Summary of "This Land Is Our Land" by Ken Ilgunas
His thesis, the United States has too much private property in the hands of too few and those owners typically forbid nature lover’s free movement to camp and roam. Government should intervene, he posits, to open this private land. Ilgunas is the author of “This Land Is Our Land: How We Lost the Right to Roam and How to Take It Back.” He is the author of two memoirs, “Walden on Wheels,” and “Trespassing Across America.” This book is an expansion and deepening of “Trespassing.” The land was once ownerless, writes Ilgunas, and even what was owned could, without impediment, be crossed. The land of North America belonged to no one and everyone. He wrote about walking the proposed route for the Keystone Pipeline in “Trespassing”; it was that experience that compelled him to write “This Land.”
Ken Ilgunas, lifelong traveler, hitchhiker, and roamer, takes readers back to the nineteenth century, when Americans were allowed to journey undisturbed across the country. Today, though, America finds itself as an outlier in the Western world as a number of European countries have created sophisticated legal systems that protect landowners and give citizens generous roaming rights to their countries' green spaces. Inspired by the United States' history of roaming, and taking guidance from present-day Europe, Ilgunas calls into question our entrenched understanding of private property and provocatively proposes something unheard of: opening up American private property for public recreation. He imagines a future in which folks everywhere will have the right to walk safely, explore freely, and roam boldly--from California to the New York island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters.
Then, at a later date, once we’ve all calmed down, once the idea has had time to slowly and more gently seep in the collective consciousness, maybe we can begin an earnest debate about the right to roam.