Maps in the Spirit of the Commons
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a map is likely worth a thousand pictures. Since 2010, hundreds of commons and “new economy” mapping projects have sprung to life. By depicting thousands of innovative social, environmental and economic initiatives, these maps reveal the complex stories of new systems emerging through the cracks of the old like dandelions through broken concrete.
The maps serve many purposes at once. They help amass new groups of commoners by giving them shared digital platforms. As the maps become dense with user-contributed information, they show the growth of horizontal, participatory power, especially in reclaiming rights to manage shared resources. These resources include everything from valuable urban spaces and lakes to fruit orchards accessible to anyone, environmental projects and hackerspaces. The many maps depicting commons and people-centered economic projects tell the story of communities rejecting the status quo, reconnecting with the places they inhabit, and creating a renaissance through new relationships.
This map collection is a portal to several hundred commons-related maps including ones focused on urban commons, food, community land trusts, social movements, public assets, and indigenous cultures. Some of the more notable maps of specialized concerns include the Great Lakes Commons Map (a bioregional map of healing and harm), World of Commons (innovative forms of citizen-led governance of public property and services in Italy), Falling Fruit (a global map identifying 786,000 locations of forgeable food), a map of Free Little Libraries (free books available in neighborhoods around the world), a global Hackerspace map, a global Seed Map, a map of all Transition communities, and several Community Land Trust directory maps.
Thanks to many enterprising cartographers, a growing universe of commons and new economy maps is helping people see and reclaim all sorts of resources that have been systematically destroyed by colonial and capitalist cultures. The maps are also helping people create new forms of community self-governance and increase awareness of commons stewardship. Taken together, these maps tell the big story of this historic moment – how system-change originating from the grassroots is radically altering civilization from one that exalts private wealth to one where wealth is shared. The maps are far-seeing tools that empower us with the means to accelerate the emergence of a just and thriving world.