5 Offbeat Communities: Micronationalists, Mildly Offensive Fiber Artists and More



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What do our readers care about? Some like to construct characters and recreate imaginary worlds, while others like to crochet mildly offensive sayings onto a quilt.


Dec. 13, 2017

From Reddit chats to Facebook groups, people are finding common passions across borders, languages and nationalities. We are hiring reporters who can shed light on these underground communities that have taken root in our digital age. But first, we asked our readers what kinds of subcultures they belong to, and what they think is worth covering. Below are edited excerpts from interviews with them.

Community: Larp-ers (Live Action Role Playing)

Name: Maya Lee Ziv, Camp Counselor at Wayfinder Experience and Director of Technology at Event Horizon

Larpers participating in an event by Event Horizon, a company that organizes larp games.CreditSarah Lynne Bowman

Who are you?
I am a part of a community of live action role players or Larp-ers. We construct characters and worlds that we think are interesting and that we want to imagine that we’re a part of. We dress up in costumes, and we get props or a set. We basically all pretend that we’re these characters for a set amount of time and tell stories with them. So we interact with each other as though we’re all these characters in this world. The Wayfinder Experience is one specific Live Action Role summer camp that happens on the East Coast.

What brings you together?
The Larp community is very unified by acceptance and by inclusion. I think it’s tricky because it was born out of nerdiness. So there is a tendency within the nerd culture to be somewhat focused on who knows the most or who’s the best nerd. But there’s been a huge push recently to make it very inclusive and make it a space where everyone is welcome.

Who joins?
The types of people that it attracts are people who are often sort of vaguely different than their peers or who maybe feel excluded.

How do you communicate?
There’s a couple of really prominent Facebook groups where a lot of Larp-ers are engaged with each other. And then also I think the network is still small enough that pretty much everybody knows somebody else, who knows somebody else, that you can be connected to a lot of people just by word of mouth and introductions. I know I’ve met a lot of my good friends just by being secondhand introduced to them.

Community: Micronationalists

Name: Daniel Bellerose, citizen of Asgardia and Ladonia

Who are you?
Micronationalists are part of a micronation, which is a small area that someone has declared an independent nation, which is not internationally recognized. It can be anything from a space created by an environmentalist who’s trying to promote environmental issues in Antarctica to just a teenager who wants to declare his bedroom as independent. The community is not just people that start their own micronation but it’s also people who become citizens of micronations.

The famous historical example of a micronation is Sealand. It is a naval base in the ocean that was abandoned and this guy found it in the 1960s, claimed it to be his own country and declared himself a King of Sealand. The definition has kind of expanded since the internet. So, as well as, there being sort of geographical areas that people claim to be their own, there are now micronations that represent an ideal, which don’t even have a set physical boundary. For instance Asgardia is called the space nation, and they represent the needs of space and common humanity. They don’t have a geographical area but they do have a satellite, that they claim to be kind of their territory.

I’m a citizen of Asgardia. I am also a citizen of Ladonia, which is another micronation in Sweden.

Why does one join?
I think the concept of a micronation, however legitimate it is, can represent something greater. Asgardia represents a larger unity that people on the whole planet can have together and the concept of being kind of a global citizen, which I think is really appealing. Ladonia represents individual artistic freedom. The founder of Ladonia was an artist who made an installation on the beach in Sweden. The government asked him to take the installation down and he declared it independent and they had to protect his art. So I kind of like the idea of using the micronational community as a place to promote certain ideals and to use it as a platform.

How do you communicate?
Facebook chat groups.

What are common values?
Mutual interests of almost everyone in the micronational community is independence and freedom.

Community: Mildly Offensive Fiber Artists

Name: Nicole Goetz, Founder

Who are you?
We are people who create things made out of fibers: yarn, fabric, string, knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting etc. that are subversive or mildly offensive. We say, “We aren’t necessarily your grandma’s crafting group but if your grandma laughs at quilted genitals then maybe this is for her.”

Why does one join?
A lot of people, myself included, use fiber as therapy. We have people who are agoraphobic, people who are afraid of leaving their house. We have a lot of people who deal with depression and anxiety. We have a lot of L.G.B.T.Q. people. They’ve found a community here.

We share things that we’ve made, which our heart, soul and blood, sweat and tears are poured into, and when we share it with people out of the community they’re like, “Oh well, it’s cute that you have a hobby.” That is really discouraging. Then we’ll share it with people in the group, and it is therapeutic to hear the mutual positivity about something that you put all your emotion into.

How do you communicate?
Basically only Facebook or Facebook group chats. I’ve never been so lucky to actually meet anybody in person yet, which is which is really funny to me because I did start the group. But I also live in a small town, there’s 7,000 people that live here. Some of my best friends are in this group and I’ve actually never met them in person.

Tall shippers sailing a large vessel. CreditShannon Dunfey-Ball

Community: Tall Shippers

Name: Shannon Dunfey-Ball, instructor

Who are you?
Shippers are an international group of people who sail large vessels, mostly historic and wooden ships. They can be anything from boats over like 500 feet, like a huge pirate ships, to smaller boats like 100 feet in length. Tall shipping is sort of a dying trade because not many people are really trained in like traditional rigging. We’re a tight and close community because there’s just really not that many people on the Earth who sail boats like the ones you see on “Pirates Of The Caribbean.”

Why does one join?
We got a lot of people who have kindred spirits, maybe old souls because there’s just so much history in exploration and the ocean. Like when we go out, we can now pinpoint exactly where we are in the globe with satellites, but when you’re out of sight of land, it’s really amazing just to think about the first explorers. I think we have a different appreciation for history because we chose to live in the history rather than just appreciate it.

What are common values?
A common trait in our community is that we are definitely counterculture people. They’re not your run of the mill. They’re not looking for the normal, they’re looking for adventure; they’re looking for a challenge. You’re also looking for community.

It takes a crew of at least 12 to some boats have like 100 people onboard. And it takes every single person to get that boat from point A to point B. Tall shippers differ from other sailors because we tend to be a little bit dirtier since we won’t have all the finer things that you might have on a yacht, like a shower. If the boat is over 100 years old, you might not have that luxury. You’re not going to have down bedding, you’re probably even sleeping in hammocks.

Community: Camp Redaroo

Name: Steph FigPope, member

Who are you?
We’re a group of people that come together every year at a festival in Manchester, Tenn., called Bonnaroo, and we’ve all happened to just find this camp through Reddit.

Why does one join?
We specialize in solo travel or small groups that want to be part of the big, giant group camp experience, which is really hard to find because groups are usually a bunch of friends who already know each other through college or happenstance.

How do you communicate?
Technology is our greatest friend. We have a group chat on GroupMe that has been going on for two years. Sometimes I’ll wake up and have a thousand messages to sift through of people who are just being really excited leading up to the festival or what’s going on wherever they are in either the country or the world. I would say I know 80 to 100 people that I talk to on and off throughout the year from our camp. I just spent Thanksgiving with a few people from our camp actually this past week.

What are some common values?
Some of the values that we share as being accepting people who want to go to a music festival and spend four days in the hot Tennessee heat to listen to music and be around people who listen to music no matter where they’re from to share that experience and be a part of humanity.

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

If you have a community like this that you want to tell us about, share with us here.