Back in the summer of 2012 I was contacted by Michael Tubbs (who is a Professor at the University of Texas) about the possibility of being in a new documentary he was going to make about mobile living. He had started to do research on the topic and had come across my website. He had two questions for me, 1) was I interested in being in it myself, and 2) could I put him in contact with other mobile dwellers who he could include in the documentary? Being a total attention whore I jumped at the chance to be in a documentary and quickly agreed! Then I fired off emails to many people I know who I thought would be good in it and gave them his email address. I told them everything I knew and suggested they contact him if they wanted to be included in it. Many, but not all, of the people in the video are those folks who responded.
We made plans for a time after his teaching year ended, and in July he joined us in our camp. He was on a limited budget so he was just driving his little Kia Soul and he only brought one other person, one of his students named Aaron Harlan. They were both just really nice guys and I showed them where they could set up their tent and make themselves comfortable. At that time we were camping in the Sierra National Forest above Fresno, CA and very close to the little mountain town of Shaver Lake, CA. He got his tent all set up and if I remember right they actually stayed for about 3 days and filmed interviews with different people. You would think they would have brought a big pile of pro-level video gear, but the entire documentary was shot with Canon DSLR’s in video mode.
At that time there were nine of us camped there but only three were willing to be interviewed. While they were with us we put on a little barbecue in their honor and in the video you can see me flipping the chicken while they filmed it. I was little concerned about doing a barbecue for a couple of native Texans because they are such connoisseurs of barbecue, but it seemed to pass inspection! After camping with us they left and continued their tour across the Western United States as far north as Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and back to Texas, camping and filming interviews the whole way. As you can see in the documentary, they found some amazing people and got great footage that I think is extremely flattering to our way of life. These aren’t crazy, homeless weirdos, they are typical, healthy, happy Americans who have thoughtfully chosen to live a frugal and mobile lifestyle.
After they left our camp, I don’t believe I heard from him again, but my memory could be wrong. To be honest, I kind-of gave up hope on ever seeing the actual documentary. Then a few days ago I got an email from Micheal explaining that it had taken much longer than he expected, but that it was finally done. He sent me the link and here it is.
As I watched the video, just as you might expect, I loved it! He really seems to get to the heart of our motivation, that we simply want to live a better life, even if it is out of the ordinary. But as I watched it I also knew that there would be negative reactions to it. Let me address them here:
1) I know many of you are opposed to any publicity about our way of life so you probably think this was not a good thing. I understand your point of view and I’m sympathetic toward it. You could easily argue that someone from the BLM or National Forest could see this video and use it as ammunition against us; “See they admit they live in the Forest!” Or, other Americans could see it and be so jealous and angry that we aren’t following the rules and are actually free that they respond with hate and anger. That could happen, and you’re right, it can do us some harm. But I firmly believe it will do us much more good than harm. For every one who reponds with anger, many more will respond with admiration and envy.
Also, there’s no doubt in my mind that there are many millions of Americans who are living lives of drudgery, mediocrity and even misery that need to hear the good news that they can finally be happy by choosing a frugal, simple and mobile life. Many others are still in economic despair after the recession and they desperately need hope and help for their grim economic situation. Offering those many people a better choice is worth the slight risk that some of us may have it tougher.
2) From past experience I know I’m going to hear from some of you that feel attacked and feel like you need to defend your life against the documentaries obvious objections to it. Again, I’m sympathetic to how you feel. It does have the appearance of an attack against a way of life that makes many of you happy. And, to be totally honest it is an attack, I tried to live the way you live and it made me miserable and I only have bad things to say about it. But I’m aware that many of you like it and are happy with it.
I just hope that you can see that by singing the praises of my way of life ,and being honest about why I have rejected your way of life, I don’t mean to judge you personally. If you’re happy, I’m glad for you!! I wasn’t happy and so I made changes that made me happy!!
I hope that you can also understand that although you like you’re “traditional” life, the majority of people trapped in it do not; they detest their lives and if at all possible would change them! The entire purpose of this website is to communicate that there is hope to the millions of Americans who hate their “normal” lives. I hope you can forgive me for my extreme enthusiasm and my joy in spreading the good news of an alternative. Soon I’ll do a post with some of the evidence that shows most of us our totally dissatisfied by our traditional lives and those that like it are the exception and not the rule. Here is a quick overview:
- According to a Gallop poll that has been going on for 12 years and interviewed over 24 million American workers, 70% of Americans dislike or hate their jobs http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/70-u-s-workers-hate-job-poll-article-1.1381297 A full 20% hate their jobs so much they are actively doing everything they can at work to harm their employer. Another 50% dislike their jobs so much they’ve “checked out” and are just doing whatever it takes to not get fired.
- Anti-Depressant prescriptions in the USA are at extraordinary levels, they’ve increased over 400%. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/astounding-increase-in-antidepressant-use-by-americans-201110203624 Why are we so depressed?
- The rate of suicide in the industrial world is drastically higher than the third world. Why do so many of us kill ourselves when we seemingly have everything?
- The American Dream is destroying the eco-system we depend on for life. We’re making such a mess of it that going to leave our great-great-grand-children in miser;, but as long as we have our iPads and luxuries, we’re perfectly fine with that.
Unhappiness with the American Dream is at epidemic levels, and I believe I have a solution. You’re just going to have to forgive me my devotion to my message.
Whether for good or bad, the documentary is here, I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did!