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COMMONS MAGAZINE

Submission Guidelines

April 24, 2013 | By On the Commons Team

Thank you for your interest in submitting to Commons Magazine’s UNCOMMON/WORD: A collection of commons-inspired poetry. Submissions are now closed. The next submission period will open on April 1st, 2014.


Anyone contemplating a submission is encouraged to examine the magazine before sending a manuscript. To subscribe, click “here”:http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5475/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=7885.


What kind of work is Commons Magazine looking for?

Participate in the Great Lakes Commons Initiative

April 24, 2013 | By On the Commons Team

The Great Lakes are a gift we all share, a gift we are all responsible for.


If you’re invested in the health and well-being of these waters, please add your voice to the Great Lakes Commons Charter by answering the questions below.

  • Why do the Great Lakes matter to you?
  • What is our responsibility to and for them?
  • How can we best protect them?

An Update on the Great Lakes Tour

April 24, 2013 | By On the Commons Team

Council of Canadians Chairperson Maude Barlow, a longtime collaborator and a leader of the Great Lakes Commons Initiative, just visited the first five cities in a tour of seven.

I AM WATER

April 24, 2013 | By On the Commons Team

I AM WATER is a public art project created by Camille Gage, a Minnesota artist. It is an artful vehicle for lending your voice to the Great Lakes Charter and will result in a large, moveable, indoor/outdoor sculpture consisting of hundreds—perhaps even thousands—of paper ‘ripples.’ Each ripple will represent a voice added to the Charter and an individual who has pledged to be a steward of the Lakes. There are two ways to participate: online and by mail.

A Social Charter for the Great Lakes

April 24, 2013 | By On the Commons Team

What is a social charter, and how does it apply to the Great Lakes?


Historically, a social charter is a tool that communities have used to define norms, rules, boundaries, claims, and practices for protecting the commons. A social charter is a process that results in a living document.


We’re calling the social charter for the Great Lakes the “Great Lakes Commons Charter.”


The Great Lakes Commons Charter process

A Woman Ahead of Her Time

April 22, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Not many people have the imagination, intellectual depth and sheer courage to take on an entire profession and demonstrate how it is wrong. Jane Jacobs did. The renegade author and activist — who died in 2006 at age 89 — not only took on many such “impossible” challenges, she often prevailed. In her devotion to humanistic, small-scale solutions to big problems, Jacobs can be rightly understood as an early champion of what we now call the commons.

The Great American Commons

April 21, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

From my home in Missoula, Montana I can walk north 120 miles or so to the Canadian border. I do not need a permit, nor will I have to pay any fees. I can stay as long as I like, hike, camp, forage for food, fish (with a state license), marvel at the scenery, and drink straight from unpolluted mountain streams. Other than a couple of road crossings I will be on public land the whole time. I can do the same thing after a short drive, heading south, again walking for 100 or more miles well into central Idaho, without needing a permission slip or paying for the privilege.

Good News for the Common Good

April 17, 2013 | By David Morris

I’m not saying it’s time to break out the champagne and start chanting, “The people united will never be defeated”. But the past few weeks have brought us some heartwarming demonstrations that the popular will still has a bite.


February 22: Public Access to Publicly-Funded Research
After a major public outcry, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) directed federal agencies to make published results freely available to the public. Director John Holdren declared, “Americans should have easy access to the results of research they help support.”

Take the Commons Quiz

April 15, 2013

The commons is more than just natural resources or a set of theories and policies about how to improve society—it’s also about how we lead our lives day-to-day.


Are you a commoner? CLICK HERE to take our simple quiz and find out!

Commons Has Expanded, Not Shrunk, Over Past 200 Years

April 14, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

If you had asked the person next to you in New York or virtually any other city for a drink of water in 1825,they would have had a predictable response: go buy your own. It would be like today asking the person next to you for a Coke.


Water, safe and dependable water, was a private responsibility. Sure there may have been some public fountains or known springs, but the burden was on the individual or the family to obtain such a thing.

Yours, Mine & Ours

April 9, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Property is a mirror; the way we think about it says a lot about the way we think about ourselves. And the way Americans thought about property for much of our history is very different from what most politicians and economists profess today.

The Rise and Fall of Broadcasting as a Commons

April 1, 2013 | By David Morris

It’s easy to forget that the broadcasting airwaves are—and once were treated as—a commons, owned by citizens, not powerful media companies.

Bring On the Commons to Your College Campus or Community

March 27, 2013 | By On the Commons Team

It has become increasingly clear that “business as usual” is failing us economically, ecologically and socially. Today people yearn for a world that is more collaborative, equitable and enjoyable. This is especially true for young people, and over the past two years On the Commons (OTC) has worked with professors on college campuses to raise student awareness of the opportunities offered by the commons.

Bring OTC to Your Campus or Community

March 27, 2013 | By On the Commons Team

It has become increasingly clear that “business as usual” is failing us economically, ecologically and socially. Today people yearn for a world that is more collaborative, equitable and enjoyable. This is especially true for young people, and over the past two years On the Commons (OTC) has worked with professors on college campuses to raise student awareness of the opportunities offered by the commons.

Fighting Climate Change by Divesting from Fossil Fuel Companies

March 26, 2013 | By Jessica Conrad

There’s a national movement underway, and it’s gaining momentum. Inspired in part by Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone article and coordinated by the global grassroots organization 350.org, the Fossil Free campaign aims to convince “educational and religious institutions, city and state governments, and other institutions that serve the public good” to divest from fossil fuels.

On the Commons Goes to College

March 26, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Q: How would you describe the commons, which can at first appear abstract?


This is one of many great questions I was asked on a recent mini-West Coast tour that took me to Portland State University and Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. It’s why On the Commons is hitting campuses across the country—to explain that the commons is not some abstruse intellectual construct but a useful set of ideas and practices that point us in the direction of new solutions for issues in our communities and lives.

Our Common Wealth: Jonathan Rowe's Collected Writings on the Commons

March 23, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

I can remember the moment I first recognized the commons as a powerful tool to heal the Earth, reverse economic inequality and strengthen our communities. This article by Jonathan Rowe lit a fire in my head when I first read it in Yes! magazine. It’s the reason I am now doing what I do.

Our Hidden Wealth

March 23, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

My wife grew up in what Western experts, not without condescension, call a “developing” country. The social life of her village revolved largely around a tree. People gathered there in the evening to visit, tell stories, or just pass the time. Some of my wife’s warmest childhood memories are of playing hide-and-seek late into the evening while adults chatted under the tree.

What You Can Do to Stop "Democracy For Sale"

March 23, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

I wanted to write you with an update on what just happened recently on Capitol Hill.


First and foremost: the oil industry’s Senators did not manage to pass legislation in late March that would force President Obama to build Keystone XL.

To Fix Our Economy, Consult a Book from 1944

March 19, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Events of the past several years have altered some deeply rooted assumptions about economics and politics. The market-based worldview – a rosy vision of deregulation, privatization, free trade, limited government and few public services — has been discredited. Who can seriously talk about a “free market” and “freedom to choose” when taxpayers were forced to pay trillions of dollars to prop up right-wingers’ ideological fantasy?