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the globe, and across industries, across cultures on land, sea and air, man’s common sense has gone out the window, and been replaced by the quest for immediate personal gain and corporate greed, at the detriment of our gasping planet.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.