Thursday, April 17, 2014

O ~ "Open Space" vs. Allemansrätt #atozchallenge


All Aboard! "It's Very Swedish..." a train on a cultural journey through Sweden, exploring the differences big and small between American and Swedish culture.

***
I had not heard of the concept of "open space" until we moved to Colorado in 1983. We lived on the East Coast where one city bleeds into another with no space in between. Trees line the roads so you can't see very far. The sky is hazy with humidity.  It feels crowded, only you don't know that until you move to CO and can see forever.

That was my first impression.  Wow, I can see.  There's nothing blocking my view.  I can see the horizon.  I can see THE MOUNTAINS. Oh my gosh, I live in a postcard.  It was browner and drier than I had expected, but the view went on forever, the sky was right there, and usually blue, maybe a few puffs of cloud.  Bliss.

As I became an adult, I noticed signs.  "This Open Space bought with..."  "This is a designated Open Space, no trespassing." Um, what does open mean? Closed I guess...



Compare this to Sweden, as well as other European countries where there's a law called allemansrätt which directly translates "everyman'sright".  In Sweden, you may go ANYWHERE, including private property.  You may pick your berries, or your mushrooms ("very Swedish" activities still today).  You may tarry.  You may set up your tent.

You may pull over to the side of the road ANYWHERE and have a picnic.  You don't have to look for a designated "picnic area" with the sign with the table.  Nor do you need to worry about the sign with the table and a big, red X over it.  Find a spot, lay out your blanket, or set up your folding table and chairs.  Enjoy.

If you'd like to stay there and camp, have at it.  None of those, "No overnight parking.  No camping.  Area closes at dusk" signs.

I remember Farfar telling me about this amazing right on a summer visit, and being just astounded. However, I remembered it as any public land.  When I did my research and talked to the Swede, it's much more than that.  It's "anywhere."  So you will not find a "No Trespassing" or  "Private Property Keep Out Sign" in Sweden.  I think that's wonderful.

Sounds rather welcoming, doesn't it?  What are the laws/norms in your country?  Ever heard of this? Does your state buy "open space" and not let you into it?

~Tina, really wondering about my adopted country's policies today...

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Amanda Lee of House Revivals

20 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina .. we have the system of common land where there is a right to roam; do not trespass signs on private property abound; our homes and gardens are private spaces, there are parks where we may go eg during daylight hours, then the gates are locked; we must camp in designated areas, we can in places set up over night .. but it's not usual.

Generally those accepted norms and 'rules' apply ... I think I've got it right ... essentially we don't want people moving in and setting up home where the 'standards' aren't maintained.

So yes I envy the Swedish system .. but the vistas in the States are fabulous to see .. cheers Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

While rules of the road - the no overnight parking - could go, I still wouldn't want people wandering onto my property. Attitudes are different here though - when it's not your own property, trash it. (Just look at public bathrooms.)
There is a big difference between living out west and on the east coast. Arizona was like that. My backyard was the open desert.

helenjameson said...

Don't get me started on open range which is currently being challenged in the US. I love the Swedish of 'open space.' Much more relaxed and friendly. Just stopping by on my A to Z journey!

zenkatwrites.com said...

Enjoyed the thinking here. I like the idea of Allemansrätt and wonder how it would work here in the USA. Maybe Swedes are more polite and clean? I know that beaches are trashed every night by visitors, rarely locals, who know the ocean doesn't do your laundry and the cans come back the next day somewhere else. I have also had hunters with guns park their tent within 50 feet of my front door and because I had no sign up the sheriff would not move them. Also, the whole idea of guns may be part of our problems. Made me think!

klahanie said...

Hi Tina,

You breathe in the sights. The majesty of the mountains. You are in awe. Then you note those places that are not so open to the public.

And thus, where I live in England, I can, with quiet respect, wander along the public footpaths. Through farmer's fields in this green and pleasant land. A crowded land and yet, the freedom to roam and let the heart soar.

Be well, dear Tina.

Gary :)

Laura Clipson said...

That does sound welcoming. We're probably about half and half here in the UK - we can't go on private property, but we can have picnics wherever we want.

Lisa Moles said...

I live in texas these days and there are lots of wide open spaces. Most belong to someone and Texans seem fond of their privacy, so I wouldn't venture onto someone else's land. But right now the blue bonnets are in bloom and people are stopping wherever they are blooming for pictures - it's a tradition.

Stepheny Houghtllin said...

Blog hopping today, the 17th day of the #atozchallenge. Congratulations on your blog. If you have time or interest, I'm writing about gardening and related topics this month. Come visit.

Andrew Leon said...

I'm sure some of that has to do with old homestead laws, many of which are still in effect.
For instance, in most places in the US, if I, say, pitch a tent in your backyard and you know I'm there and let me do it, and you keep letting me do it, after an arbitrary length of time (5 years, most places, I think), you -can't- kick me out. That bit of property has become mine. I own it and you don't.

S.K. Anthony said...

Yeah.....NO! I'm in NY, no one is allowed on any open space if they don't want to be reported or confronted or something. (Not very trusty over here lol)

DAVID WALSTON said...

Very interesting!
I don't even like to camp in the backyard, so you count on me not going on the side of the road!

CA Heaven said...

The "everyman's right", allemannsretten, is one of the thing I love about the Nordic countries. This law is made to make life easy for hikers and skiers, but it's not without restrictions. You can go everywhere in the forests and mountains, and on farmland in the winter when it's covered by snow, but not in summer when there's crop and feeding animals. And you can not go in people's gardens and backyards.

You can pick berries and mushrooms, but you can't catch the trout in the rivers or shoot the game in the forest. To fish and hunt, you need to by a license from the landowner (often it's state property). The fishing licenses are usually cheap. I don't hunt, so don't know about that.

You can put up your tent in the forest for a night, but not for a month (I think the maximum stay is 3 days). Very convenient for hikers >:)

Cold As Heaven

LD Masterson said...

It sounds lovely, until I imagine walking out my front door in the morning and finding campers have set up tents in my front yard, then not so much.

loverofwords said...

Beach rules are different. In California, I think that for every X number of feet of beach, you have to make X number of feet available for the public. But here, people tend to be very protective of their property. And I don't think people are as respectful of other's property, witness letting dogs poop anywhere and not picking it up.

Kathe W. said...

Oh my goodness- Colorado is so beautiful- I've actually been to Longmont as my brother lived in Berthoud and I have friends in Boulder ( shhh they think they are the only ones here... )All kidding aside- Colorado is so gorgeous.
Now my 'tude about public land vs private land:
If Americans would just treat all land with respect to having all land available to the public would be grand. However- we have citizens here in this country who don't treat the land with respect. They litter, despoil and shoot animals for "fun" not to put meat on the table. And THAT is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a reason I have No Hunting and No Trespassing signs posted on our 10 acres. It's a shame really.

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

The beaches are open to everyone here. There are designated "beach walks" to get to the beach where hotels or rich folks have taken up large areas of beachfront property. However, it is not legal to sleep on the beach, in the park, or on a bus stop bench.
Gail visiting for AtoZ

Jo said...

I'm not sure what the laws are in Canada. I am pretty sure people cannot pitch a tent in your yard, and we do have camping sites and so on - I guess it is much the same as the States. But it is nice to have the wide open spaces to look at even if one can't park there for any length of time.

JoJo said...

I think we have so many restrictions because Americans are selfish and destructive.

bemuzin.com said...

The Swedish way is intriguing, but I DO like our open space policies here in U.S. I haven't noticed very much "open" space being closed to public use, but if it is, it could be for conservation restoration, grazing rights have been leased, or because some other space nearby is readily available. I'm not sure.

We tend to not pick up after ourselves (except for those who are truly back country hikers and packers) so I think the funds to maintain public spaces might be cost prohibitive or they'd rapidly become eyesores. We use open space all the time in Colorado for hiking, biking and enjoying that big blue sky you talk about.

amanda lee said...

While I love the everyman's right concept for public property, I am a huge supporter of our private property rights in the US. We scrimp and save and sacrifice to buy land and improve it and we pay yearly taxes to protect it. With our Canadian properties, our rights are similar, but we have a lot of problems with hunters coming on the land without permission -- it's a safety concern with children and pets.
Plus, the hunters field strip the animals, leaving all the entrails and parts they don't want right in people's yards. Why they feel like they should do this on private property instead of on the queen's land right. next. door. is beyond me. At our US beach property, a lot of my neighbors have issues with campers trespassing -- this is worst during motorcycle week. As much as we all love waking up to drunk campers urinating and defecating in our yards at 2 AM, I would call the police and have them removed. I think it is easy to jump on board the everyman's right train -- until the campers are in your own yard, that you save and sacrifice to buy and maintain and pay taxes on. Not only will the campers trash it and trample it, if they hurt themselves while trespassing on your land, they just might sue you, so no, they are not welcome. In the US, at least, our forefathers died for our right to keep private property -- they felt it was so important, they included the right in our fifth amendment. Our right to private property is right up there with our right to defend ourselves and our right to free speech and our freedom of religion and our rights against search and seizure, and so on. We must fiercely protect these rights, or we will lose them.