Reclaiming the Commons

Ensuring a Sustainable Future

Jody Heymann and Magda Barrera

Jody Heymann of UCLA and Magda Barrera of McGill University bring experts together from the fields of public health, climate risk, urban and regional planning, sustainable agriculture, and water governance in a new book that examines economically viable solutions to the environmental challenges that disproportionately impact the world’s poorest populations. 

The Rise of Community Wealth Building Institutions

More people are turning to economic alternatives in which new wealth is built collectively and from the bottom up

Crossposted from Policy Network, and later published on the London School of Economics website, this blog is part of a debate event hosted by Policy Network in London, UK, that was reviewed in OurKingdom by grassroots activist James Doran:    

Five years after the financial crisis economic inequality in the United States is spiraling to levels not seen since the Gilded Age. While most Americans are experiencing a recovery-less recovery, the top one per cent of earners last year claimed 19.3 per cent of household income, their largest share since 1928. Moreover, income distribution looks positively egalitarian when compared to wealth ownership.

Cove Creek Gardens

Located in Northeast Greensboro, Cove Creek Gardens is a public teaching garden that provides the community with opportunities for research, learning, and interaction with nature.  All of its programs and projects are centered on “experiential learning,” an educational concept that combines formal instruction with hands-on practice.  About 200 students participate in the Garden’s programs each month.  The Garden also conducts numerous community programs that engage diverse populations, including the homeless and HIV/AIDS residents, in the Garden’s initiatives.

Read more about Cove Creek Gardens...

Democracy Collaborative Offers Paid Internship

Work with us on newsletters and

We are pleased to announce a new intern position at The Democracy Collaborative that will focus on the newsletter and adding web content. For further details, please see the position description below. Remember to submit your applications by August 30!

How to Design Our World for Happiness: The commons guide to placemaking, public space, and enjoying a convivial life

Jay Walljasper

This collection of essays, drawn from excerpts in Commons Magazine, is intended to improve our understanding of the “commons” and “placemaking” movements that aim to restore a sense of place in communities, while promoting public space and engagement. Focusing on community assets, these movements promote an integrated approach to urban planning that seeks to create public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. The collection includes best practice examples — ranging from Bogata, Colombia to the Netherlands to Boston — of strategies for building community and reclaiming public and open space.

Bernalillo County Open Space

Started in 1998 as a result of a grassroots effort by numerous community groups, Open Space formed after a referendum passed providing 0.5 mill levy for two years and again in 2000 with a 0.25 mill levy for six years. These funds were used to acquire and maintain historical sites and cultural treasures that also feature essential aquifers. Open Space provides workshops, guided hikes, educational field trips and volunteer opportunities on the preserved land. 

Rio Grande Community Farm

Owned and operated by the City of Albuquerque’s Open Space Division, the Rio Grande Community Farm is a 138-acre farm free and open to all. Occupying the original site of Los Poblanos, one of the earliest Spanish Colonial settlements in the Rio Grande Valley, the farm acts as a community garden, wildlife habitat and certified organic cropland.  In addition to preserving the unique history of the city, the farm provides educational experiences, community service projects and recreational opportunities for Albuquerque residents while also working to significantly recharge the city’s depleted aquifer.  To secure the site in 1997, the City passed a two-year quarter cent sales tax to provide funds for its acquisition.

Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own

David Bollier

In Viral Spiral, David Bollier chronicles the movement for open-source software and other freely available common tools.

Raising the Floor

The diverse team at Raising the Floor works to ensure that those experiencing trouble using modern information and communication technologies have access to features and tools that allow them equal usage. The group aims to close the gap between the technology haves and have-nots by researching disabilities and underlying factors of inaccessibility to assistive technologies. Read more about Raising the Floor...

Cultural Commons

The Cultural Commons is an affiliate of Americans for the Arts, a DC-based think tank that seeks to inform and improve the decisions that affect cultural life. The cornerstone of the Commons is its series of Cultural Comment essays, in which writers comment on cultural issues, and an online Discussion Forum, in which the entire community is encouraged to reflect and respond. The Commons site also provides links to current news articles, new books and reports, events, job announcements, and experts and academic policy centers. Read more about Cultural Commons...

Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land is a national, nonprofit, land conservation organization that conserves land and common space for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Read more about Trust for Public Land...

TimeBanks USA

TimeBanks USA supports and nurtures a network of Time Banks located in 50 communities across the United States, as well as lends support for the movement's further development. Time Banks are systems of voluntary labor exchange based on the concept of equal exchange of labor time. The concept, developed by Edgar Cahn in the 1980s, has proved to be a valuable tool in building social networks and social capital. Read more about TimeBanks USA...

Students for Free Culture

Founded in April 2004, today Students for Free Culture (formerly chapters exist at over 40 colleges. Inspired by the book Free Culture by Stanford Professor Lawrence Lessig, the group aims to bring together young activists from a number of related movements including free software advocates, the open source community, media activists, creative artists and writers, and civil libertarians. Read more about Students for Free Culture...

Redefining Progress

Redefining Progress works to shift the economy and public policy towards sustainability. It works in three main areas: measuring the real state of our economy (including social wellbeing) with tools like the Genuine Progress Indicator; designing policies to shift behavior towards sustainability in terms of economy, equity, and ecology; and promoting new frameworks, such as common assets, that facilitate meeting sustainable objectives. Read more about Redefining Progress...

Public Knowledge

Public Knowledge is an advocacy group that was founded in 2001 to build support for a vibrant information commons. In addition to its policy work, Public Knowledge runs three specific projects in collaboration with movement communities to further this work. Its Open Access Project promotes the free and unrestricted electronic distribution of peer-reviewed journal literature. Its Creator's Project aims to make copyright and technology law work for artists. And its Global Knowledge Initiative works on international intellectual property issues. Read more about Public Knowledge...

Post Carbon Institute

The Post Carbon Institute, founded in 2003 and which now has over 100 local chapters worldwide, does research and education work on how to adapt to an energy-constrained world. The group's main strategy has been to promote Relocalization, which aims to rebuild societies based on the local production of food and energy, as well as local currency, governance and culture. The main goals of Relocalization are to increase community energy security, strengthen local economies, and dramatically improve environmental conditions and social equity. Read more about Post Carbon Institute...