Signs of Progress

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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6 Responses

  1. Avatar Roger says:

    I can’t get used to the idea in Illinois that Lake Michigan beaches are not open to the public. A common practice is for cities or communities to make them only available to residents, and to prohibit or charge ($10 or $20 per person) for access to the undesirables from outside the Gold Coast community.

    I guess I am a socialist too.Report

  2. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I always liked Oregon’s approach – the coast line is one giant state park.Report

  3. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    No-signs worked great when everyone just assumed that there was a certain standard of behavior people should meet in public. Once people decided that the proper response to “hey don’t do that” was “show me the law that says I can’t”, no-signs stopped working quite so well.

    And, y’know, some of the things you weren’t supposed to do were “being black” or “being poor” or “being homosexual”, so maybe it’s not entirely a bad thing that the unspoken rules were replaced by spoken ones.Report

  4. Why isn’t this post titled “Get off My Condo Lawn”?Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    Oy. Private Property Rights, meaning land, is a fraught topic.

    Personally, I don’t think it typically embraces ethics of stewardship enough, though self-interest does buttress better stewardship.

    I live in Maine, where there is a unique-to-the-nation concept of private property; unless it’s posted, you are free to go on private property that’s not developed, but you are responsible for any damage you do and assume all liability for any harm you suffer, within limited bounds. So if you slip on a rock wall people regularly climb, for instance, you cannot sue the landowner just because the landowner hasn’t posted the wall saying ‘no climbing.’ You do it at your own risk. This has been essential to the Maine economy; it allows both private wealth to develop from land and public use, the backbone of our tourist economy. It’s a wonderful thing. Right up to the 3,000 miles of Maine coast, and it all goes hay wire, because the coast is mostly posted no-trespassing, all but about 60 or so miles of public coast line, and that posting extends down to the high-water line.

    Even here, where there is so little ocean-frontage available for public access, there’s something worthwhile; if the considerations expand beyond the best benefit of humans and encompasses the best benefit overall; humans are hard on land; the more concentrated they are on the land, the more the abuse it. So the rich landowners, in protecting their coastal views and private beaches, also protect the coast line from the degradations of human encroachment.

    What I see here is that the best results come from comprehensive corridors and trail systems that are maintained and published. Snowmobile trails, hiking trails, biking trails, canoe and kayak trails here all cross private land, are maintained and mapped, and result in a gain for everyone involved. I wish the concept would expand to include bio-diversity corridors, but that’s a very complex set of problems that would result in what people perceive as a huge impingement on their private property rights, rules to not eliminate the milkweed from their lawns, for instance, so the monarchs can migrate with ample food supply.

    For those condo beaches, right now, there’s no pressing need to jack up enforcement. I can imagine many scenarios where such a need would, in the eyes of the condo owners, arise and start something of a beach war; these things are quite common here in Maine where the public access is so limited. Recently, a path used to the beach by a neighborhood just off the water for decades was closed by a new owner. The neighborhood, in the end, lost access, and the community suffered greatly. Less than a half-mile away, is a public beach where dog owners were doing their damage with dog poo. An effort to ban dogs resulted in organizing the dog owners into stewards, maintaining the beach so that they could maintain it as a place to take their dogs to run and play; and there’s a real sense of growing community as a result.

    I am not comfortable with the notion that community and communism are the same thing, either. It’s a subconscious suggestion that there’s something wrong with working together, the poison in the well of any and all government.Report

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