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COMMONS MAGAZINE

Nature is an Open-Source Commons

July 25, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

One of the more provocative talks at the Economics and the Commons Conference in Berlin last May was Andreas Weber’s critique of the “bio-economics” narrative that blends social Darwinism and free market economics. Bioeconomics is the default worldview for contemporary economic thought, public policy and politics. The only problem is that, by the lights of the latest biological sciences, this narrative is wrong, seriously wrong.

Connecticut Passes Commons-Based Approach to Taxing Urban Land

July 22, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

On June 20, 2013, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law an act permitting – as a pilot program – a tax reform that turns traditional taxation on its head, as it also embraces the idea of the commons as a resource for the community to provide for the everyday public life of urbanized areas. That program is land value taxation (LVT) . Initially, three communities will have the opportunity to apply for permission to use the program, with more to follow if LVT is proved successful.


What is LVT

Connections, Community and the Pursuit of the Commons

July 20, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

At one point in my life, my neighbors and I were fighting battles on two fronts to protect our community. Our modest Kingfield neighborhood in Minneapolis was threatened on one side by the widening of a freeway, which would rip out scores of homes, and on the other side by the widening of an avenue, which would escalate traffic speeds on an already dangerous road.

How to Create Wealth: Monetary, Spiritual or Psychic

July 20, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

One of the sharper satirical jabs in People, a recent play by the English writer Alan Bennett, occurs when a consortium of wealthy investors decides to purchase Winchester Cathedral. “I know it’s pricey,” says an absurdly practical-minded archdeacon, “but Winchester is such a good idea.” “Isn’t it?” replies the consortium’s smooth-as-silk agent.

How the Commons Can Make a Difference in One Community

July 10, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

As part of On the Commons’ efforts to strengthen commons connections and reinvigorate public life in communities, I was invited to Winona, Minnesota—a city of 27,000 on the Mississippi River 135 miles south of Minneapolis. During a two-day residency sponsored by Winona State University, I met with the newly elected mayor, a city council member, the director of parks and recreation, business owners, citizen leaders and university students, and faculty and staff. I also spoke to four classes, participated in media interviews, and gave a public talk.

Commons Strategies Can Transform Your Hometown

July 10, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

An Opportunity for Your Community


The time-proven practices of the commons can transform where we live and how we live, That’s why On the Commons focuses on Public Life & Placemaking and regularly visits communities for talks, workshops and residencies about strengthening community connections and opportunities.

How One Neighborhood Illuminates Our Hopes and Fears for the Future

July 9, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

You may get a glimpse of our future by strolling the tree-lined streets of South Bend, Indiana, between the University of Notre Dame campus and downtown. That few people ever make that walk—too far, too slow, too dangerous—doesn’t diminish the importance of places like this in determining the fate of America and, perhaps, the earth.

Down on the Corner

July 9, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

You may get a glimpse of our future strolling the tree-lined streets of South Bend, Indiana, between the University of Notre Dame campus and downtown. That few people ever make that walk—too far, too slow, too dangerous—doesn’t diminish the importance of places like this in determining the fate of America and, perhaps, the earth.

Our New eBook: How to Design Our World for Happiness

July 5, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

We are witnessing a significant social shift in which people are rediscovering common connections and recognizing the collaborative power we share for strengthening our communities.


On the Commons documents these examples of the commons in action in our new guide to placemaking, public space and convivial living by Senior Fellow Jay Walljasper, who writes, speaks, and consults nationally about this emerging trend. CLICK HERE to download your free copy of How to Design Our World for Happiness.

How to Design Our World for Happiness

July 5, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

We are witnessing a significant social shift in which people are rediscovering common connections and recognizing the collaborative power we share for strengthening our communities.

Rajendra Singh

Rehydrating India's Dry Rivers

June 24, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Rajendra Singh, founder of Tarun Bharat Sangh, (TBS, or Young India Association), always wanted to be a farmer. Bowing to family pressure, he studied to be a doctor of traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine and after school moved to the Alwyn district in the arid state of Rajasthan. Singh was not simply practicing medicine, he wanted to test some ideas about healing ecosystems.

Commoning Flourishes Around the Globe

June 24, 2013 | By Jessica Conrad

Last month we had the opportunity to attend the Economics and the Commons Conference in Berlin, where commoners from around the globe gathered to discuss the commons as a worldview and practical approach for addressing today’s most pressing problems.


At the conference we were inspired by the sheer number of people working to protect and advance the commons all around the globe, and we would like to highlight the breadth of the commons movement here.

The Huge Difference Between Republicans and Democrats

June 18, 2013 | By David Morris

One hopes that in next year’s elections, the stark evidence emerging from state capitols about the difference between the parties can lay the foundation for a nationwide debate on the purpose of government in American life.

The Next New Economy

June 17, 2013

At half past three in the morning, Alec Johnson rolls out of bed, puts on his Metro Transit uniform, and walks a block to one of Nice Ride’s bike sharing stations in the Seward neighborhood. He unlocks a neon green bike and pedals down the Midtown Greenway, a former railroad corridor in Minneapolis that now holds biking and walking paths, to 32nd Street and Nicollet Avenue. After docking the bike at another nearby Nice Ride station, he pulls a bus out of the Nicollet Garage and starts his first shift.

Learning to "Commonify" Your Mind

June 17, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

How can we organize ourselves for human and ecological survival? And what solutions do the commons, both historic and emerging, offer toward survival?


These are two of the most urgent questions before us today

A Huge Win for the Commons

June 17, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

In a major triumph for protecting genes as a commons, the US Supreme Court ruled last week that human genes cannot be owned and must be available to anyone for study and medical innovation. The case involved a Utah company, Myriad Genetics, that had claimed patents on “breast cancer susceptibility genes,” which gave the company a monopoly on a $3,000 diagnostic test that could detect heightened risk of getting cancer. The patents were widely criticized for impeding breast cancer research and stifling cheaper, more competitive diagnostic tests.

The Cat’s Out of the Bag and Now I Must Take it Even Further

June 14, 2013 | By Camille Gage

Douglas Kearney is a poet, performance artist, and singer, as you can see on YouTube. His second manuscript, “The Black Automaton,” was chosen by Catherine Wagner for the National Poetry Series and published by Fence Books in 2009. It was also a finalist for the Pen Center USA Award in 2010.

Foodopoly

June 9, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Wenonah Hauter, who works on the political frontlines to ensure safety and health of Americans’ food as director of Food & Water Watch, details the threat that huge unaccountable agribusiness corporations pose to the public health and the natural environment in her new book “Foodopoly”:http://www.foodopoly.org/.

Youth Center in a Midwest Town Run as a Commons

June 6, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

In downtown Northfield, Minnesota, you’ll find The Key—the longest running youth-run youth center in the country. Founded in 1993 by the Northfield Union of Youth, it was named for one of the founders who died unexpectedly before the center opened.


Powered entirely by the sustainable energy of young people, The Key is an at-risk youth center of the youth, by the youth, and for the youth. In other words, the Key is a commons. It’s something we all own together. Every youth, like me, who walks into the Key is an owner.

Why I No Longer Give Away My Music

June 6, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

In 2006 I gave my music away. That music had previously existed on CDs and LPs (yes, I began making music in the days of vinyl and tape). I moved all of it to the Web, downloadable for free.


Today, seven years later, I see that giving away music for free is not as easy as I had imagined. In some ways, it turns out to be impossible. The reasons why this is so say a lot about creativity,property, and power in a networked world of corporately owned digital commons policed by netbots and stochastic algorithms.