Tag Archives: Nomadland

Nomadland Starring Frances McDormand

I finally watched Nomadland. It’s been out since February but I just now got it at the Redbox.

Nomadland is a movie based on the non-fiction book of the same title by journalist, Jessica Bruder. Bruder featured several people living a nomad lifestyle doing different things in her book. The common denominator was that they were forced out of homes and into vans and old RVs because of hard economics. They couldn’t afford to live in a house any longer. In the movie, McDormond’s character, Fern gets laid off from work after her husband dies, and she fills all the roles described in the book.

She joins Amazon’s Camperforce for a while. She works as a campground host, on the sugar beet harvest in Nebraska, and at Wall Drug in South Dakota. They all feature lots of low skilled, low pay, hard work. She lives in an old van that she refitted into living quarters. She makes friends with other nomads and learns the ins and outs of living on the road from them including a cool guy named Bob Wells. Wells plays himself in the movie.

There were a couple of other people who played themselves in the movie.

I think the movie is about the dignity and spirit of the people who live the lifestyle. Fern always does the best job she can no matter how crappy the work is. She takes it seriously and demands respect.

This isn’t a movie where everything is tied up in a bow at the end.

I recommend the film highly. Get it at the Red Box or stream it on Hulu. Get the book at the library.

Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

Jessica Bruder, a journalist, wrote Nomadland, a book about the (almost) hidden army of people who have decided for one reason or another to abandon permanent homes in favor of a life on the road. They don’t have real estate, they have “wheel estate.” they are not homeless, they are “houseless.” Many of them made this choice to follow a dream that doesn’t entail a house, maintenance, insurance, rent, and all the rest. I know a few of those people. Others made the choice because staying in a house or apartment did not add up. The type of arithmetic when you take your income and subtract food, medicine, insurance, other bills, and you don’t have enough for rent. They did it out of necessity. They are being squeezed out by the high cost of housing.

Where do they live? Many live in RV’s, new and old, travel trailers, truck campers. Some even live in their cars. Where do they park their vehicles? In RV parks, and on BLM and Forest Service land in the west. Walmart parking lots are popular, in commercial areas where their rigs blend in, public parks. Anywhere they are allowed to, and a few places where they are not. There are apps that guide them to free camping spots.

What do they do for money? Some live off their savings or in whatever jobs they can find. Thousands work for Amazon during the peak pre-Christmas season at their gigantic fulfillment centers. Amazon has a name for them, they are the Camperforce. Amazon loves them because of their work ethic and willingness to work for not very much money. Others work seasonally as camp hosts for National and State forests. They work the sugar beet harvest. All sorts of things.

Where do they go when they are not working. Thousands head to Quartzsite in southern Arizona where they boondock in the public lands surrounding town. The meet up in groups, learn the tricks and rules of the road from each other and enjoy the warm winters.

The author Jessica Bruder spent three years and researching this lifestyle. She even got her own van in order to embed even closer with them. You can tell she kind of fell in love with the lifestyle and the people. She tells the story with great empathy and insight.

I loved this book. And hey a movie is coming out starring Frances McDormand.