Thomas Rupert ended his post, “Regaining the Commons and the Dialectic on the Private,” with this:
Sea-level rise and its challenges provoke us to reclaim our right, indeed our need, for a constant dialogue about the meaning of property.
Thomas connected the definition of property, and in particular “private property,” with our Rising Waters Confab by reflecting on the fact that a lot of private property will disappear in the coming decades. When this happens, he asks, Who pays and why? Who pays to protect that property as long as possible? Is it fair to ask everyone, even people who don’t have property (that is, all taxpayers), to bear the cost of choices individuals make about where they live?
Some of my own re-thinking about notions of property come from an exploration of the commons – where we find and how we strengthen the commons in our lives today. Recently, I’ve been reading Think Like a Commoner: A short introduction to the life of the commons, by David Bollier. A chapter, “The Empire of Private Property,” begins by imagining one scenario for the way people might use deck chairs on an ocean liner. The “allegory of the deck chairs” suggests that the notion of “property” is more malleable than many of us suspect.