Gnome adoptions combat “gnomelessness,” aid local nonprofits

  • Gnomes awaiting adoption. June 14, 2021 Staff Photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Gnomes awaiting adoption. June 14, 2021 Staff Photo by Abbe Hamilton—

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    An "embryonic" gnome. June 14, 2021 Staff Photo by Abbe Hamilton—

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    Peterborough resident Bryan Field's depiction of "Dag Arvidson," who he claims is the Director of the Gnome Adoption Society of the Monadnocks. Courtesy image—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/14/2021 4:38:18 PM

Deep in the woods at the foot of Pack Monadnock stands a tiny log hut, a secret refuge for a displaced legion of tiny, vulnerable creatures: gnomes. There, the diminutive, ginger-bearded gnomes delight in the company of Dag, a reclusive old Norwegian man and “certified gnome master,” who busily facilitates their adoptions while fundraising for the Monadnock Area Transition Shelter and Shelter from the Storm, the region’s two transitional housing nonprofits.

So goes the story behind the Gnome Adoption Society of the Monadnocks, as told by Peterborough resident Bryan Field, who refers to himself as the spokesperson of the initiative.

“Ask any gnome and they will tell you that the Monadnock area is a wonderful place to live, and it is. Except when you have no home, nowhere to keep warm, nowhere to wash, nowhere safe to sleep, no permanent address,” Field wrote on the society’s website, which he maintains, he says, as a favor to its reclusive, forest-dwelling founder.

The site features photos and biographies of wayward gnomes and a breakdown of adoption fees: adopting a regular gnome costs $34, which covers “a very large donation to local homeless shelters” in addition to vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and relocation costs. There’s an additional $5 fee to adopt specialty gnomes, who carry tiny props like fishing reels, footballs, and protest signs, which covers their vocational training costs, according to the site.

 “Dag often finds these poor little creatures wandering the Monadnock forests dazed, cold and traumatized. Only after several weeks of gnomic therapy are we ready to put our little guys up for adoption,” Field wrote. Many gnomes have been orphaned, he wrote, their parents prey to coyotes, owls, and outdoor cats. Even with their pointed wooden hats, the creatures stand mere inches tall, each almost entirely obscured by long red hair, save for their round noses and an occasional hand. Each adopted gnome’s papers provide further insight into their unique natural history, Field said, including their vaccination records for common maladies including Gnome Dandruff, Chapped Nose Disease, and the novel Gnovid-19. Would-be gnome adopters must ensure they can provide a loving home for their charge, Field said. It’s also a good idea to consult with any heirs, as the average gnome can live 600 to 700 years, he said.

Homelessness can be easy to overlook in a prosperous-seeming community like Peterborough, Field said, but there are many local people experiencing homelessness, and many more who could be one unexpected setback away from it. “Unless you’re exposed to it, you’re oblivious to it,” he said. Field himself discovered the need for more emergency housing resources a couple years ago while helping a friend, he said. Field’s friend, who lived with schizophrenia, lost her job due to complications with her condition, and lost her home soon after, he said. He tried to help her find suitable mental healthcare and shelter while she lived in his home for a while. “I couldn’t find anything,” that would make a good fit, he said, and he ultimately lost touch with her after she relocated to San Francisco, where Field believes she was living on the street. The whole experience made Field understand the Monadnock region’s dire need for more shelters and mental health help, he said, and inspired him to support the organizations that do exist in the region – that is, as the spokesman for the Gnome Adoption Society.

“It’s a fantastic project and a great idea,” Shelter from the Storm Executive Director Linda Harris said. Most guests at Shelter from the Storm stay for the maximum allowable eight months, she said, and they have a waitlist booking new arrivals several months out. Even so, Harris gets about two calls a week from people in need of a place to stay, typically single men, for whom options are particularly slim in the area, she said. “The shelters are full,” she said, and there are no provisions for, say, someone from out of state traveling with a service animal. In absence of shelter vacancies, people sometimes sleep in their cars or couchsurf, sometimes with children in tow, until something opens up, she said. Harris said she couldn’t thank the Gnome Adoption Society enough for the donations. “I know a number of our people bought gnomes from him, too,” she said.

“I still can’t get over the way he writes about them,” gnome adopter and soon-to-be Peterborough resident Joan Epro said. “The thought of these little gnomes, under bridges, huddling, trying to keep warm in the cold.” Epro said she was taken by the concept even before she knew all adoption revenues went to MATS and Shelter for the Storm. She appreciated that, as a former volunteer and advocate at the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention, and even adopted some gnomes for her friends. Epro likened the website’s language to a “Save The Children”-type campaign. “He writes these fabulous biographies for them,” she said. “My guy liked classical music, and that was it for me,” she said, referring to her ward, Halfnur, who will accompany her in her move from Troy to Peterborough.

Gnome adoptions have netted nearly $600 for local nonprofits since adoptions began at the start of this year, Field said, and financial transparency information can be found on the website. The site features the stories of nearly 20 already-adopted gnomes, including Sverde, a “wild little fellow” who loves the smell of beer and whisky and likes to watch people eat, and Askel Lund, a champion of the Gnome Nordic and Alpine Ski Association.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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