a call for common land for nomads

A few weeks ago I saw this article http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/our-parks-awash-with-freeloading-backpackers/story-fnjbnts7-1227197443051 and immediately thought: “wicked, I’ve been wanting to have a discussion about this for ages!”

NB: I originally posted this in my lateral drifts blog where I drop down random thoughts as I’m mulling them over. This one turned out detailed enough to just transcribe here. Please feel free to comment/share, I’d really love a big chat around all these issues, especially if you’ve got good suggestions for better ways of living a nomadic life (and free park ups which don’t piss anyone off and aren’t illegal – there are very few of them these days). And if you fancy joining the ‘Common Land‘ cause, get in touch!

So… nomads. Are we “freeloaders” or cultural explorers? The case for nomadicy…

first: not all of humanity wants to live in a corporate world. we don’t all want the threat of a mortgage hanging over our heads (in fact very few even can get such things without rich parents taking up the slack). we also don’t want/can’t afford to live in holiday parks – sure some of these are holiday travellers, but some of us are fulltime nomads. we need access to free camps, common land, which we use in return for taking responsibility for them (because we do actually care about the environment, that’s one of the reasons we choose to live this life, off-grid and self-sustaining).

as mentioned in the article, most of us choose parkups that are away from residential areas so we won’t bother anyone, but even they are becoming privatised. and yes, we do congregate sometimes when we’re travelling round – who doesn’t want a social life? why should that social life exist in pubs and clubs? some of us don’t drink and are far from interested in yet another commercialised environment.

when gathering we all learn from each others’ bus/van designs, share good places to park (which don’t piss anyone off and aren’t illegal) and generally learn more about the world through the eyes of other open-minded cultural explorers. it’s the absolute best way to see this incredible country!

#homeJames has a doppleganger!

second: public toilets get locked up around 7pm in Australia. sure it’s horrid when someone craps on your doorstep (and personally I can control my bowels so I don’t have to do this unless I’m out bush, in which case I have a shovel for that!), but if the toilets weren’t locked overnight this wouldn’t have to happen. also bear in mind that this might not always be the campers – when I lived in Sydney there was an old homeless woman (clearly ignored by any welfare/care system) who used to crap in my porch on a regular basis. and we all know about men relieving themselves in doorways – or anywhere they like! it’s not just nomads who do this, some people are just jerks.

third: it makes me really mad when I see ANYONE littering. we all have a responsibility to our/other people’s environments as well as the planet itself. littering is lazy and thoughtless (whether it’s rubbish or cigarette butts, in fact especially cig butts considering their fire risk and chemical waste). but I’ll bet you have a crappy neighbour who has piles of junk outside their homes or lets their rubbish blow all over the roads. i regularly see drivers/walkers throw butts/rubbish onto streets/pavements: again, it’s not just nomads who litter, some people are just jerks.

in fact at a lot of the places where I parkup by the sea, it’s the fishermen who leave junk (beer bottles, food packaging and even hooks) behind them. providing more bins isn’t always the answer either. I’ve known part-timers complain about there not being a bin at an overnight roadside stop, FFS just take it with you and throw it away (in recycling bins) in town! or better still, reduce your use of packaging entirely so your waste is minimal!

fourth: ‘wearing their underwear’… really?! this is Australia, the whole damn country wears its underwear (aka ‘bikinis and budgie smugglers’) every damn day!! so, yet again, it’s not just nomads who do this!

fifth: washing/brushing teeth – we all have to keep ourselves hygienic. spitting toothpaste or soapy water (onto grass, not pavements) is less of an issue for me when those products aren’t full of chemicals. I use Eco or natural alternatives – I brush my teeth with coconut oil most of the time. water evaporates (or in fact adds moisture to dry ground) and even businessmen spit much worse stuff from their mouths walking down city streets. so, again, it’s not just nomads who do this!

sixth: hanging laundry from trees – I handwash or use a launderette washer then hang my clothes up in the bus (in this heat they dry v quickly) but then I have a reasonably sized vehicle. I’ve seen families at public parks hanging their own tea towels etc up on makeshift lines. what’s the harm in that? and again, not just nomads…

slide I used for a talk recently,  quoting https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/take-back-the-economy

slide I used for a talk recently, quoting https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/take-back-the-economy

so, by all means dismiss us by calling us names like ‘freeloaders’ but be aware that  some humans are jerks regardless of their choice of home or lifestyle; don’t just tarnish us all with the same brush. maybe try to talk to us instead of reporting us to council/police – we’re actually quite personable folk and we’d certainly enjoy an open discussion (no one takes kindly to threats or abuse, so ideally don’t start with that). maybe we could even change each others’ stereotype projections and learn to accept otherness a little more, that wouldn’t do our society much harm, now would it?

bear in mind a nomadic life is not always easy, and it’s certainly not always a holiday for those of us who live this way all year round. we have made this choice, sacrificing ‘the easy life’ because we believe in a better world, one that is not driven by consumerism or the daily commute to provide profit to our bosses’ shareholders. some of us do work in ‘normal’ jobs but most are freelance – and we all pay our taxes like regular folk. some of us aren’t even on the dole! (I know, *gasp*).

and FFS… GIVE US ACCESS TO COMMON LAND! not every single block of our existence needs to be commercialised. if you just give us a place where we can do our thing, we’ll be out of your hair!