Montecito Journal published an article about 3 Mules visit to Anacapa School’s Breakfast Club on March 20, 2015.
By Sean, The Outside Way
LIVING OUTSIDE FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS
Holly molly!!, where is my camera? Was all I could think of when I stepped out of the trailer this morning and saw moving in almost slow motion, a sturdy weathered man, and his 3 mules meandering past our steps. Being a camp host, we see all sorts of different people pass through, mostly on foot or bicycle, but never fully loaded pack mules. By the time I was able to grab my camera he was no where to be seen. OMG! He must be some sort of magician I thought, then upon closer inspection I realized he was just hanging out by a tree about 50 yards out. I still can’t get over how a guy with 3 fully packed mules manages to move around so stealthy, it was quite incredible to watch him and his animals move from tree to tree so leisurely that you could barley notice their presence. They hung out just long enough for his mules to munch down some grass and drink some water, then they were gone as mysteriously as they had appeared.
All I could think all morning was, who is this guy? What adventure is he on? Luckily printed on the side of one of his cargo cases was his website explaining his mission: “We exercise the freedom to live outside and move freely in all directions, north, south, east and west, one step at a time all day every day as our ancestors have done along with the Grizzly Bear, Wolf, Elk, Deer, Lion, Salmon – long time companions that humans have lived with on earth for thousands of years. His real name is John Sears, but he prefers the name Mule. At the age of 65, he’s been living a semi nomadic life for the past 29 years, and full time outdoor living with his mules for 10.” (3mules.com) His traveling family consists of: Little Girl (the white mule) has been with him for 23 years, Lady (the brown mule) 30 years, and Who-dee-doo since February 23, 2015.
He travels up and down California delivering his “Declaration of Emergency,” to city halls across the state. According to his website this is why?
“The Natural World that resides on this earth with all its inhabitants is being destroyed by a spreading, sprawling Megatropolis (man-made world) that shows no bounds and cares not for the consequences of its behavior. The Natural World that human beings must have to be and remain human is vanishing rapidly. The Human Race is truly in a state of emergency. We must curtail and redirect the energy of this Megatropolis going wild over the face of earth into a direction of seeking balance with earth and its Natural World not its destruction.” (3mules.com)
“The above being said a most first necessary step, an interstate trail system in this country going in all four directions (north, south, east and west) linking all states to all other states passed and funded by Congress with the same energy and effort that was applied to the building of the interstate freeway system.” (3mules.com)
I feel fortunate to have come across a man who is on such an honorable mission even though we never even spoke. I highly recommend visiting Mule’s website and learning more about his lifestyle and mission because what he is fighting for really does affect us all.
Santa Barbara News-Press published an article about 3 Mules visit to Anacapa School’s Breakfast Club on March 20, 2015.
Synopsis: On March 16, 2015, after buying a soda at Big Lots, Mule was eating lunch with the mules in a quiet, shady area of the Big Lots parking lot when five Ventura Police cars surrounded them. Ventura Police issued a $132 administrative citation for “Control of Domesticated Animals – Running at Large”. The Mules were not running at large. The Mules followed procedures to contest the citation. This contest was rejected by the Ventura Police Administrative Review Officer, after which the Mules contacted attorney Steven X. Schwenk who requested an Administrative Hearing. On June 15, 2015, Ventura Police Department sent a follow-up letter stating that the “Animals at Large” citation will be vacated, stating “This Department’s investigation has determined that there is insufficient evidence you were responsible for violation of the SBMC section as cited.”
March 16, 2015
The Mules were peacefully taking a break in a shady spot yesterday when five Ventura Police cars surrounded us. Ventura Police issued a $132 administrative citation for walking in their city.
“San Buenaventura Municipal Code Chapter 8.050, Article 6 Control of Domesticated Animals Other than Household Pets, Section 8.050.660. – Running at large:
It shall be unlawful for any person owning or having control of any animals, rabbits, poultry or domestic fowl, other than household pets, to permit the same to run or go or be at large upon the premises of any other person, without permission so to do, or on the street or public places within the city.”
March 18, 2015
The Mules researched how to contest this citation. This is what is written on the Ventura website. The information on the website conflicts with what is written on the citation. However, we will meet the earlier deadline and hand deliver our paperwork to contest the citation.
March 19, 2015
Ventura County Star published an article today about Monday’s incident in Ventura. Article states that “Police said the managers of Wendy’s and Big Lots called to complain”. Mule went into Big Lots to buy a soda. While inside Big Lots as a customer, Mule was never told that he was not allowed to shop in the store. Big Lots accepted money for the soda.
After buying the soda, Mule returned to the parking lot to eat his lunch and was never approached by Big Lots or Wendy’s managers they could not be there. The mules were hitched in Big Lots back parking lot in an empty, quiet section to keep the mules safe from cars and not near Wendy’s. Google satellite image of where mules were at in parking lot as well as photos that Mule took in parking lot of location.) No sign in the parking lot posted that horses and mules are not permitted.
Article also states that “mules were leaving traces of their visit in the parking lot.” The police witnessed Mule clean up the droppings immediately after it happened.
Article quotes Brian Brennan, former Ventura City Council member, “In the city of Ventura, you can still tie up horses on Main Street – an old law never taken off the books.”
Mules were given an administrative citation for San Buenaventura Municipal Code Chapter 8.050, Article 6 Control of Domesticated Animals Other than Household Pets, Section 8.050.660. – Running at large: It shall be unlawful for any person owning or having control of any animals, rabbits, poultry or domestic fowl, other than household pets, to permit the same to run or go or be at large upon the premises of any other person, without permission so to do, or on the street or public places within the city.”
March 25, 2015
We the Mules left Montecito this morning on our way to Ventura, California to deliver our completed contest form and additional letter of evidence to Ventura Police Department, and Ventura City Mayor contesting the citation that was written against us the Mules for animals running at Large (SBMC) 8.050.660. We will probably arrive there Thursday. Below is what we sent.
Note: Not publicly sharing pages 5-7 to keep witness accounts private.
March 27, 2015
The Mules arrived at Ventura City Hall in the afternoon and presented the DOE, MCL and the Request Review Form (contesting the citation (SBMC 8.050.660 Running at Large written against us by the law enforcement arm of the Ventura Megatropolis) to the city manager Mark D. Walkins, who happened to be passing through and said he would see to it the Mayor, police chief and the Administrative Review Officer, each get a copy delivered to them that we provided in three envelopes. The Mules said thank you then left, got back onto the public thoroughfare (all city, county and state roads) and proceeded to travel north on our ages old migratory journey north.
The public thoroughfare in this country belongs to the Public. It is our freedom – the right to wake up in the morning and choose where you go, how you go, when you go – must be held sacrasank. It is the basis on which so many have given life and limb to protect and preserve. For any Megatropolis and its official, Ventura and others who make and pass laws, codes, ordinances that restrict any by denying the use of the public thoroughfare to any one of the citizenry are engaged in a blatant act of illegality.
While everybody is distracted and worried about issues that the officials tell the media to put in front of the public, the Megatropolis is sneaking through the backdoor using ordinances and codes to destroy the public access to the public thoroughfare.
Watch the Mules. The Public Thoroughfare is our life blood for to lose it is our death we know this, so we will resist this all day, every day, one step at a time.
May 12, 2015
Ventura Police Department sent letter that our request to contest the citation was rejected.
Upon receiving this rejection letter, we contacted attorney Steven X. Schwenk located in Mill Valley, CA to represent The Mules.
Mr. Schwenk agreed and sent a letter as well as spoke with Ventura City Clerk requesting an Administrative Hearing to discuss the rejected initial Administrative Review
June 15, 2015
Ventura Police Department sent a follow-up letter stating that the “Animals at Large” citation will be vacated, stating “This Department’s investigation has determined that there is insufficient evidence you were responsible for violation of the SBMC section as cited.” Thus, no in person Administrative Hearing was required.
Thank you Attorney Steven X. Schwenk for stepping up to represent The Mules pro bono with willingness to travel from Mill Valley to Ventura to defend us in court for this citation that we did not believe was valid in the first place.
For those that have followed our blog, we are a married couple making plans for the full-time RV “nomadic” lifestyle. Although we been busy working the plan for our Great Escape in 2016, we are still living in a home that we rent, and we still have our small retail business.
As we have started blogging, we follow other blogs and simply read even more blogs, all with the common thread of people who have chosen to be “nomads”. Of course, in our online “travels”, it has become obvious that there are differing levels of the nomadic lifestyle based on individual resources. Some are traveling full-time in a van or pick-up truck with camper or a tent trailer or even just a tent, while others are doing the same thing in a high dollar rig like a Prevost. And then there is the bulk of the rest of us in 5th wheels and motorhomes, all of us nomads or nomad wanabees.
If you look up the definition of “nomad”, one definition is… “a member of a people having no permanent abode, and who travel from place to place…” Some synonyms for the word “nomad” include “travel”, wanderer” and “rover”.
So today, on my way to the office, driving down a country road, I come across this guy…
He was just walking along the edge of the road, leading his Mule Team. As I drove by, I commented to my wife that “I’ll bet THAT guy has a story to tell”. She said, “why don’t you drop me off at the shop and go back and find out?” So, I did.
In the 10-15 minutes that it took me to return, he had not gotten too far. So I pulled into an empty lot up ahead of him aways, and waited for him to approach. I asked if he had a few minutes to stop and talk with me. He said “Sure!”
His name is “Mule”. And he’s been on the road and living outdoors for decades. The other “mules” are “Lady” and “Little Girl”. Apparently, they have become fairly famous in the West, although I did not know that when we met.
We talked for most of an hour, just me and the three mules. After just a few moments, it became clear to me that “Mule” was not just a nomad. He is a road warrior. A man on a mission. But before getting into that, let me tell you that he has been on the road for 31 of his 67 years. And the other mules have been with him for most of that time. Apparently, mules live long lives. One was in her 20s and the other was 40 something.
Mule was born and raised in the San Francisco but during his life on the road, he has traveled throughout the west and as far east as Arkansas. I asked him if he ever rides the other mules. He said he used to have a third mule, “Pepper” but it came up lame, so he gave it to a good home. Now, he just walks. And walks, and walks. Generally, 15-20 miles per day.
As I alluded to earlier, Mule is a man on a mission. He travels the West calling attention to and otherwise alerting folks to out of control urban sprawl which he firmly believes is ruining “the beautiful earth”. Particularly stuck in his craw, is California Penal Code 647(e) which, among other things, makes lying down and sleeping pretty much ANYWHERE, an offense for disorderly conduct. Because that is exactly what he does nightly, he has been arrested in many, many jurisdictions throughout California. This has, in nearly every case, led to charges having been dropped, but often times not before he is arrested and his mules hauled off to Animal Control, for which he has to pay to retrieve them.
Mule, his real name is John Sears according to court documents, even has a website…3mules.com
He firmly believes that what we have, what he and other nomadic lifestyle individuals treasure, will eventually disappear, the wide open and free Great Outdoors. He is convinced that the establishment is working to insure that this will happen in the name of “progress”. Maybe sooner than later.
Interestingly, at the end of our conversation he said “Can I ask YOU a question?” “Can you tell me where the local City Hall is?” I gave him directions and wondered if, being the activist that he is, he’d be sleeping outside City Hall tonight…or INSIDE next door at the police station.
As the 3 Mules and the monk live outside all day every day, wild mustard greens is an integral part of our food source.
When we were walking the other day through the Megatropolis (the man-made world), we saw this bit of wild mustard green growing through the crack between the sidewalk and the wall.
We took a picture of this image because it symbolizes our life.
The wall is the Megatropolis and the ever increasing space it is taking for its use only – designing and building that space for nothing else but its high speed machines. The mustard greens broke through a crack in the wall and established a foothold in creating a new home for themselves like they could never before have imagined. The crack in the wall is a space to be alive and exist.
The 3 Mules are creating their own space in a space that is being claimed by the Megatropolis, in which regulators create laws and codes to de-legitimize us mules living outside.
For the past thirty years, the 3 Mules have been on a true journey challenging us to give all our faith, hope and energy to a cause that will bring our survival to a level we can only now imagine.
By Dan Kapelovitz
I was walking by the United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles, when I saw two mules standing on the courthouse steps.
I had to investigate what this was all about.
It turned out that the federal government was prosecuting a man for disobeying a “lawful order of a government employee” and for “camping outside designated areas” of a National Park. In other words, John Sears and these two mules had been walking all day and needed rest. Mr. Sears found a resting place with no one else around and fell asleep. He had no notice that doing so was against the law, or that he was even in a federal park. When the park rangers woke him and ordered him to leave, he refused because traveling through the darkness would have been unsafe.
I further learned that, at that very moment, this man was defending himself at trial against these federal charges. I desperately wanted to watch this trial, but I needed to be at a hearing in another courtroom across town.
Instead, I gave my business card to one of the kind people watching the mules, and explained that I would be happy to provide free legal services to Mr. Sears if he ever needed my assistance.
I had just recently had my own dealings with the “Environmental Crimes Unit.” I defended a man accused of the federal offense of walking a dog without a leash in a National Park. In that case, I was fighting against the same Assistant U.S. Attorney who was prosecuting Mr. Sears and against the same park rangers who had arrested him. So I had a pretty good idea what Mr. Sears was up against.
In the dog-leash case, my client was convicted and given a suspended sentence of two days in jail, a case I am currently appealing based on various violations of my client’s constitutional rights. I had a feeling that the government was similarly violating Mr. Sears’s fundamental rights
I figured that I would never hear from Mr. Sears, but a couple of months later, I received a call informing me that he had just been arrested again, this time by Ventura County law enforcement. I agreed to help, but, as it turned out, Mr. Sears didn’t need any help because the case was almost immediately dismissed.
Soon after, Mr. Sears himself called me. After we spoke about his federal case, I told him that if he wished to appeal his convictions, I would be happy to represent him pro bono.
Instead of treating the Mules as criminals, the federal government should be hailing them as modern day examples of how to use and relate to our national parks. I found the Mules and the way they must live on this earth to be the embodiment of the American Spirit moving freely with the natural flowing energy of this earth. All he wants is to be free – free to roam the great, yet ever-shrinking, American outdoors. In its response to our appellant brief, the government wrote, “Allowing individuals to camp wherever they wish would create a free-for-all on public land” as if this were a bad thing. But freedom for all is what we are fighting for, and freedom is what Mr. Sears’s journey represents.
Daniel I. Kapelovitz
7119 W. Sunset Boulevard #999
West Hollywood, CA 90046
mobile: (323) 839-6227
When we went to Rancho Cucamonga to deliver the Declaration of Emergency (DOE) to City Hall, we went to the mayor’s reception desk and gave the DOE to the receptionist. She said she would see that the mayor would get the document (DOE). Upon returning to my mules, a police officer and a lady approached us (very friendly) with the DOE in their hands, which I was assured would be delivered to the mayor. They handed us this pamphlet offering us many varied kinds of assistance.
From the above said, it said to us that the City of Rancho Cucamonga is not willing to recognize the legitimate right of a horseman/horsewoman traveling through Rancho Cucamonga to stop and rest for a night. Instead, we are seen and treated and put into the category of homelessness.
The Mules being a part of and belonging to this ages old and sacred relationship between man and horse traveling peacefully across this beautiful earth will never accept or legitimize this kind of treatment.
On March 5, 2015, city of Norco’s Mayor Herb Higgins e-mailed 3 Mules, stating: “We read your letter last night at the Norco City Council. We as an animal loving community take pride in the fact you stayed with us on your journey. It is with hope you do accomplish your mission. We in Norco salute you on your journey and wish you much success. Herb Higgins, Mayor of Norco”
This morning the San Bernardino county sheriff woke us up that we were trespassing. We were resting along the canal trail (here) that many people jog on it all the time. It is getting very hard for us to go to sleep. We were informed that if we were caught sleeping again anywhere in San Bernardino county on private or city land, we would be subject to trespassing charges. Running off to the remote mountains is not an option for us either because we are also woken up in the mountains and told we can’t sleep for the night.