Off the keyboard of William Hunter Duncan
First published May 17, 2013 @ Off the Grid in Minneapolis
Discuss this article in the Eustace Conway thread in the Forum
I’ve railed repeatedly in this blog, against the perceived tyranny of government. Twice the city has tried to condemn my house, once for not having the water turned on, once for not having the electricity hooked up. I have endured threats of confiscation, I have been fined thousands of dollars, this house has been labelled by the city as an official nuisance: the latest, a $472 fee for the removal of that white pine I had dropped in my driveway.
I had complied with the order to move them, distributing them around the garden, but the city hired contractors to come and take five of them away, and then charged me for it, as much as I make working two weeks @ big retail outlet. A week later, a guy shows up at my door and says, ‘hey, I’ve been looking at the those logs in your front lawn and I was wondering if I could carve those with my chainsaw [for free].
But my troubles are as nothing, compared to what Eustace Conway has gone through. Eustace is something of a famous case, a force of nature best described by Elizabeth Gilbert (before her phenomenally popular Eat, Pray, Love), in her book titled The Last American Man. Among those exploits of Eustace Conway chronicled there and elsewhere: being self-trained in the art of wilderness survival from a young age; the riding of a horse across America (twice); the walking of the entire Appalachian trail; the teaching of wilderness skills all across the south, compiling enough money to purchase 1000 acres of remote Appalachia, Watauga County, North Carolina; building there according to traditional methods, 20 buildings, and establishing a school on building in traditional ways, gardening, and wilderness skills, calling it Turtle Island Preserve. He’s also been on the History Channel, on Mountain Men, (detailing some previous legal troubles, a property lien, people attempting to take the land.)
When I first heard about his recent troubles, I assumed he merely received a letter in the mail, it was all just a bureaucratic snafu, government gears grinding. Here is what actually happened, according to the staff of Turtle Island Preserve:
Recently, local county government authorities have targeted Turtle
Island Preserve, attacking our way of life, and forcing our educational
camp to close to visitors.
(being paid by tax payers) barged into our living room unannounced,
uninvited, and unwelcome. A large caravan of county vehicles blocked our
private road, miles away from any public area. The men (some armed)
presented a search warrant two and half miles into the interior of our
private land, a most intimate zone of refuge where we do not even take
visitors, and then spent the next half of the day violating our privacy
and photographing our buildings and personal homes. The unwanted
invasion team came prepared with topographic maps, aerial photographs,
GPS equipment to discern coordinates, laptops, pages of highlighted
photographs of unknown origins, and even a county 4-wheeler to more
easily get around the property. Much time and tax-payer money had
clearly been spent preparing for this deployment against our 501c3
non-profit education center.
If you look at Watauga County on the map, it’s hard to imagine what all the fuss is about. This is remote Appalachia. Then I read this, from the Watauga County website:
Public Hearing Notice – Potential Abolishment of the Board of Social Services
THE WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS WILL HOLD A PUBLIC HEARING AT
6:00 P.M. ON TUESDAY, MAY 21, 2013, IN THE COMMISSIONERS’ BOARD ROOM OF
THE WATAUGA COUNTY ADMINISTRATION BUILDING LOCATED AT 814 WEST KING
STREET, BOONE, NORTH CAROLINA. THE PURPOSE OF THE HEARING SHALL BE TO ALLOW PUBLIC COMMENT ON THE POTENTIAL ABOLISHMENT OF THE WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF SOCIAL SERVICES. INTERESTED PARTIES ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND. FOR INFORMATION OR QUESTIONS, PLEASE CALL (828) 265-8000.
And then I realized, Watauga County population equals 163 persons/sq. mile, which is three times the density of the rural Midwestern county I grew up in, just as white but with a full quarter+ of the population living below the poverty line; (whereas one-tenth+ where I grew up.) And then one begins to wonder about revenue, County finances, and that thousand acres just isn’t generating enough revenue apparently, by county standards, we need to generate more so we can abolish social services (?!); So if we can take Turtle Island Preserve, divy it up between developers, who will build according to code to generate more tax revenue? At the very least, force Turtle Island Preserve to spend $200,000-$300,000, to meet code, call that stimulating the economy. One has to wonder also, what those “county officials” were really looking for, with all those topo maps and guns and full-property search warrants? One cannabis plant would speed up the confiscation process right quick. But just as well, tax and fine and adjudicate Turtle Island Preserve out of existence.
Which if this is code,
but this isn’t
Then one wonders what is really behind the drive toward International code adherence. Agenda 21 comes to mind, to excite every right wing absolutist Christian survivalist/prepper/Patriot/Tea Partier; but then, Eustace wears his hair like some hippy savage and he lives too much like an Indian; and so Eustace finds himself without a constituency, liberals otherwise being so in love with liberal government, and just as cornucopian as the right-wing nut, as if code were the Word of God; meanwhile the gears of government grind infinitely fine, the petty stuff of petty tyranny, as mundane as can be. As a former builder (officially), I’m inclined to think that most building code is just that, official forced adherence to a uniform and obsolete building paradigm, which also happens to be a particular screw to drive a particular kind of economic activity, the more exploitative the better, grossly energy wasting to boot (speaking of a boot on the face of humanity forever.) Dimitri Orlov is even more dubious than I am. Which Eustace is reminding us, there is an extraordinary beauty in living in rhythm with the earth, and I suppose they hate him for it.
Meanwhile the County of Watauga practices intransigence, the proverbial waiting game, letting the wheels grind on, it is progress, code must be followed. Maybe they merely want to take Turtle Preserve, turn it into a theme park, hire college kids to wear costumes; but no one actually gets to live there long term, whatever food is grown there is just for show, all proceeds flow to the County, and every body will shit and piss in flush toilets! Another roadside attraction for happy motoring unto eternity. Or burn down the buildings and turn all thousand acres into a 4-wheeler race track. How’s that for earth spirit, motherfucker? Hippy faggot.
Whereas, I’m more like, Turtle Island Preserve is about the past, and the future; and about how to live in the present, meaningfully. The loss of that as a model would be, to use a particular phrase of those maniac globalist code enforcers, a crime against humanity. Turtle Island Preserve is about treating the earth with reverence. Watauga County, contrary to the name Watauga, “translations ranging from beautiful water, whispering waters, village of many springs, and river of islands,” contrary to that most favored of American ideals, the home of the free and the brave, showing what a stupid, abusive, humorless, domineering nation of lawz we have become.
So if you have any particular concern for saving what remains of the beauty and abundance of this earth, before governments and corporations conspire together to grind it into uniformity, every square inch of this beautiful earth, I encourage you to follow the progress of Turtle Island Preserve, and share whatever, however you can. Have a say.
After some reflection, it is no longer clear what is going on @ Turtle Island Preserve. They have a website, but they do not return emails, at least not mine. There is no mention whatever on their website, about the problems with the county. There is even word second-hand that Watauga County is working diligently on changing the code, to accommodate Turtle Island Preserve. I wrote this piece in response to a blog-a-thon on the Doomstead Diner, in support of Turtle Island Preserve. There are 10 pages or more of commentary in the forum.
What is most striking about that commentary, is the intense critique of Eustace Conway’s media presence and economics, with almost no reflection on government overreach, threatened confiscation, threatened economic dissolution. Indeed, some there acted as if government code is as inevitable as God, and so treated Eustace as a kind of Heretic, some with an almost glee-like attitude, in the idea that he might lose that 1000 acres to gov predation.
Which brings me back to my latest confrontation with the City of Minneapolis. They charged me $472, or two weeks pay, to remove those white pine logs in my driveway. I wrote a letter, detailing my objections, and the history of abuse I have received here from the City. I was granted a hearing @ City Hall. A lawyer named Jack was the arbitrator (traitor).
Which hearing was a joke. There is nothing I could have said to change the outcome. Jack did not ask me one meaningful question, before he told me I’d have to wait two weeks for a decision. He signed the decision THAT DAY (but could not tell me the decision to my face): TO BE PAID IN FULL. I can contest it again, in District Court, which I would expect to be an even more grotesque formality. I’ve no doubt Jack was paid more by the City to spend that hour or two formalizing for the City it’s decisions, against myself and whoever else showed up that day, than I make in two weeks. Based on what I saw, I doubt Jack has EVER decreed on behalf of the prey. Which I take him to be part of the predator class, mining poor saps like me for whatever they can, to maintain and perpetually improve their standard of living.
Meanwhile I continue to work as hard as I have ever worked, for less and less money. I was declined an interview again, to work as a Garden Coordinator for a local non-profit, though the person who referred me knows someone inside, and the man I applied with, interned and worked for one of their farming Heroes. It seems the only work I can get these days is to do the heavy lifting, grunt/dirty work for major corporations, for paupers wages. The fact that I make less and less money every year, has no bearing of course on what I am expected to pay to live, which continues to climb just as relentlessly.
In fact I just rode my bike to work and back on my day off to pick up my pay check, which I was told yesterday would be there today, but was not there because next Friday is pay day. So I guess I was just hoping, and believed what I was told, out of desperation, seeing as I have been broke for several days, my website address expired, my phone is about to expire and so is my internet. Got to finish this blog post before the lights go out (I owe the Electric co. bookoo bucks too.) Every centavo of that check when it does arrive is called for, and then some. On top of that, the IRS is after me now, because I didn’t file a 2011 return, because I didn’t make sufficient money to surpass the grotesquely low poverty line of $11,484 (consider 2000 hours (Full Time) @ federal minimum wage = $14,500. A living wage in Minneapolis is considered $22,000. Which shows what these scumbag legislators really think about their constituency.) Meanwhile I hear Amazon.com paid less in UK corporate taxes than they received in government grants in 2012. Don’t imagine that is much different here in the good ol’ USofA. One fine day recently at uber Garden Center we sold $94,000 dollars of merchandise, during which time I made about $60 after taxes, lifting and moving about 20 tons of material in 40-60lbs increments, etc.
So you see, the predators of the world are growing increasingly ravenous, while the prey gets blamed for getting eaten. And the only thing that matters apparently, for the typical predator AND prey, is that BAU ravaging of the earth continues unabated. With groundwater rushing into the busted Fukushima reactors, and serious talk now about pouring that ceaseless flow of radiation-laden water into the sea, because that is better apparently than storing it in visible caskets above ground; that there is nothing they can do about it, even though the global economy is humming along more or less, and there are another 400 such facilities world-wide, and resource constraints pretty much guarantee a global financial collapse, and the whole world yawns as every body in a gate kept profession and otherwise, stares into their smart phone oblivion, it’s pretty much guaranteed that…
So, whatever. I don’t want your money. I am content to starve. I am content knowing I have spoken clearly, that I have not lied to you, that I have not told you a bullshit story to maintain my standard of living. That I have not made a practice of mining people for money.
What stings though is that I have been declared by the City of Minneapolis an official “nuisance.” Because I do things like transform this:
And when I tell people about my troubles, they just laugh. Or they are appalled, and then treat it like any story they consume, as of no consequence. When I know, my fate will be the fate of all.
So I continue to dance and sing through life, reducing my philos to this: to be good and kind to people, and to watch out for them. Even if the people of Minneapolis allow this:
to be turned into this: