Coalescing Around the Commons

Most of us who are actively seeking to create a world where people and nature can thrive are actually nurturing a piece of the commons. By telling our stories and how they relate to the commons, we can aggregate coherence from our variety of disparate initiatives and accelerate the movement towards new ways of overcoming our current economic, social and environmental crises.

We often think of the commons as shared assets, whether elements of our environment such as forests, the atmosphere, oceans, space, rivers, lakes, fisheries or grazing land, or emerging digital and cultural resources such as the internet or Wikipedia.

Commons are usually characterized as resources, natural or social, tangible or intangible that must be kept abundant; collaboratively governed by the communities and networks that produce or use them and have a stake in keeping them sustainable for their own livelihood and for posterity. These three key elements work together.

They may seem quite remote from our daily personal or change maker preoccupations, though in their broadest definition the commons are much more embedded in our individual and collective concerns than we may think…

Commons encompass anything a community of stakeholders builds or holds and stewards in common including any social transformation process or sought outcome as long as it is aimed at increasing the thrivability of a community with the broadest participation of its stakeholders in the decision making, and without harming other people and nature.

So for example, genetic and biologic diversity, food safety, clean air and soil, climate, knowledge, autonomy, human rights, the economy, resilience, well-being, health, literacy, capacity, prosperity, and access to renewable resources are all commons. And all the things we would like to see free and abundant and that need protection against enclosure, artificial scarcity, and any form of abuse and co-option are commons to be sanctuarized, nurtured, replenished and grown collectively…

Many who are busy advancing sustainability, resilience or thrivability or new forms of mutual, cooperative or P2P economies are actually building, nurturing or growing a piece of the commons and generating abundance, sometimes without realizing it.

One billion of us are members of cooperative banks, insurance companies, healthcare institutions, supermarkets, farmers markets, student-centered schools, etc.

Let’s share our stories and how we see our activities in relation to the commons. It will help write the wider story of abundance and the commons and coalesce the positive forces for change towards a purpose that can accommodate all our differences.

This post was previously published on and is republished here with a Creative Commons License.


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