What are the Commons? And a Commons Economy?

We quote and send you to the P2P Foundation’s “Commons Transition Primer” articles because they are clear, effective and range in length according to your time availability and knowledge desire.

“David Bollier describes Commons as a shared resource, co-governed by its user community according to the community’s rules and norms. Things that can be managed as a commons include natural resources (land, water, air), and created assets (culture, knowledge), and can be either inherited or human-made, but “The Commons” refers to the process as a whole — the synergy between the elements of a community, a resource and the rules for its co-governance.

So, practically speaking, "The Commons" refers to:

1. Collectively managed resources, both material and immaterial, which need protection and require a lot of knowledge and know-how.

2. Social processes that foster and deepen thriving relationships. These form part of complex socio-ecological systems which must be consistently stewarded, reproduced, protected and expanded through commoning.

3. A new mode of production focused on new productive logics and processes.

4. A paradigm shift, that sees commons and the act of commoning as a worldview.

There is no commons without commoning”. This means that resources (or “gifts”) by themselves do not constitute a Commons. These must be activated by community action and governance. Again, the Commons is neither the resource, the community that gathers around it, nor the protocols for its stewardship, but the dynamic interaction between all these elements.

The most notorious example?

Wikipedia: there is a resource (encyclopedic entries), a community (the authors and editors) and a set of community-harvested rules and protocols (Wikipedia’s content and editing guidelines). The Wikimedia Commons emerges from of all three. Another example, but in a radically different context, is the Siuslaw National Forest, in Oregon, USA. Managed as a commons, we also find a resource (the forest), a community (loggers, environmental scientists and forest rangers comprising its ‘watershed council’) and a set of rules and bylaws (the charter for sustainably co-managing the forest).”

The road to a Commons Society involve everybody and every kind of organization and social dimension, but our action is focused on the economic side: we map and connect the economic actors -from local businesses to global cooperative to traditional companies that want to engage in this transition- with our consulting and research work.

We are convinced it’s important to act from the perspectives and realities of the traditional economies: we study and engage with companies and professionals that have no idea about the commons transition, because they constitute the majority of our economy and they must be involved in intelligent and gradual steps to contribute and take advantage of this emerging paradigm.

We really recommend to contact us to approach this novelties from the concreteness of your current needs and problems!


Or you can start your exploration with the excellent materials we mentioned before:

What does a P2P Economy look like?

What is distributed manifacturing?

What are P2P and the Commons, and how do they relate?

The Connective 2020 - Cooperativa di Produzione e Lavoro