The Real Work is to Take Down the Fences

The task is to provide young people with support for their energy and visions, and space for them to open them into physical and social expression.


All young people have a need for space, both among the living and among their ancestors.

p2080007These ancestors include the earth, their fellow creatures upon it, and the spirit world.


Young people need space that is not already committed.


Elders need to be allowed to guide them into giving visions a living context.


Together, youth and elders work to erase lines of ownership that deny access. An example of a limiting line of ownership is the privatization of land and water; they control access to spaces of interchange.


Another example is public land with committed purposes not serving the young people of that space. These might even include parks, national forests, roads or dams.

Typically in these countries that sprawl across my land, roads lead to points of private ownership, or between them. Some of these private lands are public.


In space oriented to youth, lands alienated from the commons for one purpose must be returned to the commons when that purpose fails, or when it ends. Returned land must be in the original state of the commons. When it isn’t, compensation must be made.


Youth have a right to guidance by their elders. Elders have a right to guide youth. Both have a duty to support each other. Both are their ancestors singing.


For example, tribal lands stripped of aboriginal ownership do not revert to national forests when they prove unsuitable for agricultural settlement; common lands removed from common wealth for agricultural purposes do not revert to housing development when the agriculture proves to have been a bad idea or draws down the wealth of the land until tillage or pasturage becomes untenable. It must return to the people from whom it was removed, with compensation for its degraded state.

This compensation does not have to be monetary. There are many forms of currency.


True elders build new series of common governments or common access, to create space for the fundamental right of young people: movement.


The act of creating space can be the act of creating common social space.


At the moment, agricultural land is managed for profit, efficiency and lack of labour input. 1000 boxes of apples instead of 2000 on the same water, for instance, with less employment, for more expensive food, for people who, lacking work, cannot purchase it.


Food is not an export product. Work and food are rights drawn from common resources. The youth are the land. They have rights to this work. It is theirs.



Elders have rights to support youth with appropriate labour in place.


The mechanical replacement of labour should be taxed if it replaces more labour onsite than it creates. The creation of labour in another area, or the replacement of the labour of water, should be taxed to maintain the primary relationships of labour and youth, and labour and land. For example, the 60% of water that evaporates by being moved to the valley floors of the northern Syilx Illahie, should be compensated.


Similarly, underused land should be made available to youth with the vision and labour to work it.


The task is to replace land ownership with land stewardship.


Past and present infractions of the commons should be held to account, as a replacement of the current system, in which infractions of private rights are punished.


Infractions of the capacity for stewardship are the true infractions against the commons and its people.


Indigenous people, currently fenced by Indian Reservations, should be supported to build stewardship plans for lands and work outside of their reservations and to become stewards over commons.


Currently common lands are industrialized by government, or are turned into recreational spaces by it. Both are forms of privatization. Like Indian Reserves, both are forms of fences.


Incomers to environments should continue to pay infrastructure fees, to compensate existing communities for the costs of their immigration. To these, should be added commons fees to compensate the commons for the added load.


If the load cannot be compensated, the right of habitation should be limitted to time frames, conditions or specific locations that can bear the load.


At all times, the effort is to increase the capacity of common land, instead of drawing it down. Turning ancestral space into monocultures is a form of drawing it down. It is a killing of the dead.


To kill the dead is to kill our youth.


Movement is life. Every effort must be undertaken to mitigate and even erase borders that constrict it. Singing is a form of movement. Poetry is a form of government.


If education supports concentrations of urban intellectual capital rather than its dispersal to the commons, it should be taxed. Distributing its products is trade. The two activities should not be confused any longer.


The desire is not to create hubs of industry but networks of care. A land without people is the clearance of people from land. This includes the turning of land into property.


A series of wilderness access points should be created, with support for access to people who can create visions to extend the interweaving of people with space.




Those forms of nationalist intervention that support the nation state over the historical nation must be erased.


Education must work to build common life, rather than to extend a self-declared common individuality and the boundaries of force, both physical and intellectual, by which it is maintained.


Plant materials cannot be privatized.


Stewardship, of the commons, with profit drawn as a share of the increased wealth or health of the commons which it has created, can be granted.


Current models of education train youth to access common settler space, nation space or global  space. Common space is any other sense is considered personal. It is not.


Let us give it to the young: to act, to speak, to be heard, and  to be followed as youth stewards, but not as owners.


You cannot own the earth. No man or woman has the right to grant ownership.



Talking space is common space. Artists weave common knowledge with individual experience so they are one.


This unity is youth.


Cities built out of the energy of natural systems which have not returned that energy to the natural systems have a debt to it which must be repaid: through  efficient gardening, greenways, fishways, and even in planning offices — that administer real benefits for natural systems.


Ultimately debt must be repaid.



It is time.


Urban footprints can be huge: Toronto living off the North; Vancouver living off of all of the land west of the Rocky Mountains, and so on. These lands have been emptied of people by these privatized cities.


Nature is a form of human clearance.


It is a poor replacement for living space.



Right now Vancouver ships its garbage across the mountains to Secwepemc lands on the Cariboo Plateau. That is not a repayment of debt. That is a transferal of a portion of the debt to those who subsidized the profit in the first place. It is garbage.


The degradation of the grasslands and their replacement with monocultures or weed cultures is the same.


Their replacement with ingrown forests maintained by fire suppression is the same.


Increased ecological wealth is the principle. Its harvesters are youth.


Elders plant space.



They are on their way to becoming ancestors.


Everyone is at home through giving.


Taking and selling come at a price.


It is possible to live instead.


That is the task we learn from our teachers, who came before us and are here to guide us.


It is time to call things by their proper names.


It is time to speak them in their own language.


It is time to listen and then to let life speak for us all.


This is the real work.



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