My newfound heroes are Janelle Orsi and the Sustainable Economies Law Center. Every day I see the need for more lawyers to defend, to help people at least maintain what they have. But we also need creative lawyers to build the alternatives, the legal structures that allow people to collaborate and meet their own needs.
Lawyers, social scientists, historians, accountants, dreamers, writers, doers and, for that matter, all people, need to be involved in designing the protective structures that will steward the resources, tools, and information on which we rely to survive.
But I also really appreciate how Janelle Orsi recognizes that this is not work for lawyers alone – we all have a role in creating a justice system that works for all of us.
David Bollier is a leader in thinking and writing about the commons. This lecture given at Property and Inequality in the 21st Century is the best explanation that I can find of the critical importance of the commons to address inequality.
Even more importantly, he helps to collect the stories and experiences of commons all over the world. A new website by the Commons Strategies Group makes it easier to find this wealth of information!
Right now, technology is reinvigorating an ancient idea, and that idea could save modern society from environmental destruction and increasing income inequality. That idea is the commons – shared use and shared governance of a shared resource. Traditionally, commons meant shared grazing pastures or forests where anybody could hunt or gather firewood. Commons followed us into cities, as the town squares where we could congregate without invitation and admission fees, or the well-lit streets of collective individual action. Now, commons include knowledge commons, where a community of volunteers edit the world’s largest collection of knowledge: Wikipedia. With global connectivity, we can – and do – share all types of knowledge – lessons, designs, plans, blueprints, software – free and available to all.
However, the idea of the commons still seems invisible, despite its huge and broad impact, which makes me want to write a sort of manifesto about the commons.
This is a bad idea for a lot of reasons.
Continue reading Futures of Commons: An Uncommon Manifesto