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  • Black Commons, Community Land Trusts, and Reparations

    African Americans have long been victimized by the theft of their land, labor, and the ability to buy land as they wish. Following the Civil War, few former slaves actually received the 40 acres and a mule promised them, and in later decades, all sorts of discriminatory federal policies and bank lending practices made it…

  • The Pandemic as a Catalyst for Institutional Innovation

    The following essay is adapted from a talk given on May 5 at Radical May, a month-long series of events hosted by a consortium of fifty-plus book publishers, including my own publisher, New Society Publishers. My talk — streamed and later posted on YouTube here — builds on two previous blog posts. As the pandemic continues, it…

  • Announcing a New Podcast, ‘Frontiers of Commoning’

    I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new podcast series, Frontiers of Commoning, which is a project of the Reinventing the Commons Program at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics. Every month I plan to host a lively conversation with creative pioneers who are demonstrating new ways of commoning. In my travels over the years,…

  • Let the Institutional Innovation Begin! (Part I)

    In covid-19, neoliberal capitalism has met a formidable foe. The pandemic has shown just how fragile and dysfunctional the market/state order — as a production apparatus, ideology, and culture — truly is. Countless market sectors are now more or less collapsing with a highly uncertain future ahead. With a few notable exceptions, government responses to…

  • Commoning as a Pandemic Survival Strategy

    The pandemic now sweeping the planet is one of those historic events that will change many basic premises of modern life. Let us act swiftly to deal with the emergencies, but let us also seize the opportunity to think about long-term system change. If there is one thing that the pandemic confirms (in tandem with…

  • On the Road with ‘Free, Fair and Alive’

    Book tours are known for being grueling odysseys. While it wasn’t a breeze to speak at two dozen events in ten weeks of travel in Europe, UK and the US, it was a joy for me to connect with so many different commoners. I found my visits often amounted to field research filled with unexpected…

  • Learning to See the Commons

    Generations of propaganda about the instability of “the commons” and the desirability of assigning property rights in everything has led the human race into a very dark place: now, two scholars, David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, have published Free, Fair and Alive, which offers a critique of the “Tragedy,” case studies of working commons, and…

  • Commoning as the Heartbeat of Art & Culture

    Artists tend to be finely attuned to subtle vibrations of our culture. They hear and see things, and intuitively know what needs to be amplified.Then they come out with creative, sometimes shocking interpretations that often make us realize, “Oh wow, so that’s what I’ve been sensing all this time!” I think that’s one reason for…

  • Reimagining the commons: Q&A with David Bollier

    The commons hold an almost mythological allure in our minds — something from a bygone era when human societies were marked by collectivism and community cohesion. We might think of Medieval England, where forests were held in common by communities of people who could freely forage and hunt. Or perhaps the word evokes images of…

  • Exploring System Change in the Hudson Valley

    If there is any doubt that ordinary, non-credentialed people are prepared to step up to the daunting challenges of climate change and Peak Oil, I’m pleased to report that the good people of Kingston, New York, gave a resoundingly positive answer this past weekend. More than 230 people (1% of the city’s population!) showed up…