Tag Archive | Radical Hospitality

Becoming a Digital Nomad

When i was growing up, one of the most transformative adventures one could take was walking off the land you knew with a small bag and a daring attitude and sticking out you thumb and hitchhiking away.  This is still true, except the clever traveler will add to their small bag an internet connected device.

There is a growing knowledge base of digital nomads and the first and perhaps most important piece is hitchwiki.org.  If you have ever hitched much you know there are places that are hard to get through, good spots where drivers are likely to pick you up and routes to avoid.  The problem is that regular maps and guidebook almost never tell you where these places are.

Did you know there are dramatically different laws on hitching, state by state - source hitchwiki

Did you know there are dramatically different laws on hitching, state by state – source hitchwiki

Hitchwiki tells you not only what the laws are in different regions but also what the local customs are and how to best catch a ride.  It also has user edited maps of the roadway system, including stories and advice for how to have a successful journey.  Knowing the hitching culture and hot spots dramatically increases your chances of getting where you are going.

But what if you don’t know where you are going?  What if your adventure is not highly scripted and you are looking for like minded people who might put you up, without asking you for money?  Many people have heard about couchsurfing, but there is a better radical hospitality system called BeWelcome.org.  It is better because the people who are involved in it are more interested in connecting with travelers in a meaningful way and less about being party tourists.  While BeWelcome is far sparser than couchsurfing, it is designed to accommodate hitchhikers and it makes sense to populate this democratic and transparent site with new people, rather than continue with the for profit beast.


It is also worth pointing out that the software developers who created BeWelcome built much of the Couchsurfing site, before leaving the WalMart of peer to peer hospitality for ideological reasons.

But lets say you have no money and want to eat.  Enter TrashWiki.  Another site which has content contributed by many users, it is dedicated to finding food and other valuable things which have been thrown out.  In some cases this is where the good dumpster are.  In other cases it is where pre-dumpster things can be found or where you can find dumpster diving partners.  Better than OK Cupid if this is your area of interest and you are looking for a match.

Digital nomadism is about using the power of the internet to take a step away from conventional lifestyles and instead trust strangers, rescue waste and see new parts of the world.

Radical Hospitality

Casa Robino is closing its doors.  This is heartbreaking and surprising for me, despite the fact that no reasonable person could suspect this type of anti-gravity project would go on indefinitely.  It was an area i was not willing to be reasonable in.  Casa was some of the best we could be: wildly dynamic, anarchist self reliance in its fluffiest funnest form, exotic interesting people always coming thru.  The doors were open.

Our doors are open to people who figure out what the keys look like.  Usually, you have to come thru the email front door – by arranging either the “3 hour tour”  on Saturday [queue Gilligan’s Island] or our three week visitor program.  In other words, we don’t accept “drop ins”.  So when these two charming, but ill timed, Dutch gals showed up at Emerald City – Hawina turned to Puck and said “Should we call the ‘drop in’ manager?”

These are not Aukje and Erika from Holland

Which of course is me.  I come up and they are apologetic about not telling us they are coming.  i was supposed to oil and bevel stretchers – but i decide to take time off and play with these new fun people.  I take them for a tour, we even zip over to Rob Jones for a quick hot tub.  And i arrange for them to go to Acorn.  Because my commune is not comfortable with drop ins, if the drop ins are wonderful enough not to be ejected out of hand (which some are), then i try to place them at other places.  This time it was Acorn.

I went over to Acorn and Aukje and Erika had blended right in.  They had worked, they had played, they had made friends, there was definitely some flirting going on – it was sweet.  And i wished my home could be more welcoming to strangers.  And i totally understand why many Oakers are not happy with that idea.  Or at least may enough so the culture does not change.

Of course the different communities hospitality cultures determine what number of little known people you have in your midst.  At Casa Robino, if you just knew that the place existed, you could stay, often for a long time and “pay” nothing, tho almost everyone volunteered for something.  It was doing it’s part to support the idea of digital nomadism.   Similarly, at Little Flower an open door policy has been critical to their evolution.

One of my favorite stories is about what happened to Little Flower after 9/11.  The FBI came to visit, having not found Osama bin Laden int he White Pages, decided to take the War on Terror to who ever they wanted to intimidate.  Early on the list was the radical protesters from Little Flower.  The FBI came to tell them that this pouring blood on the Pentagon and the like (which they had been doing for years and doing jail time for) was going to stop, because the FBI had extraordinary powers now.

Little Flower was having none of this.

The FBI dissatisfied with their lack of cowering went to their landlord (who had been very supportive before) and threatened them, saying that if these terrorists did anything, the landlord could be implicated and the property seized.  Which is neither true nor legal, but my son does not get his distrust of authority from nothing.   The landlord told them he could not deal with the threats and they had to go.

They started looking for places to live instead, but this time they wanted to buy.  They found the prefect place not far from Travilians.  Just one hitch, it cost $100K and they had exactly $0K

They also had a young couple who had stopped the night before on a long bike trip.  Enchanted by the catholic Worker mission, when Bill explained to Sue that they needed this money, but did not have a source.  The guy from the biking couple said

i just inherited $100K, i could give it to you

And he did.  He had known them for less than 24 hours.  And now Little Flower has a beautiful place, because they were willing to take chances with drop ins.

My favorite door sign was on the place we lived in Santa Cruz, many years ago now.  It read:

Dont Knock! – If you are friend of the family, just come in.  If you are an agent of the state, just go away.