A process of social self-organization that creates new and innovative ways to equitably and sustainably manage shared resources.
— David Bollier
More than a political philosophy or policy agenda, the commons is an active, living process. It is less a noun than a verb because it is primarily about the social practices of commoning – acts of mutual support, conflict, negotiation, communication and experimentation that are needed to create systems to manage shared resources. This process blends production (self provisioning), governance, culture, and personal interests into one integrated system.
The more profound influence of the commons may be cultural. Commoning regenerates people’s social connections with each other and with “nature.” It helps build new aspirations and identities. By giving people significant new opportunities for personal agency that go well beyond the roles of consumer, citizen, and voter, the commons introduces people to new social roles that embody wholesome cultural values and entail both responsibility and entitlement. In a time when market culture is ubiquitous and invasive, commoning cultivates new cultural spaces and nourishes inner, subjective experiences that have far more to do with the human condition and social change than the manipulative branding and disempowering spectacles of market culture. Finally, the real significance of commoning may be that it is not ultimately about a fixed philosophical vision or policy agenda, but about engaged action in building successful commons. Commoners would agree with conceptual artist Jenny Holzer: “Action creates more trouble than words.”
David Bollier — “Commoning as a Transformative Social Paradigm”, Next System Project (28/04/2016). Read or download here the full essay.
Characterised by an ever-changing spatial manifestation, the programmes in maat are organically developed around thematic axes (signified with an #), tackling the intricacies, wonders and unknowns of the historical present. Currently being worked on, the first of these will be: #commoning / The Design & Scale of the Common Good, #thetruth / “The Truth Was Supposed to Set Us Free” (Garry Kasparov) / #datamatters / Data, Fabric of Life.