Corporate and/or government control of land often lends itself to abuse–one need only look at the hideous strip malls, huge boulevards convoluting what was or could have been a pleasant street into a forbidding and noisy thoroughfare built for nothing but motor vehicles, or at cookie-cutter housing projects with houses built barely 5 feet apart converting previously beautiful arable landscapes into ugly, land-starved, life-denying cells. Similarly, a glance at the BLM and the history of land grants, how the native Americans were shoved off their ancestral lands, mining and logging “rights” that have been exploited, HUD’s dismal sub-standard public housing, etc. reveals government’s failures at protecting nature and preserving or creating habitable neighborhoods and cities.
In contrast, a wonderful thing is happening in some very depressed communities, like Detroit, where the people are claiming the land from abandoned properties in order to grow their own food, a very direct solution to not only urban blight but food deserts, one that needs no bureaucratic or corporate involvement, and one that increases sustainability in a very democratic manner and also decreases pollution. Everyone who knows anything about real estate understands that the best way to increase the value of property is to improve the landscaping, and every human being responds positively to the beauty and serenity of nature, even those who practice environmental destruction. You don’t see the CEOs of polluting corporations hanging out in their off time at a nuclear power plant, a copper mine, or a denuded forest–they are on their yachts on the glittering ocean, skiing down a gorgeous mountain slope, or at least on a golf course surrounded by grass, shrubs, water, and trees. Everyone appreciates plants and trees and feels better when in their company, with their life-giving oxygenation, without which we could not survive; when those plants and trees provide nutritious food, their value is potentiated even further, beyond their inestimable intrinsic worth.
There are a lot of direct actions we citizens can take to reclaim the land and utilize our natural environment to beautify and support life: in addition to re-purposing abandoned properties for growing vegetables to feed yourself and members of your community, working locally on establishing community gardens and planting fruit-bearing trees, both in your own yard and in city parks and along city streets, is another way to ensure there is land to cultivate to help grow the natural environment. Also, doing away with corporate “personhood” will allow for citizens to take back the power to outlaw the excesses of the corporate world that impinge on our lives in a multitude of ways including housing, city planning, zoning laws, and land use. We can exercise all of these options to enhance our lives and reclaim the land by growing the natural world.