This Land Is Our Land, updated research
One of the unpleasant realities of traditional book-making is that authors don’t get a chance to edit their finished work unless they’re lucky enough to get a second edition. At present, none of my books have second editions. (I am, however, able to easily edit my two self-published e-books, at least the e-versions of them.) I’ve come across some juicy research lately that would’ve helped me make a stronger argument in my book, This Land Is Our Land, which critically examines modern-day private property and calls for an American right to roam. 1. For starters, NYT published a lovely piece about land ownership in the West, where Texas billionaires are purchasing huge parcels of land and closing off historic public access points. I discuss this at length in my book, but the author of this piece did some admirable reporting that shows just who these landowners are.
2. As I discussed in my last blog post, NYT also published an Op-Ed about how much land has been taken from black people (11 million acres). African Americans own and have access to very little private land. (Minorities own only 3 percent of agricultural land despite making up more than a third of the U.S. population.) These numbers add legitimacy to the claim that a lot of land in the U.S. has been acquired through fraud, deception, and theft. Therefore, landowners, I’d argue, shouldn’t have as much power as they do, especially with regard to their right to exclude. I argue in my book that a “right to roam” is one small but significant way to correct historic wrongs, as it has in Scotland.
3. Mike Huckabee and a bunch of rich people in Florida are trying to turn public beaches private. Stories like these can help illustrate the problem and appall readers.
4. I was once told by a smart person that gated communities are now the most common type of housing development being built in the U.S. Through my research, I could not confirm that statement, but I did learn that gated communities are indeed being developed at a rate never seen before. This troubles me for all the reasons you might expect. From the linked article:
Across the United States, more than 10 million housing units are in gated communities, where access is ‘secured with walls or fences,’ according to 2009 Census Bureau data. Roughly 10 percent of the occupied homes in this country are in gated communities, though that figure is misleadingly low because it doesn’t include temporarily vacant homes or second homes. Between 2001 and 2009, the United States saw a 53 percent growth in occupied housing units nestled in gated communities.
I’m writing this blog post, in part, to create a list of updates I’d like to add if I’m ever so lucky to get a second edition.