Raising the Commons

A repeating theme of conversation and contemplation.

From philosophy to praxis.

The Commons - a term still defying common definition

Wikipedia: (with our emphasis)

“The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable Earth. These resources are held in common even when owned privately or publicly. 

Commons can also be understood as natural resources that groups of people (communities, user groups) manage for individual and collective benefit. Characteristically, this involves a variety of informal norms and values (social practice) employed for a governance mechanism. 

Commons can also be defined as a social practice of governing a resource not by state or market but by a community of users that self-governs the resource through institutions that it creates….

... The Digital Library of the Commons defines "commons" as "a general term for shared resources in which each stakeholder has an equal interest".

How we use the term "Commons"

Commons are shared resources, of any kind, in which a given set of constituents have a common and equal interest. We especially distinguish Commons from Market and State.

It’s important to note that the nature of interest in what we might naturally think of as a particular set of resources may differ from one group to another, e.g. the Amazon rainforest.

  • Globally, we all have an equal interest in the Commons of breathable air, and the Amazon rainforest has a part to play in that, so in that way we all have an equal interest in it. 

  • Locally, those living in the Amazon rainforest have additional interests in the Amazon rainforest as their home, as their source of food and livelihood. 

Commons philosophy remains messy. In some ways it is easier to talk about what we think Commons are not:

  • they do not have to be 'free access'

  • they do not have to be currently under Commons governance

Something Powerful

Tell The Reader More

The headline and subheader tells us what you're offering, and the form header closes the deal. Over here you can explain why your offer is so great it's worth filling out a form for.


  • Bullets are great
  • For spelling out benefits and
  • Turning visitors into leads.

MARKET - private sector 

  • Markets enable us to buy resources, try new things and optimize what works, based on the transactions of people ‘voting with their wallets’

STATE - public sector 

  • States provide standards, stability, and public services, based on voting and formal hierarchy

COMMONS - community/non-profit sector

  • Commons provide everything else through our relationships, collaboration, voluntary participation, norms and mutual support
Screenshot 2023-08-01 at 18.11.37

MARKET - private sector 

  • Most resources humans need to live are owned or harvested within Market structures across the globe
  • Massive cohered, active power from resource control

STATE - public sector 

  • Owns some assets and charges taxes, royalties
  • Fewer resources than Market in most countries, but
    still has significant access; also has formal, cohered power (e.g. legislative, judicial, executive) 

COMMONS - community / non-profit sector

  • Relies on volunteers, philanthropy and grants
  • Resources are scarce, power is dispersed (incoherent)
Screenshot 2023-08-01 at 18.12.22

The imbalance is an inevitable consequence of the way/s resources are currently collected and distributed.

Metaphorically (where water = resources needed for life):

MARKET - We each use watering cans to distribute resources we’ve collected to where we think we will get the best ROI

STATE - We vote to distribute resources to activities / areas we believe are valuable and viable, using systems of water pipes

COMMONS - Needs rain but presently suffers continuous drought as resources are nearly all captured and redirected into watering cans and water pipes

Screenshot 2023-08-01 at 18.13.08

Watering can Icon by www.wishforge.games; Rain Icon by ferdizzimo; Water pipe Icon by Muhammad Waqas. All on freeicons.io

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