THE COMMONS: initiatives towards a better world





All over Africa and Asia good folk build their villages across the migration route of herds of elephants. Then they moan and wail when the elephants,  traveling across their ancient routes, plough straight through their village, leaving, death, devastation and destruction in their wake.

“Oh, we have a problem with the elephants!” you can hear them weep and wail.

No, methinks you have a problem with your ability to think and rationalise.

I would like to use this very real situation as a metaphor for the rest of mankind, who have proven their inability to think and rationalise. For example, take any fish species in any ocean. They are almost fished to extinction. 100 years ago, plenty of fish; today, all gone. It defies common sense to the point of criminal stupidity. And yet, if common society (we all deserve a portion of blame) had sat down and done the math, and then taken responsibility as caretakers of this fragile planet, this situation would have been avoidable with a moratorium on catches; we could then fish on for many years to come. Even in the light of current statistics, this is not done. Madness; just madness. Across the globe, and across industries, across cultures on land, sea and air, man’s common sense has gone out the window, and been replaced by the quest for immediate personal gain and corporate greed, at the detriment of our gasping planet.

For many years, we have apportioned responsibility to a select group of officials and blame them when the North Sea cod, for example, is fished to total extinction. We left it all up to our glorious leaders and now say sardonically, “and look what a great job they’ve done.”

We can wipe our hands clean and say, “wasn’t my fault!”

Well, here’s the hard truth folks; it is your fault, and it is your responsibility.

What has gone before us makes no common sense, because we had no common shared values; we gave them away to others to decide our values for us. In an ironic twist, we are the elephants plowing up the land, leaving death and destruction behind us in our wake.

Well, now it is time for some common sense. Now it is time to be accountable and take common responsibility for who we are, both collectively and as individuals.

The point? If we had The Commons as a model for ecological governance, we might grow some common sense, before it’s too late. See Global Warming

And here is where I would like to introduce The Commons. Please go to blogroll on the right of my site for a pdf link and / or link to the URL’s below. The purpose of this blog is to make you aware of the commons, so that you can research and develop your own knowledge, and, hopefully, share that knowledge with others. This article does not infer that I know everything about the commons, I don’t. It is my wish to share with you what I recently discovered myself.

But before I do … please check out this video entitled Learning from Ladakh. It is about a community that have had a common shared system of living that has been working for hundreds of years. They are also ecologists and supporters of a permaculture lifestyle. Enjoy

What are The Commons?

Peter Barnes describes commons as a set of assets that have two characteristics: they are all gifts, and they are all shared. A shared gift is one we receive as members of a community, as opposed to individually. Examples of such gifts include air, water, ecosystems, languages, music, holidays, money, law, mathematics, parks and the Internet.[4]”  WIKI

An Introduction to Green Governance by David Bollier & Burns H. Weston on May 31, 2012

“The Commons represents an advance over existing governance because it gives us practical ways of naming and protecting value that the (current) market is incapable of doing.”

Here’s another link to commons i’ve just discovered

The Coda:

persuasive visions for commons and rights-based ecological governance.

Below are the eight principals to managing a commons by Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrum                                                                     

From Governing the Commons, by Elinor Ostrum (August 7, 1933 – June 12, 2012)

VIDEO : ELINOR OSTRUM ON THE COMMONS: when you go to this video it will link to other Elinor Ostrum videos.

8 Principles for Managing a Commons

1. Define clear group boundaries.

2. Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions.

3. Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.

4. Make sure the rule-making rights of community members are respected by outside authorities.

5. Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior.

6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.

7. Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution.

8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system.

The Tragedy of The Commons

“The Tragedy of the Commons refers to a scenario in which commonly held land is inevitably degraded because everyone in a community is allowed to graze livestock there. This parable was popularized by wildlife biologist Garrett Hardin in the late 1960s, and was embraced as a principle by the emerging environmental movement. But Ostrom’s research refutes this abstract concept once-and-for-all with the real
life experience from places like Nepal, Kenya and Guatemala.”
          Ana Micka

First explored in an 1833 pamphlet by William Forster Lloyd

 Creative Commons: Everything is a re-mix

 Everything is a Remix is produced by Kirby Ferguson, a New York-based filmmaker. This site is a companion piece to the four-part video series. The first three episodes of the series have been published and part four should be released in late November.


The Power of Mindmaps!



Mind maps are a great visual and tactile way of getting your thoughts down and your message across.Whether it’s about global warming, sanitation, health care, business or school, you can make a mind map of it.

Here’s a cut & paste from Wiki.

“A mind map is a diagram used to visually outline information. A mind map is often created around a single word or text, placed in the center, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added. Major categories radiate from a central node, and lesser categories are sub-branches of larger branches.[1] Categories can represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items related to a central key word or idea.”

 a guide to making mind maps

This picture was made available under The Creative Commons License

I’ve used them several times in the classroom and students (mostly) really enjoy doing them. We get the idea down in the classroom, then they finish off the ‘artwork’ at home. Some come back as works of art, some do not. It’s a personal thing.

Mind maps are generally used to express sequential concepts: hot pan – no glove – burn hand – pain – hospital -etc- or a series of transcending thoughts – buy car – save money – get job – study for degree etc – in the latter you would have the dream car in the centre surrounded by the ways and means to achieve it.

In the sample below I created mine more as a grouping of ideas to express positive and negative aspects of how we live, with alternatives. The primary focus was on advertising the kabook-i idea in Google images and showing my concepts visually.

I produced mine using a mix of word doc and freehand. I did a rough draft layout, a failed attempt in freehand, then this.

kabook-i mindmap

Click on the picture to enlarge

If you want to see a much better version or versions though, go to Jane Genovese’s site. Here’s a sample courtesy of Jane.

mindmaps popultaion

What I really like about Jane’s work, beside the sequential layout, is the fact that she deals with current issues such as population and the planet, mind sets, behavior, organisation and more. And on her site she’ll even show you how to mind map. How cool is that!

If you look at either mind map you will see  that they are a great platform for discussion. Instead of having your 10 page power point presentation you could have a one page mind map and talk all day long.

They are also a great way of expressing your ideas across cultures and without language barriers.  Whether you are trying to teach a village in Bangladesh or Timor Leste about sustainable sanitation, it doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the language, or if they are illiterate. If you have a decent, colourful, expressive mind map, that expresses your concepts, they will get the picture, literally.

Some time in the future (soon) I will do one on sustainable sanitation and kabook-i

okay – got it – here’s one on (UN) SUSTAINABLE SANITATION: I have software called Print Shop, which allows me to draw – cut and paste – which means I can move them around in the picture where I want

mind map on sustainable sanitaiton


Please feel free to leave a comment and share your mind maps




An Open Letter re; Consultancy Services


Dear sir or madam:

I am writing in regard to problems related to poor housing, food security, pathogenic drinking water and Eco-sanitation problems in developing countries. At eco1solutions we have developed a system that addresses all of these issues as an integrated whole. The Kabook-i Method® is an holistic, off-the-grid, self-sustainable living system. It has four main parts.

Kabook-i® Construction: A systematic method of building strong, solid-wall, long-term housing using a bamboo cavity-wall framework with a unique locking system and locally available earth materials.

Human8ture®: A systematic ecosan method that uses nature to convert human waste to humus & NPK for urban agriculture.

Water Management: A systematic approach to collecting and storing water and re-using grey-water.

Raised Bed Gardening: A systematic, innovative, low-labour approach to organic home gardening with compost to provide better food security to households.

All of the above economical and ecological systems can be applied separately or as a whole.

Eco1solutions was set up as a consultancy service to resolve issues related to eco sanitation and to provide solid, long-term housing for developing countries. I have a background in the military, engineering, education, design, creative writing, sculpting DIY furniture making and things creative. I have been working and traveling in S.E. Asia for over twenty years and resolved to come up with solutions to the problems I have seen all too often in communities across Asia.

Please contact me for a free consultation for projects you are involved in, or share this information within your contact group. Please go to to review the information on site. It will be a pleasure to discuss this matter further at your convenience.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Please share this website: By doing so you could help communities, improve the lives of many and perhaps even save a child’s life.