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