By Michelle Koppel: I think the Native Americans had it about right — the land does not belong to anybody.
The list of foreclosures keeps on increasing. The price of houses is going down. The amount of first time homebuyers is going up and investors are jumping on the deals.
I am a realtor showing homes for sale to all of the above. Almost every deal involves a bank for approval of a short sale or the sale of a foreclosed property. Every day I see homes that were lost to families like you and me. I see the carpets pulled up, faucets cut, walls punched in, as the previous homeowner lashes out in frustration at their impending loss. I see a flurry of survivalist competition for the remaining jobs and apathy from those unaffected. Can we continue in this separatist society to ignore the plight of hardworking people unable to make their mortgage payment due to loss of jobs. Does anybody care?
Every corner I turn, someone is making money off the situation. In the past, I too would have been eager to catch up on lost pension, to make some money in real estate. I have studied all the methods with strong background in business, finance and real estate. But something makes me hesitate. Are we going to continue to act separately, trying to survive, and let the chips fall where they may? Is this like the anticipated Y2K where people stashed weapons along with their canned foods. I personally, would rather die than be the last one left on earth with my canned tuna and a gun. Can we pull together and change the tides?
I think the Native Americans had it about right. The land does not belong to anybody. Land has become a commodity instead of a gift from God to the people. If land is a divine gift, then how can you sell it? I keep thinking that this financial crisis is a chance for us to move toward a different style of living. Greed has made us accumulate a bunch of stuff that we don't really need to live, things that don't bring happiness. Greed is born of fear. A hearse doesn't have luggage racks, so what is the point of all this accumulation? There is plenty of land for everyone who lives here to have a home. I think we can move toward a new homestead act, one that allows everyone land in perpetuity, land that can be passed onto the next generation.
It is time to stop ignoring the fact that so many people are losing their homes. What if Oregon refused to do foreclosures? What if every attorney refused to foreclose on primary residences? What if we had sit-ins at the courthouse steps and refused to allow the successor trustees to auction off property? What if the sheriffs and everyone refused to evict due to non-payment of mortgages? What if we collectively didn't pay our mortgages. What if we even cared that a family lost their home? We build shelters for the homeless, have food collections for the poor. We are the richest nation, but we have to run a marathon to keep paying our steep mortgages.
What if we decided to create a new paradigm? What if Oregon was the model of a free affluent land that pulled together and guaranteed that everyone had nice homes, none of this "affordable housing" with a condo-sized house and mini yard. We have the creativity and consciousness to do it, but do we have much more than apathy about the situation until it touches us personally? By then, it will be too late. "Take back your motherland people."
I started a group on Facebook, "U.S. Homestead Law 2009," and one on ConnectAshland.com, "U.S. Homestead Act 2009." I would love collective ideas regarding a new homestead act that suits a higher consciousness. Please feel free to post your ideas.
Michelle Koppel is a realtor and an accountant who has lived in the Rogue Valley since 2002. She has three children in the Ashland School District. She wants to contribute to sustainability in the Rogue Valley through collective consciousness and other methods.