Upcoming Conferences on the Commons

There are a number of upcoming conferences focusing on various sorts of commons.  For those of you with a passionate interest in any of the following, check out these four gatherings in coming months:

A Virtual Town Hall for the Great Lakes Commons, March 18

What would happen if the Great Lakes in North America were managed on principles and practices that empower communities to become stewards of the water?  What if decisionmaking was local and collective? To discuss these themes, several organizations are convening the first webinar in a series, “Protect the Great Lakes Forever Virtual Town Halls.”  This first one will take place on March 18 from noon to 1 pm ET. For more information, visit here.  Or check out the Facebook invite

The event is convened by Alexa Bradley (Program Director for On the Commons), Sue Chiblow (Environmental Consultant for the Mississauga First Nation) and Jim Olson (Founder and Chair of FLOW for Water). Emma Lui (Water Campaigner for the Council of Canadians) will be moderator.  The organizers want to use the commons to “prioritize the basic needs of communities, the rights of indigenous peoples and the sustainability of the land,” noting that “the lens of the commons can act as a political framework for many Great Lakes issues including extreme energy projects, bottled water extraction, invasive species and pollution.”

Knowledge Commons Conference in September

Make plans now to attend the International Association for the Study of Commons’ second Thematic Conference on Knowledge Commons, to be held at NYU’s Engelberg Center on Innovation, Law and Policy, from September 5 to 7, 2014. 

The interdisciplinary conference seeks “to better understand how knowledge commons work, where they come from, what contributes to their durability and effectiveness, and what undermines them.”  This year, the focus will be on “Governing Pooled Knowledge Resources, with special attention to the fields of medicine and the environment.” 

Keynote talks will be given by Yochai Benkler (Harvard Law School), Eric von Hippel (MIT Sloan School of Management), and Michael McGinnis (Political Science, Indiana University, Bloomington).  Co-chairs of the conference are Katherine Strandburg, NYU School of Law, and Charlie Schweik of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. More information at the conference website.  

CommonsFest in Greece To Explore Peer to Peer Civilization

CommonsFest is an initiative to "promote freedom of knowledge (or free knowledge) and peer-to-peer collaboration for the creation and management of the commons." The focus of CommonsFest will be on “the emergence of the peer to peer civilization and political economy.” Festival organizers explain that peer production "has spread through free software communities and extends to many aspects of our daily lives, such as the arts, governance, construction of machinery, tools and other goods. Through an exhibition, talks, screenings and workshops, the aim of the festival is to promote the achievements of this philosophy to the public and become a motive for further adoption."

Drawing on a statement by the P2P Foundation, the conference organizers note:  “Our current world system is marked by a profoundly counterproductive logic of social organization:  a) it is based on a false concept of abundance in the limited material world; it has created a system based on infinite growth, within the confines of finite resources; b) it is based on a false concept of scarcity in the infinite immaterial world; instead of allowing continuous experimental social innovation, it purposely erects legal and technical barriers to disallow free cooperation through copyright, patents, etc. 

“Therefore, the number one priority for a sustainable civilization is overturning these principles into their opposite:  a) we need to base our physical economy on a recognition of the finitude of natural resources, and achieve a sustainable steady-state economy; and b) we need to facilitate free and creative cooperation and lower the barriers to such exchange by reforming the copyright and other restrictive regimes.”

The exact dates of the CommonsFest are still being determined (late year’s was in April).  The location will be Koinonikos Choros of the Kalokairinou Institues at the center of Heraklion in Crete, Greece.  More information here

Fourth International Degrowth Conference in Leipzig, Germany

Every two years there is a major Degrowth Conference that questions “the importance of growth for economic policy and seeks to promote social and sustainable alternatives.” The 2014 conference in Leipzig, Germany from September 2 to 6, will feature “scientific debates, exchanges between activists and economic/cultural pioneers and also artistic approaches to the subject.” 

In answer to the question, “Why Degrowth?” the conference website explains:  “Many analyses from various scientific disciplines imply that a growth-based economic and social system cannot have a future: Despite a growing number of technological solutions for “Green Growth,” inequality and the destruction of nature are significantly on the rise. It is high time to develop economic and social models that are independent of growth and can provide for a good life for everybody.”

More information on the conference here.