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The Role of Commons Animateurs

Illuminating new possibilities and solutions

| by On the Commons Team

(Photo by Jeremy Wilburn under a Creative Commons license)

What are the practices of animating the commons?

  • Asking a different set of questions to interrupt habitual thinking, assumptions, patterns, and practices
  • Seeking and connecting the collective wisdom

Today’s emergent commons often grow out of a community’s desire and need to re-orient its relationship to a resource(s) toward more sustainable use and greater shared benefit. The spark for that reorientation often comes from people or a person able to see beyond ‘what is’ and envision ‘what could be.’ These people—who we call commons animateurs—look at problems differently, ask different questions, and engage more people in solution making.

A commons animateur provides catalyzing leadership for a growing commons movement, enabling people and communities to recognize, value, claim, and care for their commons. We call this “animating” because the process illuminates and activates a set of possibilities and solutions that were latent and become alive.

Commons animateurs describe their role in many ways, come from all kinds of communities and are engaged in different arenas, but their work reflects a commons orientation.

What are the practices of animating the commons?

Building relationships as the foundation of commons work, including…

Collaborating based on commons principles, including…

Sharing power and leadership among many, including…

Adapting and evolving based on emergent conditions, including…

Embracing the power of play and creative expression, including…

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