David Bollier: Interview on the Commons
COMMONING A VERB, NOT A THING
The commons as a new way of looking at the world. A new way of storytelling creates a new way of being, a new ontology, of being together that has the power to overcome the stories of “havingness” and greed, and “to create new stories that slip between the languages we have been given,” as Rebecca Solnit explains in ‘Falling Together.’ And what is the artist’s role?
What’s critical in creating any commons, is that a community decides that it wants to engage in the social practices of managing a resource for everyone’s benefit. This is sometimes known as commoning. The historian of the commons Peter Linebaugh has noted that “there is no commons without commoning.” It’s an important point to remember because it underscores that the commons is not only about shared resources; it’s mostly about the social practices and values that we devise to manage them. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 17)
As the community decides to engage in the social practices of managing a resource for everyone’s benefit, we see that the focus point of “commoning” is not only the resource but also the social practice itself and the values that are being devised to manage them. Various theorectical works document the staggering international breadt and vitality of commons activities and advocacy. The commons can be found in German ecovillages, Chilean fisher commons, thousand of open-access scientific journals, the uprise of alternative currencies used by local communities, and in urban gardens that grow food and social connections. New movements of people worldwide are beginning to see how the commons paradigm describes their lives and their relationships to other people and resources. Software programmers, indigenous people, academic researchers, permaculturists, Indian textile makers, Istanbul residents defendig Gezi Park, the users of public libraries and parks, Slow Food activists: the affinity of these groups for the commons is not necessarily intellectual or scientific; it’s a personal creation of cultural identity, a way of life and a way to revive democratic practice. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 33)