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Is private ownership an inviolate right that individuals can wield as they see fit? Or is it better understood in more collective terms, as an institution that communities reshape over time to promote evolving goals? What should it mean to be a private landowner in an age of sprawling growth and declining biological diversity? These provocative questions lie at the heart of this perceptive and wide-ranging new book by legal scholar and conservationist Eric Freyfogle. Bringing together insights from history, law, philosophy, and ecology, Freyfogle undertakes a fascinating inquiry into the ownership of nature, leading us behind publicized and contentious disputes over open-space regulation, wetlands protection, and wildlife habitat to reveal the foundations of and changing ideas about private ownership in America. Drawing upon ideas from Thomas Jefferson, Henry George, and Aldo Leopold and interweaving engaging accounts of actual disputes over land-use issues, Freyfogle develops a powerful vision of what private ownership in America could mean—an ownership system, fair to owners and taxpayers alike, that fosters healthy land and healthy economies.
Property is more diverse than is usually assumed. Developing the concept of property diversity, this book explores the varied role of property in placed human landscapes. In acknowledging the propertied diversity about us, the book highlights the paucity of our settled contemporary assumptions of property as defined by private ownership. Challenging this universalizing model, the book analyses how this self-limiting view produces critical blind spots in modern property discourse. In response, it offers a re-conceptualization of property that matches the grounded reality of our rich and diverse relationships with land. Integrating the plurality of real property types (private, public and common) with inclusive understandings of both interest and ownership, it thus identifies and substantiates an overarching theory of property diversity. Drawing on studies from numerous jurisdictions, including the USA, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK, its analysis of property as something more – and indeed other – than a place-less abstraction provides an invaluable contribution to the contemporary law and theory of property.
When it comes to urban planning, to what extent and under what conditions should the community’s interest prevail over the rights of private property owners? Public Interest, Private Property addresses this question at a time when pollution, urban sprawl, and condo booms are forcing municipal governments to adopt prescriptive laws and regulations. Case studies focus on spheres in which public values and private property rights collide – expropriation law, natural resources regulation, green development, and water provision – laying the groundwork for more active debates on the issues currently shaping our cities.
Leopold's last talk -- The love of Wendell Berry -- Impressionism and David Orr -- The cosmos and Pope Francis -- Taking property seriously -- Wilderness and culture -- Naming the tragedy -- Conclusion: thinking, talking, and culture
A fresh legal argument on what it means to own land, navigating issues of eminent domain, sprawl, and conservation Private property poses a great dilemma in American culture. We revere the institution and are quick to protect private-property rights, yet we are troubled when landowners cause harm to their neighbors and communities, especially when new development fuels sprawl and degrades the environment. Recent Supreme Court cases and new state laws around eminent domain have generated great controversy, and yet many people are unsure where they stand on this issue. In this wide-ranging inquiry, law professor Eric Freyfogle explores the inner workings of the familiar but poorly understood institution of private property. He identifies the three threats it currently faces: government mismanagement, the recently reinvigorated property rights movement, and conservation groups’ efforts to buy tracts of land in order to protect them. He then offers a solution in the middle ground between the extreme sides of these debates. In On Private Property, Freyfogle gives glimpses of landownership’s surprising past, revealing its complex links to liberty and ultimately showing why private property rights must remain consistent with a community’s overall good. In conclusion, Freyfogle constructs piece by piece a provocative new vision of landownership, at once respectful of private interests yet responsive to communal needs. “Freyfogle's new book, which probably should have been titled "Roll Over, John Locke," is just what the public debate over property rights needs. Straight talk, and an invitation to open a conversation about the real issues.” —Joseph L. Sax, author of Playing Darts with a Rembrandt: Public and Private Rights in Cultural Treasures “A fresh perspective and penetrating legal and historical analysis of an issue that will continue to be in the forefront of land policy in the 21st century.” —Anthony Flint, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, author of This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America “In a work that eschews easy slogans, Eric Freyfogle proves the truth about American property rights—that original intent, early court opinions, and the realities of modern society all mandate that ownership brings with it weighty but reasonable responsibilities to the larger community. This beautifully-articulated book, at once bold and thoughtful, is bound to become a classic in American constitutional and property law.” —Charles Wilkinson, Distinguished University Professor and Moses Lasky Professor of Law at the University of Colorado and author of Crossing the Next Meridian: Land, Water, and the Future of the West
The economic crash of late 2008 is just the latest evidence of the truth that many have known for so long: that too much of our modern economy is based on a house of cards. We need businesses that not only factor their impact on people and places into their equations for success but also strive to restore the communities and environments in which they operate. How can this be done? In Living Above the Store, Martin Melaver provides a roadmap for creating such a business. It's not only a "how to" but a "why to" that challenges business as usual to change. Living Above the Store brings us into the story of Melaver, Inc., a third-generation, 70-year-old family real estate business, as it evolves toward becoming a thought and product leader in sustainable business practices. It is part business management theory and part case study, where sustainable principles meet sustainable practices, always grounded in day-to-day practice. Living Above the Store demonstrates how to: Adopt a business model that provides for economic success while contributing to society and the environment Shape a business culture that is restorative to a workforce by helping employees realize their highest potential Leverage an ethos within a business that "ripples outward" to foster restoration of both land and community Embrace a notion of limits to growth Reframe ideas about competition, proprietary knowledge, and business success, Living Above the Store is for readers who care about issues of community and sustainability as well as for those who want to learn more about how a socially responsible business can first redefine, and then find, success.

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