Supporting the vitality of the Commons

Sustainability, Systems thinking

I mentioned I’m doing a course on the Commons who yesterday asked the question: How can we live and work in a way that supports the vitality of the commons? (It’s only week one, give us a break!)

Here’s my reply:

I couldn’t agree more with Mary Beth that “as long as we all live under the larger paradigm of a competitive economic system based on continual growth, we are destined to destroy our natural capital and create a few winners at the expense of many losers”, and the “access is better than ownership” quote is spot on.

There are LOTS of collaborative consumption oriented companies out there. is forever listing them, and is another one I came across recently… probably via Springwise, now I think about it!

I guess this hinges on what the “vitality of the commons” actually means. For me, it breaks down into:

Quality: enriching the Commons: improving natural areas, encouraging biodiversity, lobbying for ancient woodland in preference to new, etc.

Quantity: expanding the Commons: Loaning money via Kiva, writing to MPs / MEPs to do ‘X’ (preserve/plant forests, protect wetlands, go slow on GM, reduce fishing permits, etc).

Awareness / Education: Spreading the word and encouraging people to realise (and ultimately take responsibility for) their unescapable role in the Commons, and to try to invest in our shared capital where they can (eg by open sourcing, using Creative Commons licensing, planting trees, using National Parks, enjoying sunsets etc). There’s lots of room to be inventive and inspirational here, eg when talking happiness / depression, it’s well known that feeling to be a part of something bigger and more important gives one a warm sense of belonging and motivates purpose.

Collaboration and partnerships: Encouraging and using partnerships with facilitating companies: eg the fact Flickr uses CreativeCommons; water companies which (in the UK) have a responsibility to ensure tap water is safe to drink meaning they don’t like pesticides and fertilisers leaching into the groundwater, and are thus an ally, and recognising them as such when doing PR or discussing the extent to which companies are working FOR the commons already.

via The Common Course: 4-week online introduction to the Global Commons (Oct. 17th – Nov. 13th 2010): BREAK-OUT ROOM 3.

Ed Dowding

Ed Dowding

Founder, strategist, writer, gadfly, TED talker, world-record holder, and (foolishly) reality-TV farmer. DOES: Innovation, Product, Advocacy THINKS: Regenerative Systems, Institution design, 300 year horizons

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