing pro-liberty communications in any medium
•    In System Activism – for those who work within the system to best expand liberties in New Hampshire. This could be a legislator or someone involved with the legislative process in another way
•    Out of System Activism – for those who demonstrate the value of non-violent civil disobedience and liberty activism
•    Significant Contributions – for volunteers who are omnipresent at events and/or ever-present through their actions
•    Lifetime Achievement – for those who have consistently made significant contributions in New Hampshire over their lifetime

The initial selection of award candidates was determined via online submissions in late December.  Both FSP participants and New Hampshire natives were nominated. FSP President Carla Gericke and FSP founder Jason Sorens removed themselves as nominees. They also added a few nominees for consideration. Those initial candidates were then narrowed down to a group of finalists via another round of online voting, which was open through Jan. 13, 2016.  The winners will be announced at the awards dinner. The ceremonies will be MC’ed by Andre Rosa of Drag Queens and Covered Bridges of New Hampshire fame. It will feature a catered dinner and live musical numbers.  The evening will wrap up with DJ music and dancing.

The Liberty in Action Awards will be an ongoing event, beyond when the Free State Project achieves its mission.  That mission, to recruit 20,000 liberty-loving people to move to New Hampshire, is quite close to a watershed moment: when 20,000 people have signed the Statement of Intent.  The rate of signups has greatly accelerated in recent weeks. This is attributed to a large fundraising effort and targeted Facebook advertising.  The FSP has just under 500 signers to go to reach its target.  At that time, dubbed “Trigger the Move”, the countdown begins for the 20,000 participants to fulfill their pledge to relocate to New Hampshire within five years.

Tickets to the conference are available online.

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