Big Changes for CommonsScope

October 23, 2015 Ellen C. Friedman Uncategorized

Megan, Jim and I were slowly making progress developing a wiki to catalog commons when I discovered that the Commons Transition website had launched a wiki with the same purpose. Rather than duplicate efforts by continuing to develop CommonsScope, we decided to join the Commons Transition community as contributors. We shared our research identifying several hundred commons and are beginning to catalog them in the Commons Transition wiki and mapping their location on the TransforMap, a platform that maps the abundance of alternatives to the current economic system.

Besides the Commons Transition wiki and Law for the Commons wiki I wrote about recently, another important Commons Transition development is the Commons Transition plan. This plan is an expansion of the FLOK Society plan (Free/Libre Open Knowledge) developed by Michel Bauwens and a team of researchers to bring an open knowledge-based economic transition grounded in the values of the commons to Ecuador. The Commons Transition plan is a roadmap to move beyond the status quo market-state binary and towards “a commons-centric society in which a post-capitalist market and state are at the service of the citizens as commoners”. The plan calls for the creation of Alliances and Chambers of Commons and outlines policy changes that could lead to a commons-centric society. The plan is meant to be a starting place for communities to build a transition that is grounded in local culture, knowledge, challenges, opportunities and relationships.

The Commons Transition plan is being adapted for use in Europe and the United States. I traveled to Chicago to attend the October 10th gathering organized by Steve Ediger to lay the foundations for the Chicago Chamber of Commons. In Chicago, twenty commoners met at the ICA-USA Greenrise in Uptown where we explored the meaning of “commons” in a consensus workshop and collaboratively created an action plan to engage key Chicagoans and launch the Chicago Chamber of Commons in May 2016.

One of the more advanced and inspiring implementations of the Commons Transition plan is the Catalan Integral Cooperative (CIC). CIC is working to “unite consumer and labor initiatives” and “generate a self-managed, post-capitalist society based on P2P principles and environmental and social realities.” You can find out more about the CIC at the Commons Transition website or their own website.


The Emergence of Law for the Commons

September 29, 2015 CommonSpark Uncategorized

David Bollier recently published a 4-part strategy memorandum outlining 60+ examples of legal innovations in a new frame called “Law for the Commons”. David’s 4-part blog series is a little long but well worth the time to read as the implications are huge. If Buckminster Fuller were alive today, he might say that Law for the Commons is the new operating system that will make the current dysfunctional model obsolete.

Here’s a short list of the contents followed by relevant links:

Part I:  Introduction

Part II:  Legal Innovations in Beating the Bounds:  Nine Promising Fields of Action
1.  Indigenous Commons
2.  Subsistence Commons in the Global South
3.  Digital Commons
4.  Stakeholder Trusts
5.  Co-operative Law
6.  Urban Commons
7.  Localism
8.  New Organizational Forms
9.  Re-imagining State Policy to Empower Commons

Part III:  The Strategic Value of Developing Law for the Commons

Part IV:  Next Steps

Here are links to David’s blog posts, the Law for the Commons wiki, and videos from a recent conference on Law for the Commons in Germany (in English).

Reinventing Law for the Commons Part 1
Legal Innovations: Beating the Bounds Part 2
Legal Innovations: Beating the Bounds Part 3
Strategic Value of Developing Law for the Commons Part 4
Who May Use the King’s Forest? The Meaning of Magna Carta, Commons and Law in Our Time
Law for the Commons Wiki at Commons Transition
800 Jahre Commons: David Bollier
800 Jahre Commons: M. Bauwens
800 Jahre Commons: Discussion


Brief Commonsscope Update

August 7, 2015 CommonSpark Uncategorized

The CommonSpark team has been making slow but steady progress building a scaled down version of our original vision for Commonsscope. We decided to focus our efforts on what we consider to be the most critical piece of the project: a wiki where people can begin cataloging commons.

We expect to launch the wiki within the next few weeks.


Check Out Our Commons Maps & Bad Actors-Bad Outcomes Map Portals

March 28, 2015 CommonSpark Uncategorized

Our map portals “Maps in the Spirit of the Commons” and “Bad Actors-Bad Outcomes” have been published!

The commons map collection includes maps about food, water, the Great Lakes, sharing cities and much more. The Bad Actors-Bad Outcomes portal links to hundreds of maps related to human rights violations, the oil & gas industry, climate change, police violence, gentrification, and more. They are both huge eye-openers and an easy way to see the systemic problems and solutions.

Both mindmaps contain almost 300 links so they’re quite large. It’s easiest to navigate if you click the “collapse nodes” button, use the slider to zoom out/minimize, and then open one node at a time. You can open a larger version of the map by clicking on the title.


Maps in the Spirit of the Commons

Bad Actors – Bad Outcomes


Brief CommonsScope Update

February 26, 2015 CommonSpark Uncategorized

Since our crowdfunding campaign was not sufficiently funded to hire professional web developers, we have decided to create CommonScope in-house using WordPress. We’ll integrate the CommonsQuest surveys into the website for ongoing crowdsourcing of content for existing commons. We plan to launch the CommonsScope site within a couple of months.

We greatly appreciate the support we received and your patience!


An Invitation to Share Your Opinion

December 11, 2014 CommonSpark Uncategorized

Our fundraising campaign to create CommonsScope wraps up on Dec 22nd. Thanks to everyone who has already contributed! Every contribution brings us closer to creating a website that will help people see the commons and give us tools so we can begin to protect them.

“The value of the commons is beyond reckoning. Before we can protect it, though, we have to see it, and that is no small task. Of course, seeing the commons is only a first step; the ultimate challenge is to protect it.” ~ Jonathan Rowe

Click here to contribute to our fundraising campaign

In these historic times, we feel it is critical to take an accounting of our shared assets. Some people call these assets common wealth, or in an archetypal sense, the commons. We invite you to share your opinion on five important questions. Better yet, invite your friends to have a conversation and then tell us the highlights using our online survey. We’ll analyze the responses and report back after the new year.

Listen to David Rovics’ song, The Commons, for a little inspiration.

Here are the five questions:

1. What is your community’s common wealth?

2. What is the most critical common wealth to claim and protect at this historic moment? Why?

3. What common wealth needs to be off limits to privatization or any other form of enclosure?

4. How can your community restore accountability for the care of your common wealth?

5. How is reclaiming common wealth related to creating a just, livable, and peaceful future?

Click here to fill out our survey

We look forward to hearing your thoughts!



The CommonsScope Indiegogo campaign is LIVE!

November 7, 2014 CommonSpark Uncategorized

Our campaign to fund the development of CommonsScope and the 
#CommonsQuest campaign to crowdsource content for the commons directory has begun!

Co-create CommonsScope and help make the commons visible so we can begin the process of reclaiming all we share. You can participate in several ways:

1. Fund the development of CommonsScope

The unrestrained ability of corporations and the ultra-wealthy to turn common wealth into private wealth is the root of today’s multiple crises. This theft and destruction of all we share will continue unless we act. Your contribution to this campaign is critical. Reclaiming the commons starts with seeing the commons which is the reason we are building CommonsScope. Check out our Indiegogo page and the fun, informative and generative perks!

2. Host a #CommonsQuest & #GlobalPotluck

We need your knowledge and we have a fun way to contribute!  Your call to action is to embark on a quest to describe our cultural & natural jewels. During this quest, we’ll inventory our unseen assets and assess the health of our common wealth. Your knowledge will give birth to the commons directory that will live at the CommonsScope website.

Organize a #CommonsQuest & #Globalpotluck in your city or online. Gather your friends to share food and have a conversation about your common wealth and how to reclaim it. Research and document information about your community’s commons. If you participate in a commons, please consider telling the world about it. Check out the #CommonsQuest page for all the details. Add your #CommonsQuest event or yourself to the map.

3. Help us spread the word!

This project has the potential to help our communities reclaim the commons and our future!  We all become wealthier when this campaign succeeds!

Follow us on Twitter
Like CommonSpark on Facebook
Sign up for our email list

4. Become a member of the contributor-curator community

Get involved from the very beginning! The curator community will contribute, edit, curate, and translate the crowdsourced knowledge. A commons isn’t a commons without a community. Join the community today!

We all become wealthier when we recognize and reclaim our common wealth!




The Degrowth Conference & a new name for our project: CommonsScope!

September 16, 2014 Ellen C. Friedman Uncategorized

I’m just back from the Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Leipzig, Germany where 3000 scientists, activists, artists and practitioners gathered. People from 74 nations explored a wide range of topics and perspectives related to degrowth and social transformation including commons, climate justice, food sovereignty, anti-capitalism, indigenous initiatives, Transition, solidarity economy, new forms of democracy and much more. Check out the full program of about 400 events for more detail.

The conference is evidence of the emerging movement of movements, a nascent collaboration capable of addressing the multiple existential crises we face with diverse and practical solutions that can create a good life for all. Video can be found for many of the talks online. Opening plenaries by Albert Acosta & Naomi Klein, addressed the religion of growth and climate change as a civilizational wake-up call. Michel Bauwens, from the P2P Foundation and the Commons Strategies Group spoke eloquently about transitioning to a sustainable commons society.

The highlight of the conference for me was connecting with other people in the commons movement. I learned about many varied initiatives in Germany, Austria, Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Greece, France, England, Ireland, Turkey, and Finland. It was a refreshing oasis of commons thought & practice compared to the desert here in Texas. German and Austrian commoners launched the Transformap at the conference. Still in development, the team is creating a taxonomy for Open Street Map that will allow all the new economy map details to be featured on one many-layered map. We’ll use the Transformap in our upcoming website in 2015.

There’s big news on the Commons Atlas home front. The Commons Atlas has a new name: CommonsScope! CommonsScope is like a microscope for the commons. Besides focusing on maps & data visualizations, CommonsScope reflects our commitment to feature hundreds or even thousands of commons profiles.

We’re in the final stages of preparing to launch our long-awaited crowdfunding campaign. While we’re raising funds for the development of CommonsScope, we’ll also crowdsource information for the commons profiles. We hope you’ll join us for a #CommonsQuest, a global, distributed effort to document specific commons and what should be commons. We’ll share more about the campaigns soon!


Project Update June 2014

June 9, 2014 CommonSpark Uncategorized

We’ve been making huge progress on the Commons Atlas project since our last post.

We’re in the process of creating striking visualizations that will allow easy navigation of our commons maps, systemic threat maps and open datasets collections which keep growing by leaps and bounds and now feature almost 900 links. We’re using d3, a cutting-edge, open source, data visualization javascript library that utilizes a JSON format. You can check out the d3 library here. We’ve chosen to use the bilevel partition for these three visualizations. Here are a couple of beautiful examples:

Digital Commons Network

Which fossil fuel companies are responsible for climate change?

We’re getting very close to launching our long-awaited Indiegogo campaign! Besides crowdsourcing the funds needed to build the Commons Atlas and Directory knowledge commons, we hope you’ll join us for a grand treasure hunt! Soon you’ll be invited to host a party in your area or online to crowdsource data for the directory of commons.

Another big piece of news is that CommonSpark is now a nonprofit in the state of Texas. In the end of April, we filed for federal tax-exempt status with the IRS. We’re waiting on our letter of determination. If all goes as planned, your donations during the Indiegogo campaign will be tax-deductible.



What’s next for the Commons Atlas?

January 27, 2014 Ellen C. Friedman Uncategorized

The members of CommonSpark are ready to make the Commons Atlas a reality in 2014!

We are deeply engaged in the process of creating data and visualizations, including:

A Map of the Movement will help us see the better world that is bursting forth with new life from under the broken concrete that is business as usual. We are building an extensive list of commons and other initiatives from the sharing and solidarity economies. This data will be accessible through both maps and a searchable directory.

All Our Grievances are Connected will expose how all ecological, economic and social ills are connected to the commons. The commons is the common ground. It is a pragmatic, systems-level frame that will give us the ability to see the world with new eyes and help us create the paradigm shift that addresses the catastrophic, wicked problems that currently plague the world.

Privatized Public Resources will identify enclosures of public land, spaces, infrastructure, and cultural assets. This data will show the pervasive capture of our shared wealth by private entities. Currently, we only see the tip of this immense iceberg that tells the story of the greatest theft in the history of humankind.

Our Common Wealth will focus on the aspirational big picture of our shared ecological, cultural and social inheritance and their states of wellbeing. It is critical that we see what we share in order to claim our birthrights. Future generations of all living beings depend on us stepping into the role of steward of all we share.

The Commons Atlas also will serve as a portal to the existing commons-related maps and data visualizations, petabytes of open data related to the commons, and tools you can use to create your own visualizations and commons. You can get a small taste of what’s to come here on the CommonSpark website:

Commons Maps
Threat Maps
Open Data
Visualization & Collaboration Tools
Mapping & Commons Creation Processes

What can you do at the Commons Atlas website?

Discover. Explore the maps and data. Learn about real commons, how they work, their successes and challenges, and be inspired by how people successfully share.

Create. Use open data and the tools to create compelling visualizations. You can also visualize your own data and map local, regional, and global commons. Identify opportunities to form new commons and apply applicable processes. The wave of commons creation sparked by your creativity will transform the world.

Contribute. Contribute your knowledge to open maps and data. Add your maps and data to identify and strategically address local, regional or global threats.

Connect. Add yourself and your organization to the directory and share your successes and challenges. Identify commons-related organizations for employment or volunteer opportunities. Connect with other commoners.

Share. Use the maps, data, and tools to educate others in a classroom, online or in your communities. Share maps, data, and other resources through social media.

Stay tuned for the launch of our crowdfunding campaign and global data expedition coming soon! You’re invited to contribute your knowledge to the datasets and your money to a project that will create jobs in the commons sector and build an important and generative knowledge commons.

Keep up with the latest news about the emerging commons movement and the Commons Atlas on Twitter, Facebook, and email.


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