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About Land In Common

"What I stand for is what I stand on." - Wendell Berry

Founded in 2008 as the Clark Mountain Community Land Trust, Land In Common is dedicated to fostering social, ecological and economic responsibility in Maine and beyond. Our vision is to support a growing community of people who value cooperation rather than competition, mutual care and solidarity instead of isolation and alienation, and ecological responsibility in place of ecological devastation. As a democratically-run community land trust (CLT) organization, we aim to foster these values by placing land and resources directly into the hands of our membership community.

We began in 2008 as a local community land trust dedicated to holding and protecting land of the JED Collective (now Wild Mountain Cooperative), and have built our structures and visions carefully and deliberately over the past ten years. Changing our name to Land in Common marks a new moment in our history: we are ready to launch into a new phase of work, expanding beyond our original home to serve a wider set of communities across Maine.

Next Steps

People have understood for thousands of years that land -- its soil and water-- is the basis of life, sustenance, community and culture. It is the source of the earthly gifts upon which we build our lives, our families, our communities, our homes, and our dreams. To the Land In Common community land trust, there is nothing more precious than this common heritage.

Yet we live in a culture and economy that have systematically turned land into a commodity; a thing to be bought and sold, purchased for speculation, traded for profit, used up and discarded. Now, access to land (as well as access to food, housing and health care) is mediated by money instead of by community. Those who cannot afford land are locked out, remaining landless, generation after generation.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Land can be cared for in common by communities of people rooted in their places and responsible to their habitats. Land, water, air, and biodiversity can be shared by all beings, big and small. We ask: what would it look like to reclaim our  common heritage? And how can we do this collectively and democratically?

Land In Common is already hard at work answering these questions. To build a healthier world, to prepare for an uncertain future, and to truly care for each other and our places, we need to work hard together. We invites you to join with others in our organization as we enact and create new ways of owning, sharing and caring for Maine’s land.

Consider this: Maine is peppered with people who own land, hold and practice values of social, economic and environmental justice, and who are getting ready to pass this land on. Over the next five to twenty years, thousands of acres owned by these activists, farmers, and cultural workers will change hands. At the same time, there is a growing number of people who are dedicating their lives to the work of social change and who understand the importance of rooting social movements in land-based projects and communities. We must build connections between these two groups.  

Land in the hands of people working for social, economic and ecological justice is a tremendous source of grassroots power. It creates new spaces for people to gather, develop and grow. It enables us to provide for our own needs, and to build more local, resilient and community-based economies. It reduces our dependency on the economic growth machine and frees our imaginations to seek something different. It binds us to our places and to our habitats, so that the health of the land becomes a measure of our own health. It enables the regeneration of community, and developing rooted cultures of cooperation, freedom, creativity and hope.

We need to imagine and create new ways of owning, sharing and caring for the places which sustain us. We need to develop processes that change the current distribution of land, that make land accessible to those who have been excluded from its boundaries, and that place more and more land in the hands of people and communities who are dedicated to building cooperative forms of land-care.

Our long term vision is to provide land and organizational support to diverse and inspiring projects throughout the state of Maine. Instead of remaining a commodity, Land In Common property becomes part of a multi-generational land base for social movements, placing the stewardship of this land into the hands of people who are enacting values of cooperation, mutual care and ecological responsibility.

Given a clear and sustainable structure through which to do it, can we develop a structure that allows land currently in the hands of people working for social change to remain in the hands of such people? To be passed on through activist networks to others who will continue the work? Imagine creating a mechanism by which each generation of land-based activists could actually build upon what came before them, rather than having to re-invent the wheel every 50 years. Imagine a structure that would foster a truly multi-generational land-based movement, in which elders could pass on their work, and in which young people, in turn, could honor and support their elders. The possiblities are tremendous.

This is the project of Land In Common. We seek to spark a process of intergenerational land transfer across the state of Maine; to develop a durable, state-wide, democratically-run cooperative structure through which this land can be cared for and shared; and to create a process by which the ownership of land is collective and cooperative, while its long-term stewardship and care is in the hands of those who live on it.

We see our work as part of a much larger effort—of which many people and organizations are a part—to imagine and create more equitable, caring and cooperative ways of creating our livelihoods, living together, and enacting solidarity with communities of people (human and more-than-human) around the world who struggle for their own forms of dignity, freedom and care. We would like for you to be a part of this exciting journey with us!

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