Mar
27

University of Vermont

Burlington, VT.  Public talk, "Think LIke a Commoner," at 4:00 pm in Waterman 413.

Kosmos Journal is on the move.  It has recently revamped its website, and it looks beautiful!  Many new features and a great design. Kosmos has also initiated several new projects such as a “Global Ambassadors Program” to give the magazine greater global visibility; a study of the transformational “Shift” now underway; and a new bi-monthly newsletter.

A few weeks ago, Nancy Roof, Founding Editor of Kosmos invited me to sit down with James Quilligan, a friend, international development thinker and frequent contributor to Kosmos on commons-related themes.  With video cameras rolling, we talked about some of the most urgent issues facing the commons today and promising new directions for the movement.  A video of our 30-minute conversation can be seen here.  We covered a wide number of topics, from the most recent round of enclosures to some of the strategic needs that the commons movement must address.    

Currently, less than 3% of the food that Americans eat is grown within 100 to 200 miles of where they live.  And many people in poorer neighborhoods simply do not have ready access to affordable local produce.

A fascinating new project, the Food Commons, aspires to radically change this reality.  It seeks to reinvent the entire “value-chain” of food production and distribution through a series of regional experiments to invent local food economies as commons. 

By owning many elements of a local food system infrastructure – farms, distribution, retail and more – but operating them as a trust governed by stakeholders, the Food Commons believes it can be economically practical to build a new type of food system that is labor-friendly, ecologically responsible, hospitable to a variety of small enterprises, and able to grow high-quality food for local consumption.

Food Commons explains its orientation to the world by quoting economist Herman Daly:

“If economics is reconceived in the service of community, it will begin with a concern for agriculture and specifically for the production of food.  This is because a healthy community will be a relatively self-sufficient one.  A community’s complete dependency on outsiders for its mere survival weakens it….The most fundamental requirement for survival is food.  Hence, how and where food is grown is foundational to an economics for community.”

Food Commons is a nonprofit project that was officially begun in 2010 by Larry Yee and James Cochran.  Yee is a former academic with the University of California Cooperative Extension who has been involved in sustainable agriculture for years.  Cochran is the founder and president of Swanton Berry Farms, a mid-scale organic farming enterprise near Santa Cruz, California.

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."

Oct
23

Omega Institute Conference

Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY:  "Where We Go From Here" conference.

May
1

Book Party, Pt. Reyes Station, CA

Book reading and discussion, at Mesa Refuge (pre-register).  Co-sponsored by Mesa Refuge and Pt. Reyes Books.

Apr
5

Harvard Law School

Conference, "Unbound:  This Land Is Your Land:  Remaking Property After Neoliberalism," Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Mar
31

Book Party, Amherst Books

5:30 pm at 8 Main Street, Amherst, MA.  For more information, call 413-256-1547.

Mar
30

Bristol Town Hall

Public talk with Q&A following.  In cooperation with Vermont Family Forests.

Mar
29

Sustainable Living Expo 2014

Middlebury, VT:  Workshop on the commons and sale of Think Like a Commoner.

Syndicate content