Want to talk to me for a VICE article? (1 Viewer)

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Hi everyone,

I'm a freelance journalist working on an article for VICE about people living in U.S. National Forests, both by choice or because of hardship. It's a follow-up of sorts to an article I wrote about the housing shortage in my hometown, Jackson Hole (can't link to it because I'm a noob and can't link in my first post.)

If you've lived in a National Forest and would be willing to share your story with me, reply here or feel free to email me: [email protected]. I'm interested in where you lived, what your living conditions were like, and what kind of interactions you had with Forest Service staff/law enforcement.
 
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Tude

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Welcome @Garnet Henderson - we have people try and connect with our members for different things - photos - documentaries - sometimes they do, sometimes not - but let me see if I can't connect you to one or more people who may decide to talk with you. The best one I know has been living in a Nat'l forest in AZ for a while now and getting ready to head out. So maybe you might meet @Kal ... he right now is in Flagstaff till next week so he has wifi at the library for an hour. I will contact him on facebook as well.
 
Last edited:
OP
Garnet Henderson
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Welcome @Garnet Henderson - we have people try and connect with our members for different things - photos - documentaries - sometimes they do, sometimes not - but let me see if I can't connect you to one or more people who may decide to talk with you. The best one I know has been living in a Nat'l forest in AZ for a while now and getting ready to head out. So maybe you might meet @Kal ... he right now is in Flagstaff till next week so he has wifi at the library for an hour. I will contact him on facebook as well.
Thank you!
 
OP
Garnet Henderson
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I would be willing to do it. What do you want to know?
I mostly want to hear about your experience, where you lived, what your living conditions were (tent, car, etc), and if you had interactions with law enforcement. If you can't email me I could post questions for you here if you don't mind answering publicly. Unless there is a better way for me to contact you directly?
 
OP
Garnet Henderson
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I've also expanded the scope of my article a bit, so I'm happy to talk with anyone who's lived on public land. How did you choose your spot? Did you mostly go unnoticed or did you encounter law enforcement? On BLM and National Forest land camping is usually legal for a max of 14 days (except in some areas where it's less, like 5 days) – do you think everyone should have the right to stay as long as they want on public land?
 
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This article sounds interesting, I look forward to getting to read it some day.
I don;t know about US national forests but there was a group of people calling themselves the Diggers living in an eco-village on public land in the UK. They ended up getting evicted by the police in brutal fashion - I think one lady lost a finger int he scuffle - but while it lasted it was a pretty blessed place. If you're interested in stuff like this outside of the US I can try and get in contact with some of them, but I can't make any promises as they are now scattered to the four winds.
Good luck with it all!
 

Matt Derrick

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That totally counts! Would you be willing to tell me a bit more about it?
Sure! I had gotten a job though coolworks.com working for Yellowstone National Park in 2010, and once the snow stopped falling (about the end of june) i took my bus out to a nearby plot of BLM land and just started living there since it was cheaper than paying rent. I was lucky enough to have a full size school bus that I was converting into an RV at the time, so it just made sense.

I loved living on BLM land, since that's really one of the big reasons I got a school bus in the first place, to do things like go camping in the wilderness. The moving around every 14 days never bothered me because at the very least it was a good excuse to go see something different around the area.

At one point I ended up camping along a lake and waking up to this view each morning:

header975%C3%97200-png.28939


...and that's another friend of mine with a short bus (on the left) doing the same thing.

Camping on BLM land is pretty popular in the van dwelling culture for obvious reasons, and many have their setups particularly geared for living off grid (solar panels, water storage, etc). I always camped in more remote, 'primitive' campsites, so I never once saw a police officer, although I would get checked on by forest service people on rare occasions; even then they were always really nice people and were just stopping by to make sure we weren't trashing the place and to remind us of the camping rules in that area.

When it comes to the question of whether BLM land stays should be longer than 14 days... I think 14 days is pretty generous. In a world where most laws seem to only exist to tax us, protect the rich, or protect us from ourselves, the 14 day rule feels pretty sane and I feel like it's built to protect these wild lands so they're there for everyone to enjoy.

Besides, in Montana at least, all you had to do was move at least a thousand yards, so it really wasn't a big deal most of the time. I think that helps keep people from squatting forever and trashing the place. my favorite thing about living out there in my bus was that as long as i was responsible (i.e. pack out any trash i brought in) no one ever bothered me and i didn't feel like i was going to be labeled a criminal for not living in an apartment/house.
 
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Garnet Henderson
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Sure! I had gotten a job though coolworks.com working for Yellowstone National Park in 2010, and once the snow stopped falling (about the end of june) i took my bus out to a nearby plot of BLM land and just started living there since it was cheaper than paying rent. I was lucky enough to have a full size school bus that I was converting into an RV at the time, so it just made sense.

I loved living on BLM land, since that's really one of the big reasons I got a school bus in the first place, to do things like go camping in the wilderness. The moving around every 14 days never bothered me because at the very least it was a good excuse to go see something different around the area.

At one point I ended up camping along a lake and waking up to this view each morning:

View attachment 28939

...and that's another friend of mine with a short bus (on the left) doing the same thing.

Camping on BLM land is pretty popular in the van dwelling culture for obvious reasons, and many have their setups particularly geared for living off grid (solar panels, water storage, etc). I always camped in more remote, 'primitive' campsites, so I never once saw a police officer, although I would get checked on by forest service people on rare occasions; even then they were always really nice people and were just stopping by to make sure we weren't trashing the place and to remind us of the camping rules in that area.

When it comes to the question of whether BLM land stays should be longer than 14 days... I think 14 days is pretty generous. In a world where most laws seem to only exist to tax us, protect the rich, or protect us from ourselves, the 14 day rule feels pretty sane and I feel like it's built to protect these wild lands so they're there for everyone to enjoy.

Besides, in Montana at least, all you had to do was move at least a thousand yards, so it really wasn't a big deal most of the time. I think that helps keep people from squatting forever and trashing the place. my favorite thing about living out there in my bus was that as long as i was responsible (i.e. pack out any trash i brought in) no one ever bothered me and i didn't feel like i was going to be labeled a criminal for not living in an apartment/house.
Awesome. Ok if I quote you using your name?
 
OP
Garnet Henderson
Joined
Feb 16, 2016
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New York
Thank you to everyone who replied here or emailed me! Have to turn my story in by Monday, so here's my last call: If you have a story to share about living on National Forest or BLM land, post here or email me at [email protected] by Sunday!
 

Jet Jaguar

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Feb 17, 2016
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On a some-what related topic, what the hell happened to Vice? I stopped paying attention when Gavin left but I heard they were bought out by (or at least partially paid out) Rupert Murdoch or some non-sense.
 

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