Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Island in the Media

Imaginary or real? You must decide.
 There are stories going around in the Real World Media about New Island and that guy responsible for it. Val Christell claims that "New Island is a New Reality" in a recent article for The Third Coast Digest.  Also, in July, Bill Glasheen produced an audio slideshow For the Appleton Post-Crescent newspaper, with the claim that it's all imaginary! In 2007 Takeuchi Makoto wrote a story titled "Three-Piece Story" that includes New Island in Episodes 7, and 8. The characters in the story are determined to get to new Island but don't quiiiiite find the Rudyard ticket office in Fremantle, Western Australia. They did get hold of some NI currency and put a one-roger coin on the title page!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Island: the movie

New Island is up on YouTube ! This is a tour of New Island with questions-and-explanations!

Monday, May 31, 2010

New Island Exhibition Arrives in Kaukauna, Wisconsin USA

New Island will  present its entire art collection of landscapes, beach paintings, drawings, original maps, and a wide variety of artifacts such as the island's flag, coat-of-arms, printed maps, the guide book, coins, postage stamps, and sand samples from some of the island's beaches! Listings for available land on the island will be on display for the first time. New Island's artist-ambassador Lee Mothes will host an evening reception from 6 to 9 pm on Friday June 11, 2010.

Come and enjoy refreshments while exploring this 12,600-square-mile work of art!

Imagine having your own property on New Island! Anyone 13 and older is invited to claim land on the island, then think about a second home on the beach, a writer's retreat, a business, a vineyard, a dance studio, or other dream. Deeded parcels of New Island acreage are now available, and will be on display at the Gallery. To help make your dream place "real", Lee will create a painting of your improvements if you wish. You may also simply state your dream, or make your own images, and have it all posted on the New Island website.

New Island is being hosted by the Oceans and Dream Gallery, located above the Kaukauna Coffee and Tea coffee shop at 127 W. Wisconsin Ave., Kaukauna, WI.

Northeast Wisconsin is easily accessed by airports in Green Bay and Appleton. Both are near US Highway 41.  Get on 41and then follow the map at left.

We hope you can make it!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


School is the OTHER way, not this way!
All New Island children, whether from tribes or towns, attend a public school or are home-schooled. Kids begin primary school at age five and study math, science, history, social skills, reading, writing and drawing for about six years. They also hear and sing a variety of music, from old Irish folk ballads to rock and roll. They begin high school at age 11, where they learn among other subjects, the seven basic skills, those subjects thought to be the most nourishing for young minds. Private boarding schools, in the English tradition and in the Japanese tradition, offer programs with emphasis on the arts, science, engineering, traditional crafts or spirituality.

The Seven Basic Skills are:

1. Animal and plant husbandry
2. House design, building and transportation maintenance
3. Food-and-nutrition, simple medicine, physical health, massage therapy
4. Literacy: reading, writing, communicating skills
5. Visual depiction: Drawing, painting, sculpture, design and art history
6. Math and science: from arithmetic to the Gaia Concept
7. Spirituality: loving, caring, being, music and dance

After public school, Putney University, New Island's oldest (and only) university, offers degrees in Holistic medicine, Engineering, Oceanography, Sustainability, Social Issues/Religion, Fine Arts, Traditional crafts, Spirituality, and other more esoteric fields. Victoria College in Penhill (near Victoria Harbor) offers studies in marketing, accounting, industrial design, software development, and the like. Many high school graduates might choose one of the isolated 'outback colleges' for esoteric studies in Tantric Yoga, Art of tatoo, Zen meditation; Blues, Reggae, and African music; Organic produce production, book design and bookbinding, living-on-nothing, and Advanced being.

Next: The Great Walk

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Growing up on New Island

Children grow up with lots of help from not only from their parents but from aunts, uncles, grandparents and nearby neighbors as well. This is especially true in tribe settlements and tribal neighborhoods.

Kids learn from nature first-hand by wandering the countryside and exploring among the plants, rocks, bugs, creek beds and beaches, knowing they are trusted to not do stupid things; to look before they leap! They are literally pushed out the door when the usually mild weather allows it; and are generally ignorant of TV, electronic media and cell-phones. (Only within the last five years have computers been introduced in schools!)

Kids run free most of the time here. The general
rule is that they have to be home by dark.

Kids likely grow up in houses hand-built by their own parents or grandparents, and are often asked to help with repairs or additions. Many kids wind up building their own bedrooms or small cottages in the yard! Children can wander among different neighboring families and sometimes stay with their friends' families for long periods. Older kids (10 years +) often move in with a friend or cousin, yet still keep close to their parents. This way, kids get practical experience, and learn to socialize with other parent-figures a variety of siblings.

Kids are loved and nurtured with games, stories, art projects, and help with emotional upheavals. In raising their offspring, most parents have found that hugs, vitamins and benign neglect seem to work the best.

They rarely get bored!

Next: Education

Saturday, April 10, 2010


A garden planted in beach sand near Samas, on the island's
western shore. A note to sand-gardeners: for lush
growth in sand, mix old manure or peat from the local bog
about 50-50 with sand, plan t your plants or seeds,
then water thoroughly.
(Courtesy Samas and Lizard Garden club)

Gardens in front of some getaway cottages in the dunes near
the Hook, a sandy peninsula at the island's west end.

Islanders express their love of nature by planting whatever they can find around their homes, preferring near-chaotic combinations of herbs, climbing vines, fruit trees, veggie patches and wildflowers to formal hedges or lawns. Indeed, much of the island is too dry most of the year for lawns. Instead, islanders favor miniature desert or dune gardens with succulents, or wild grass gardens with a fish pond, or they just let nature take its course. Many settlers have left their surroundings un-gardened altogether except for a kitchen garden for food.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Settlements, Towns and Cities

Here is downtown Irian's oceanfront.
The street ends under the old Russian-built "Liberty Bridge"
whose lamp-posts are miniatures of the Statue of Liberty!
Irian was once a Russian resort town that has kept
quiet about it's beautiful beach. Scully's is an old Irish pub whose
walls are covered with limericks that some might call poetry.

Hopp's Store, in the Sheffield Desert, is the island's smallest
settlement. Bernard Hopp sells food, drinks, and various
supplies to travelers on their way to the northern coast.
Bernard also has the largest collection of comic books,
now also called
graphic novels, this side of San Francisco;
some of which he might part with.

Here is the settlement of Womby, at the mouth of
Lizard Creek on the far western coast. Womby has no
commons area, library or shops, and it's residents
share a mutual laid-back view of life. They sometimes
by chance meet and gossip on the beach.
An abandoned Russian lighthouse can be seen in the distance.

New Island's communities range from isolated settlements of 1 inhabitant to cities of 50,000 residents.

Settlements: These are marked with a tiny square on the map, and are usually a tribe. Some are non-tribe settlements with no local government, but often have some sort of public school, a post office and a commons, which is usually a park in the center with a community hall and or a 'shed TV'. The smallest settlement is Hopp's Store, population 1, (Bernard Hopp) or 2 when his girlfriend is there.

Towns: These are marked with a circle on the map, have a town council and are usually larger than settlements. Towns may have tribes within neighborhoods or tribe-enclaves, and more traditional families in other neighborhoods. Towns all have a town commons, a town hall and a library, as well as one or more schools and some shops or a central market.

Cities: Putney and Victoria Harbor are by far the largest cities on the island. (See city maps at bottom of the map.) Here are New Island's universities, major train and ship terminals, government centers, libraries, markets and everything else one would need. Neighborhoods in both cities can be tribal enclaves or traditional-family in nature. All neighborhoods have off-street walkways connecting their commons-parks and shops to other neighborhoods. When walking, you can easily notice the change from one neighborhood to the next, and its easy to get lost, but kind of fun too: asking directions might lead to new friendships... Rosslea, Skegness, Merritt and Wheatland call themselves 'cities' but that can be argued.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


This is New Island's Coat-of-Arms, adopted in 1993 soon after
Symbolized within the shield are the
island's discovery, location, abundance, home-land,
ocean energy and year-of-founding,surrounded by a eucalyptus-branch laurel.

Once New Island's settlements began to grow it became clear that some sort of island-wide representative government was needed.

James Denby, the regrettable martinet who founded New London (later Putney) came close to handing New Island over to the British, and probably should be credited with accelerating the government's creation. Denby's free-settler followers, who were grateful after Roger Putney's gift of stickyballs (see the Stickyball Incident), joined Captain Hayes, Roger and several early Elders to form an island-wide government, and to prevent Denby from sailing to Australia, thus alerting the British navy! The Japanese also were willing to participate, for defense reasons mostly, as long as they could retain their village-life and customs. The Russians, under agreement, allowed New Islanders their autonomy in trade for military allegiance.

So over many years New island's government emerged as a laizzes-faire, free-market, co-operative partnership among all New Islanders. The essence of it is this: every resident is essentially a partner and has certain rights such as freedom of speech, press and assembly; and certain responsibilities such as respect for nature and to 'Do Unto Others as You would Have Them Do Unto You'. Failure here could result in permanent exile.

After independence in 1992, the Elders mandated that the..."Government shall be as non-intrusive as possible, yet shall exist to assure an adequate infrastructure, preserve the social order, and provide for national defense. " The Commonwealth of New Island has been thus set up with the following structure:

Legislative Arm: Youngers and Elders
Neighborhoods, tribes and small outlying settlements appoint Youngers who in turn elect and advise the nation's Elders. The Youngers meet regularly to advise the regional Elder, who in turn meets at the month-long Council of Elders. The Council is New Island's legislative body that meets every April and October on Government Hill, the onetime Russian colonial headquarters outside Victoria harbor. Elders serve six-year terms but only one-third are up for election at every two-year interval. Youngers and Elders can be re-elected indefinitely.

Executive Arm: The Ministries
Trade, Transportation, Commerce, Energy, Education, Caring, Antiquities and The Arts are the Commonwealth departments or ministries. The Council of Elders appoints the Ministers, whose actions are closely watched by the Elders. The Ministry of Trade, which oversees tourism and residency is considered the most powerful. Since there is no Prime minister or President, the Minister of Trade is called upon to represent New Island at international summits. Currently, Mr. Wainwright Stevens is our Minister of Trade. Ministers may hold their appointments indefinitely, but can be voted out by a majority of the Elders.

Judicial Arm: The High Court

The High Court is made up of seven Jurists-Major and meets in Victoria Harbor to hear all cases that cannot be resolved locally, and that usually have island-wide implications. Jurists-Minor, or more commonly, Jurists, hear both civil and criminal cases in the local courts. The Constables, besides enforcing the laws, also help settle minor arguments on the spot if possible.

Police and Military:
New Island has no national police entity or military force except the Commonwealth Coast Guard. The CCG emerged as a coastal guerrilla force in the early 1800's and also proved effective in helping the Russians maintain ownership of the island, at least in the days of wooden ships. With its fleet of modern patrol vessels and motorized surf boats, the CCG is now charged with helping distressed ships, small boats and swimmers. It also monitors ocean and shoreline pollution and watches for piracy, overfishing or other shenanigans within the island's 12-mile limit.

That's government in a nutshell!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Island Culture: Families and Tribes

Some New Islanders literally live on The Very Edge
and sometimes they dance in storms.

In those first years of settlement, women not only outnumbered men by about 4 to 1, but they became a powerful force in building the island's cultural infrastructure.

When the first year ended it became clear to the island's 500-odd survivors that they were going
to stay put here for the long haul. Talk of new ideas about family structure began almost upon arrival, when the natural urges of males and females resulted in numerous under-the-fence assignations and inevitable pregnancies!

Cecelia O'Hassett and several others, with the consent of Capt. Hayes (that Enlightenment experimenter) set up marriage rules allowing unions with more than one wife per husband, and also with any number of wives and no 'official' husbands at all. These new family-units could legally raise kids, enter into legal contracts, and generally be given protection under English Law. Though some brought up the sanctity of marriage within the Church, most everyone believed they would do better be redefining the whole institution. And so they did. By the way, Captain Hayes performed many marriage ceremonies with Christian rites for those who so desired. (He was an Anglican but eventually affiliated himself with the Old Way.)

As the ratio of women to men became more balanced over succeeding generations, traditional one-wife, one-husband marriages became more common, especially in the large towns and suburbs. (yes, there are a few 'suburbs' on the island!) But in many of the back-country settlements, the Old Way marriages are still practiced.


Tribes on New Island are a big part of the social structure. They can be defined as close-knit groups of several families which have banded together for some specific purpose. Nearly every tribe produces or provides some specific product or service for its income, which is usually defined in their Charter of Intent issued by the Commonwealth. Subsistence tribes, once the majority, rely entirely on their own food and craft production, build their own shelters from materials at hand, trade very little with the rest of the island, and have no Charter. They seem to enjoy their isolation!

Tribes are common in the country and in town. Many of the isolated settlements shown on the map are tribes of roughly 150 members, which can be identified by the commons-yards and buildings surrounded by small homes. Within the neighborhoods of the larger towns, the tribes are smaller, perhaps 50 members, and have laid out their own compounds within a city block or two. These are often intricate warrens of narrow lanes that can enchant the wanderer!

Tribe members decide on the tribe's management structure, such as work hours, who does what, and pay. Profits are shared or reinvested into the tribe business. Some tribes are better at this than others, so the Ministry of Commerce is available to help.

If a tribe grows to more than 150 members, it will often split off and establish a new 'daughter' tribe or members will scatter to other tribes. Young tribe members often take off at about age 16. (see The Great Walk on a later post)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ethnic Cultures and Languages

Sata, a wayside fishing village on New Island's
northeastern coast, has changed little in 200 years.
It is constructed exclusively with
traditional Japanese methods and materials,
including bamboo brought on the initial
voyage here from southern Japan in 1807.

New Island was uninhabited when the first modern outsiders arrived, but ancient ruins indicate someone had definitely lived here in the past. The mystery of who these people were, and what happened to them, has always provided a subtle undercurrent to New Island's culture.

Irish and English rural traditions provided the early bedrock of the island's culture, but with a matriarchal twist that reverted to very old nature-oriented traditions. Wiccan celebrations were revived from the old stories, and also influenced by the harmonic buzz and the Otter visits. Multi-family groups began raising kids together and calling themselves tribes. Farming and cottage-manufacturing grew cooperatively in these same tribe-settlements. Work was important for survival, but was not considered secondary to singing, dancing under the moon, or hugging!

Other peoples have made their mark on New Island as well. Most notable are the Japanese Fishing Families who arrived on a huge home-made raft in 1807. They settled the then-uninhabited northeastern coast; planted rice and bamboo and eventually built several villages from Kofu Bay north to Cave Heads. These families and their descendants have generously shared their Japanese traditions over the years. Buddhism, rice production, the furo bath, house construction, traditional Japanese crafts and green tea have all become part of New Island's culture.

The Russians left their mark of course, though surprisingly little in the way of culture. The island simply did not attract Russian homesteaders as was hoped, but a few have settled in the Russian-speaking neighborhoods of New Russ, Gorika and Vernon near Putney; and Old Bay-Penhill near Victoria Harbor. Russian-built roads, the railways, dams, government buildings, clinics, a few resorts, abandoned military installations (nearly all recycled now) and isolated mansions are their legacy.

A few other nationalities have found their way to New Island. Some Polish construction workers who contracted to help build roads had stayed on, and their descendants live mostly along the Putney Bay Shore. About 400 current residents can trace their Spanish ancestry back to about 25 survivors of the wreck of the Juan Alvarez in 1833. Another 140 have traced their ancestry to the six surviving American sailors of the Dunrovin whaling ship incident of 1840. (The Dunrovin, an American whaling ship was "suspiciously sunk" by a Russian whaler off the island's southern coast. The exact circumstances remain a mystery.)

A few Australians, Asians, Africans, Latin Americans and Europeans have also wandered ashore over the years and all have (eventually) been welcomed.


Island Languges: The Common New island dialect is a peculiar kind of English-Irish brogue that is fairly easy for other English-speakers to understand. Japanese new Islanders speak their own hybrid tongue of 70% Japanese and 30% Island. The remaining Russians speak a Russian-Island dialect, and tell great stories to a patient listener. Islanders speak rather slowly so any visitor can usually follow a conversation.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Honoring Nature

New Islanders feel blessed with a mild climate and
adequate rains. They value their time to
rest and simply 'be' withe nature.
And they are aware of its fragility.

The women-convicts could only thank nature for their fortune.

Since the women far outnumbered the men (and female energy was further strengthened by he wreck of the Gloster in 1803) Nature was suddenly seen as a redeemer, and old women recounted stories of Nature-worship practices, long suppressed by the Catholic church and others as witchcraft or simple paganism. Captain Hayes and Cecelia O'hassett (along with the nature of sexual attraction) persuaded most of the reluctant guards and ships' crew to go along with a new form of civilization being offered by the women. Captain Hayes' reasoning was also influenced by the currently-in-vogue Age of Enlightenment.

It became very important to honor nature in religious practices, government, land use, and what we now generally call sustainability.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thanks to Recent Followers!

This blog will continue to show many paintings and drawings
I've done of the island, like this one titled "The yellow Island".
Prints of these will be available soon.

Some followers have found New Island!

I hope this 'place', which is also my art, will continue to entertain you and that you'll tell your friends about it!

The story of New Island will continue on this blog. Also there will be a way for anyone to become a New Islander in real life. You'll be able to become a resident-being, acquire a building site, select or design your own house, retreat, film studio, ashram, or what-have-you for your site; or even create your own tribe. I'll announce these opportunities when they are ready!

By the Way, check out the Putney Times (current events, gossip) and the Cool Stuff from New Island blogs. They are part of this whole thing.

(Sorry about the link problem of getting directly to the New Island blog from the Putney Times or Cool Stuff blogs. I'm working to get that fixed.)

Stay tuned and thanks again!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Island and Nature

This is the landscape that greeted the first settlers
on the island: quiet and green and
literally buzzing with the promise
of redemption.

Nature had an early influence...

Imagine you are camping out
forever on a completely unknown island far away from home with only a few farming and construction tools, some seeds, chickens and pigs and maybe a few 'how-to' books circa 1799.

Also imagine you are likely illiterate (someone had to read the how-to books to you) and had been living a life of desperate poverty before being exiled off the edge of the known world by the law. You are also Irish or English and female with no rights at all as you were thrown into a floating prison for weeks on end with other rowdy, angry and often diseased shipmates before you were dumped here in a storm that you are amazed you survived!

The shipwreck had leveled the playing field a bit, and everyone, from the captain on down, has pitched in to salvage food and supplies and to set up a camp. A women-only compound has been established to hopefully ward off horny guards and sailors, and there you have perhaps your first sit-down meal and even a bit of grog to drink. As you and your mates talk you all acquire a giddy sense that the storm (Nature) may have freed you!

Finally exhausted, you sleep among sand dunes out of the wind, and you are still cold and wet, but the next day the sun comes up warm, the wind has died, and you and your mates do something completely unheard of: without a word on some mysterious cue, you all throw off your grimy wet clothes and enjoy the warm sun for the first time! (Well, there is a reason: your clothes are filthy from the voyage, and you've found a small stream in which to wash them, and yourselves...) But you can't help but sense a renewal here!

You and your mates are allowed to explore without a guard escort. (Where could you escape to anyway?) Away from the camp, you find no sign of hostile natives (luckily) but once inland from the roar of the surf, you are amazed at how quiet the place is. With few trees, the land is silent save for the twittering of some birds; and then you hear that hum... It seems to emanate from nowhere and everywhere; it has no audible source. It is pleasing, though, and a deeply soothing sound like the buzz of a million bees.

The older women say the hum is the Goddess who has brought the storm, the warm sun and this island to take care of us all; and you think there might be something to this idea. Indeed, nearly everyone here has realized that nature can be all-powerful and godlike, yet quite different from the 'traditional' god back home, the god invoked by the English churches and courts to help get rid of you!

Yes, you are a female convict that was being 'transported' to Australia from England to serve a seven year sentence of hard labor, and you got lucky!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Island's People Today

"We're all a bit mad, you know...", said the Cheshire Cat in
Alice in Wonderland.

New Islanders tend to be free-spirited, freethinking, a bit adventurous and at ease with themselves. They love nature, are very aware of their own limited resources, and have embraced sustainability from experience. Indeed, the influence of nature has been pervasive here, from the Otter visits in the 1800's, to the 'Om'-like and still- mysterious "buzz" that can be heard in the island's outback.

Most islanders believe in a kindly God, the Way of the Goddess, and in a benevolent Universe. They feel they are meant to be here and they do their best to care for one another. Since the first settlers were overwhelmingly women (and charismatic, adventurous and a bit scurrilous) a matriarchal society, complete with Goddess-oriented religious practices became the status quo.

Of course without the help of the Russian Empire beginning in 1821, these early New Islanders would have remained an extremely primitive nation of impoverished Gaelic farmers. Though Russia extracted great quantities of whales, seals, fish, timber, and the local (sacred) otters, their presence was an unintended benefit. The Russians only wanted to extract raw materials, then later to secure an outpost from which to watch (and pester) the Americans and Australians. They did all this with almost no contact with the islanders other than to demand farm-produce quotas from them, but usually with an offered carrot in return.

This they accomplished by importing supplies like cookware, nails, seeds, tools, cloth, and some goodies like chocolate, coffee, tea and vodka. Beginning in the early 20th Century, the Soviet Navy and later the KGB enjoyed huge budgets with which they built concrete roads, hydroelectric dams, streets, railways, medical centers and other infrastructure to modernize the island.

In the Russian commanders' eyes, the islanders tended to be a bit spacey, and therefore unpredictable (and potentially dangerous) but yet proved themselves to be willing to fulfill the quotas and were a fierce guerrilla force in defending the island's coasts. So the standard procedure was to let them alone: islanders ran their own towns, schools, cultural affairs, police and governing. In 1992, the Russians graciously left all the infrastructure intact, except the airport control tower and military installations.

Next: more on New Island's culture

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What New Island is About...

It's about loving yourself, being yourself
and maybe being a little crazy too.

I've been painting imaginary places for many years, and most of them seem to be coming from New Island. This place celebrates the sense of "other", an island of the mind that can be whatever you want it to be. I'm a wanderer there. I poke around, visit friends, make pictures of the landscape (and my friends) . I'm probably being a little crazy here but I can't not do it.

I would love for this to be a place other people could go to. I 've built it with many paintings, drawings, maps and artifacts such as tickets, postage stamps, currency, a flag and coat-of-arms and documents such as deeds and plat maps. Like any small nation, New Island has a history and a culture, but it sits out there isolated and largely unknown. It is still the last nearly-unknown island waiting to be discovered!

Until maybe now.

The previous posts gave a brief historical overview. Future posts will talk about the island now, and also how anyone can be a resident and own a building site there.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Elders Take the Grand Tour

The Elders started their journey out of Victoria Harbor aboard this ship.

The SS
Charles Ames and New Ireland were handed over to
the islanders as part of the 1992 Independence package.
Both ships were used to ferry Russian higher-up bureaucrats
and cargo to the island in the 1960s and '70s.
These now-restored vessels connect Fremantle Australia with
New Island's ports of Victoria Harbor and Putney.

New Islanders had no idea of how the world worked in 1992. They received very little news of outside events such as the world wars, or that there was a much bigger world out there with its huge cities, mass-market cultures, religions, space travel and the Internet. The Russians helped modernize New Island with dams, roads, railways, architecture and medical care, but restricted newspapers and radios and never introduced television!

The island's Elders knew there was definitely something out there. Their information came in mostly via short-wave radio and from a few old friends and contacts in Australia, who never forgot the island during its "off the map" years.

So they knew they had to take a tour.

In November 1992, a group of 9 Elders toured 30 countries in North America and Europe, with a stop in Japan on the way home. They took the steamer Charles Ames to Fremantle where their Australian friends met them and gave them a quick tutorial on international travel, then helped them reserve tickets and car-rental reservations. (Only one of the group, Clyde MacEvoy, could drive!)

They then flew to Melbourne, then on to Los Angeles, and stopped in Chicago, rented a van and drove out into the suburbs. There was no real plan, it just seemed the thing to do. After aimless driving and stopping for fast food, they stayed at a Ramada in Barrington, rented two rooms and watched TV most of the night, while getting a bit high from what they found in the mini-bar.

They traveled more as anonymous tourists than delegates from an emerging nation, and really didn't want to advertise their presence. They saw no heads-of-state, but they did wander into randomly-chosen corporate headquarters buildings in the area, attracted by the opulence. When challenged by security, they explained they were on a fact-finding tour from New Island, and after some rude questions in small rooms, they were brusquely escorted off the grounds...

By luck they found their way back to O'hare airport and the van rental agency in time to catch their plane to Ireland, then London. They enjoyed London more than Chicago, and from there (London) they took trains across Europe to St. Petersburg and Kiev, then a long flight to Tokyo, then more train rides to Osaka, and all the way to Kagoshima. Then from Japan they flew on to Melbourne and finally to Perth-Fremantel, and the boat back home.

They were exhausted, but they learned a lot of what they did not want to see on New Island.

Friday, January 29, 2010

New Island Gains its Independence!

A portion of the first comprehensive
map of New Island, copied from the
original Russian Survey map of 1912,
and redrawn in English.

In 1992, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the newly formed Russian Federation found itself the owner of the unacknowledged island. It no longer had strategic value and was expensive to maintain as a colony, so Russia arranged a sale to the island Elders. For a 20-year promissory quota of fish and wool, plus an undisclosed amount of gold, the islanders bought their independence! ( The gold was believed to have been acquired from the wreck of the Spanish merchantman Juan Alvarez in 1830, and hoarded in a cave.)

On April 13, the island's name was officially changed to The Commonwealth of New Island, and the celebrations lasted for days.


New Island's Elders had long ruled the towns and settlements not directly under Russian administration. They used local governing practices more or less laid down by Cecelia, Captain Hayes, Roger Putney and others, but were unprepared to set up a nationwide government, let alone interact with the outside world as a sovereign state!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Yellow Island Disappears

During the Cold War years, used Eastern Bloc rail cars
were imported to New Island for luxury Russian VIP travel
and to help mollify the locals.
The Czech-built electric locomotives above
were a "gift of the Russian People" in 1962, and
have been lovingly maintained ever since.

Russia's political upheaval from Czarist to socialist governments was slow to arrive to distant Yellow Island since travel and news to the island took several months. Indeed, in the years immediately following the 1917 revolution the island was nearly forgotten.

Meanwhile, Governor-General Poloustrov continued building the island's roads and railways. He was a skilled negotiator and tried to be fair to islanders displaced by the projects. At the start of construction, native islanders had only crude dirt roads and wooden carts for transportation, so they grew to love the trains and were also grateful for the free medical care the Russians provided. Roadbuilding almost became an obsession for a while as every settlement wanted to be connected to the new Russian roads and railways. Local residents readily offered labor in trade for a road to their village. Now farm tribes could easily trade their produce with townspeople and the Russian garrisons. People could wander the island with relative ease. When the Bolsheviks finally arrived, they found the islander culture to be already socialized, so they raised the Soviet flag, changed Poloustrov's title to "Commander" and allowed him to keep his post.

As the 20th Century progressed, Soviet Russia's relations with the islanders became more harsh. In the 1930's Joseph Stalin raised the island's export quotas of wool, wheat and fish and replaced Commander Poloustrov with a strict "committee". In the late 1940s land was taken for a secret submarine base and other military projects that were beyond the comprehension of the islanders. To their consternation, islanders were no longer allowed to travel offshore, make international calls, own radio transmitters, or use typewriters without special permission.

By 1949 the Cold War arrived on the island and eventually led to its virtual erasure.

An American commando unit arrived on a dark night that year, and took the Russians by surprise by quickly cordoning off an area surrounding Desert Point on the island's desolate northern coast. It appears now that the newly organized American CIA had been watching Soviet Russia's military activities on the island and clandestinely set up a fortified tracking station of their own to monitor the Russians. In a hush-hush agreement, the Soviets allowed the Americans to stay in return for denying the island's existence! The Yellow island was then deleted from all published maps in both the Soviet-bloc East and the Capitalist West. It became a Blank Spot in the region, something not that uncommon! Amazingly, it was then completely forgotten by nearly everyone (except the islanders and a few military staffers) for about 50 years.

This military presence did have the benefit of Soviet Russia adding more hydroelectric, road and rail service, including streetcar lines in both Putney and Kronstadt, as well as the restricted phone service. As long as the islanders were allowed to live relatively unmolested, they were more or less satisfied.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Island in Pictures (more history later)

The Putney-to-Victoria express is captured here
by an observant surfer between Flatley and Swansea,
on the Putney Bay shore.
Volcanic Mt. Hayes is visible in the distance.

Wow, here we are at the Beatty ruins on the North Bight Path.
These are typical of the Old People ruins, consisting of
large stone blocks carefully cut and fitted.

Now we are approaching one of the lovely
beaches in the Yellow Hills Wandering Preserve,
about three miles south of the ruins.

This is Anita Bailey (we think) dancing
on the edge at 3,500 feet elevation,
near North Cape.

Here is the path to North Cape on a clear day.

These views of the island were painted by New Island artist Rusty Mothes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Russian Occupation of the Yellow Island

This is an English-version reproduction of the original chart
drafted during Admiral Bellingshausen's circumnavigation
of the Yellow Island. The name came from the abundant
wildflowers frequently observed from the ship.

The Russians occupied our island until 1992.

Once the Czar announced the island's existence as a Russian colony, other nations, pirates and privateers soon began to test its defenses. The islanders proved their homegrown defense capabilities by setting fire to anchored ships while foreign raiding parties tried to overrun settlements. The Czar thwarted an extradition attempt by the British in 1825 by threatening to expose a certain delicate situation between the Russian and British royal families...

Eventually the world accepted the fact that Russia owned the island.

Czar Alexander wanted the island to pay its way and demanded quotas of wheat and wool, which Bellingshausen had reported were being produced by the settlers. The Czar's colonial commanders were pragmatic enough to realize that forced labor would likely bring on a native uprising, thus they agreed to a barter system whereby Russian finished goods would be traded for the island's produce. The Russian administrators, laborers and contractors who had contact with the islanders were usually intimidated by the women's' wild, intense gaze and their 'natural' clothing styles. These newcomers really didn't understand what the islanders were up to, nor did they want to, so they simply left them alone.

The abundant offshore whales and sea otters were not so lucky, as they were savagely hunted for their oil and fur. Beginning in 1830, Russian whaling operations were set up near Kronstadt, and Russian ships hunted down the region's whales, seals and otters until they were very near to extinction. This disturbed the islanders greatly as the otters were a sacred animal, and the stench of the offal dumped into Kronstadt Bay was nearly suffocating at times. By 1902 the entire area was fished out and the operations closed down, but you can still see the bleached bones littering the shoreline north of the Marketside district.

The southeastern forests were also a target for export. In the late 1880's Russian loggers cut down a considerable amount of local timber for export, especially in the more accessible areas east of Kronstadt. Fortunately, the Revolution interrupted this practice before the major mountain forests were cut. Some tree farms were developed in the 1920's, and New Islanders still practice the methods they learned from the Russian foresters.

After 1900 Czar Nicholas began to see the island as a strategic naval base, and in 1906 assigned Governor General Alexander Poloustrov the post of colonial commander. Poloustrov was given the task and a healthy budget to build roads, railways, hydroelectric plants, deep-water ports and other infrastructure to make it a useful outpost for the military, and as a possible resort for the Russian elite. Poloustrov hired Polish and Russian laborers to build these projects, which fortunately neared completion when the Revolution finally caught up with the island around 1920.

Next: The island disappears!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Russians Arrive

The Russians claimed New Island in 1820.

Czar Alexander I had entered the race to colonize distant lands far later than the rest of Europe. In 1819 he sent Fabian von Bellingshausen on an expedition to circumnavigate Antarctica as well as to chart the last 'unknown' regions of the Southern Ocean. In April of 1820, Bellingshausen headed north from Antarctic waters to Java, to wait out the approaching southern winter. En route he encountered a " of a hilly nature with smokes and other signs of settlement."

A cautious man, Capt. B. decided to sail around the island first, creating New Island's first coastal chart along the way. He finally ventured a landing at Old Bay, on the island's southern shore and near where he first sighted the island. Waiting for him (his progress had been closely watched) was a large group of fair-skinned, English-speaking and rustically-clad locals.

And so many women!

By luck, a Russian deck officer spoke enough English to initiate a conversation, and what a conversation! The Russians were immediately impressed by the level of civilization these shipwrecked female convicts had accomplished! The also knew that to maintain any hope of holding on to this outpost from the grasp of the rest of Europe, they would need allies.

After two weeks of negotiations with settlement Elders, a unique agreement was reached: Russia would declare the island a sovereign Russian possession, thus keeping it out of the hands of other European powers. The islanders, in turn, would allow the Russians to use the island's natural harbors as port facilities, and they would also help defend the island for Russia. Beyond this, the islanders and their way of life would be left alone: no Russian police force, no missionaries, and no interference in islander affairs! Russian settlement would be confined to a surveyed area near the two port sites.

The Elders were very firm on this and Captain Bellingshausen signed to it.

Next: Russian occupation, and some rough times.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Japanese fishermen also discover New Island

In 1807, just as the Europeans were settling much of New Island's south-western coasts and valleys, a group of fishing families from Tsushima in Southern Japan landed on the north-eastern coast of the island.

Here's their story, as handed down the generations:

Facing persecution for their Buddhist faith from the ruling Tokogawa clan, 19 families from the fishing town of Tsushima secretly built a huge raft, in sections, then lashed it together one moonlit night and set sail for a new home. About 109 men, women and children fled their native homeland in 1804 and wandered for three years among the islands of the
East China Sea
South China Sea
Celebes Sea
Banda Sea
and the Timor Sea
Until they hit Australia. They patiently hugged the inhospitable Australian coast and at Cape Inscription, finally decided to follow a "mysterious and delightful light" that led them west to New Island. Here they found their new Eden: a dramatic coastline with good rainfall, not too hot, lots of fish, and nooooobody there to give them grief.

They founded the town of Sata, and later a few outlying villages where they could harness streams for rice-paddy irrigation, and also fish. Along with rice and other native seeds, they brought timber bamboo along with them, which they allowed to grow wild on the hillsides.

They were completely isolated until 1819 when a group of young women (teenagers mostly) from Elsinore, a new farming tribe to the south, discovered them. After a wary period of shyness, the girls were treated well and soon learned about the delicious local seafood and rice dishes, the furo bath and the marvels of Japanese crafts and architecture--"all so different and all so delightful", the girls reported! Thus relations and trading were established. Japanese fishing and construction techniques were soon known over much of the island, and Buddhist practices, such as zen meditation, became popular--long before they were known in the West!


For 21 years, English-Irish convict women, ships' crew and guards; a band of settlers (for a while under the dubious Mr. Denby); and a few Japanese families enjoyed the freedom to create their own lifestyles and their own civilization, something completely unknown at this time. The women, inspired by stories about the "Old Religion" of 5,000 years ago, and other pagan and animist traditions, branched off into many tribes to farm and do things their own way.

But eventually one of the Great Powers would claim the island...and by luck it was Czarist Russia. If the British had claimed it, the convicts would have been shipped off to Australia, among other disruptions! If it were the Spanish, French, Portuguese or the Dutch, all with ships crossing the Indian Ocean more and more frequently, who knows how the island would have fared, but the delicate social experiments would likely have been crushed.

Next time: The Russians

Monday, January 4, 2010

How New Island Was Settled

Map of Settlement (click the map to read it better)

Settlement spread quickly from the shipwreck sites near Beastey, Palmer
and Old Bay. By the time the Russians claimed New Island in 1820,
English-Irish and then Japanese settlers
(a whole other story!) had established several coastal communities
and a few farm towns inland, as well as many isolated outposts.

Women virtually ruled New Island mostly because of their sheer numbers in proportion to the men (about 4 to 1) and because they seemed more adaptable to the turn of events that led them here. Perhaps it was a stronger instinct to survive coupled with a dare-it-all attitude that got them into trouble in the first place! They became excellent leaders as well as capable diplomats, and were far more willing to experiment with living arrangements to insure their survival.

Some of the young sailors and guards went along with womens' community-life ideas that were truly radical for the time. The older sailors and most of the military/guard held out and settled into bachelor-villages of their own, hoping to continue some vestige of their previous lives at home. It turned out that a lot of women frequented the taverns these guys had established!

The men who joined the women in the new communities, especi
ally those in the emerging tribes, had quite a great time of it, as their services were much in demand. It wasn't long before there were lots of kids being raised by entire villages!

Supplies salvaged from the wrecks
greatly helped the new communities. Sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and chickens had survived the shipwrecks and varieties of grains and vegetables (from English seed stock) were soon thriving in small fields. Tools and a library of how-to books from the Swallowtail were most beneficial!

Next: Japanese settlers, and then the Russians

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Moving Onwardly

New Island has been noticed! Thanks to Jodi-who-smiles, Zoey, John C. and KT for
becoming the first followers of New Island's blog-website.

I'll continue with New Island's early history for a while, and keep it as brief as possible.

Like everywhere else, what is going on on New Island today is a result of the island's history!
For example, the stamp above is meaningless unless you know what the ship and and the guy in the uniform are all about. This is third grade stuff in New Island schools, but we're catching up!

More later!