Our Children’s Trust Suit is a really interesting example which I have participated in. It is a bunch of kids who are concerned about the environment, particularly climate change and they are suing state and federal governments in the US about not taking responsibility for providing for their commons. There is a doctrine called the public trust doctrine, whereby the government holds our commons in trust for future generations and for the broad public. And when the government doesn’t take adequate action to deal with climate change, they are violating the public trust and these children, who range in age from eight or 10 up to 19 say, “You have to change your ways! We are bringing this to the courts to decide.” Eugene, Oregon, is one of the centers for that. So I’m happy to participate in that.
CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – is a totally co-created commons. Participants are saying, “We are going to participate in a farm that is in fact all of ours. We are supporting it, we are not just buying produce. We are saying, ‘Here’s a bunch of money. Do your farming and give us some of the produce you grow.’” In many places the people who subscribe to a CSA also go out and work on the farm, particularly during harvest time. Around Tokyo there are CSA’s with thousands of subscribers, many of whom go out to the farms at harvest time, helping to harvest and can produce, etc.
Community Land Trusts involves ownership of a bunch of land by the community. You can build your house on it, or do your activities on it – you can even own what’s what’s being put on it – but you don’t own the land. Having communal ownership of land is really important.
Then there’s the whole cooperative movement: “Whatever we’re doing, we’re holding it in common.” It is like creating chunks of the commons within and for different groups, and supporting the spread of local cooperative ways of doing things and cooperative attitudes.
Creative Commons Licensing means, “We’re not going to copyright this or patent it in a way that totally holds it away from other people. To some extent that we want specified, we want our rights to be honored, but we are also specifying that you, whoever you are, can use this in various specific ways.” So Creative Commons Licensing is loosening up the tight hold most copyrighted things have on intellectual, electronic, and physical creativity.
Then there are the public schools. The idea that it’s part of the rights of people to get educated, particularly children. And we’re going to provide a common space where anybody can go and get an education without having to pay for it.
I realize I don’t have healthcare in here, because the United States doesn’t have a health care commons. Many European countries and some other countries do have healthcare that’s freely available for everyone. It is part of their commons to be taken care of and to benefit everybody, and anybody can participate. Everybody participates in making it work out for everybody. That’s the idea behind a sustainable commons.
History Commons Link
Wise democracy is largely about sustaining all our commons, and our commons provide a foundation for the work we do for and as a wise democracy.