The American environmentalist Gary Snyder defines a commons as “the contract a people make with their local natural system.” This relationship is generally codified in a set of rules about how to use nearby land that no one, and therefore everyone, owns.

This was something that rarely came to mind as I grew up. To risk ascribing my own experience to others, I don’t think most people dwell on the topic as much as it deserves. I spent my childhood using the West and unaware of other people who were equally entitled to it but who lacked the resources to enjoy it. I saw others in similar positions — my family and friends — do the same. I now see…