A #CommonsQuest is a fun, global treasure hunt where we explore, inventory, and assess the state of our common wealth. Our shared assets include global commons like the deep seas, poles, atmosphere and internet. It also includes things like the water you drink, your parks, your native biodiversity, your neighborhoods, your food seeds, your culture.

With rare exceptions, global commons, subsistence commons, indigenous lands and traditions, public property, and other community wealth are considered free for the taking. They are overrun by free riders, privatizers, and other types of colonizers. Your common wealth has been so colonized that likely you have forgotten it ever existed.

Research on existing commons that are governed as commons (natural and cultural resources governed by user communities) proves there’s a tremendous cache of practical methods to steward & share a community’s wealth successfully. Our intention is to make this invisible cache accessible to you by creating CommonsScope, a macro and micro scope for the commons. CommonsScope will feature a commons directory, collections of commons-related maps, data visualizations, and open data, and tools to help you create and reclaim commons.

We invite you to co-create CommonsScope with us. There are several ways to help:

1. Contribute money to our Indiegogo campaign to fund the development of CommonsScope.

2. Join CommonsScope’s team of curators, editors and ongoing content creators.

3. Host a Commons#Quest

How to host a #CommonsQuest

Who. Before deciding on a venue, you need to decide how big an event you want to host. You can make the event as small or large as you want. You can have a #CommonsQuest conversation in your home or a friend’s home or you can invite your whole tribe, neighborhood, or city.

When. Host a #CommonsQuest whenever it works for you and your community. Weeknights, Saturday or Sunday only, or even a full weekend event are great options that will allow many people to attend.

Where. You can host a #CommonsQuest anywhere in the world or online. Simply choose a location, time, date, and people to invite. Places to meet can be your home, a pub or coffee shop, a maker or co-working space, a community center, church, park, or public library. You will need a place where you can hear each other talk. If the event is open, consider a place that is near public transportation and that is accessible to people with mobility challenges (i.e. wheelchairs). Depending on what you choose to do at your event, you might need access to wifi & electricity.

For an online event, find a collaborative work space where people can communicate like Skype or Google hangout. A place for collaborative working documents might also be helpful.  There are many options to choose from including titanpad, Googledocs, or even a wiki.

You don’t have to be at a #CommonsQuest with friends to participate. You can answer the surveys on your own anytime during the campaign!

What.  Decide what you want to do at your event. Your choices include:

A. Have a critical conversation about your community’s common wealth

B. Participate in research and development (R & D) for the commons directory

C. Have a potluck with either A or B!

To enhance your conversation or research and get a grounded understanding of the commons and its value proposition, read this article by David Bollier, The Commons as a New-Old Paradigm for Governance, Economics and Policy: Part 1 & Part 2. Give the links to the people you invite. Consider making a few copies in case some aren’t able to read it prior to the event. For even more info about the commons, see our Recommended Reading list.

Option A: Conversation about Your Community’s Common Wealth

Explore five important questions about your common wealth. They can be found here (at SurveyMonkey) or Common Wealth Survey (pdf). Make sure someone from your group documents the highlights of your conversation here (at SurveyMonkey). This survey is time-limited and will close on January 2nd, 2015. 

Facilitation. If your gathering involves more than a handful of people consider having a facilitator and time-keeper. They can help create a container for a successful conversation. A facilitator helps the group process by giving everyone a chance to speak, especially the people who are quiet or not as quick to offer their opinions. A timekeeper watches the time spent on a particular discussion item and gives notice when the time is up. The group decides how much time to spend on each item. More time can always be added.

Break-out Groups.  For larger groups, consider dividing into smaller groups to explore some questions. Set a time limit for the small group discussions. Have one person from each group report back to the large group before resuming the large group discussion.

Tools. Butcher paper or paper you can stick onto the walls and markers or crayons can help with note-taking for small and large groups. It’s also helpful if you want to map your community’s wealth.

Agreements. Consider using these simple agreements:

  • Listen respectfully
  • One speaker talks at a time
  • Step up, step back. Avoid dominating the conversation. Make space for people who are not outspoken.

For more information about facilitation and group processes see Organizing For Power.

Option B: CommonsScope Research & Development (R & D)

The R & D survey is in-depth research and documentation of specific commons or things that should be commons. This information will be used to create commons profiles that will be featured on the CommonsScope website. This survey is currently open-ended and will be available into 2015. The essentials of this process include:

Choose an event focus. This can be open-ended, allowing people to choose whatever they wish to research. You can also specify a focus on local or regional commons or on a type of commons (i.e. digital, indigenous, ecological, state trustee). You can also choose from our list of probable commons or hunt for commons in places like David Bollier’s blog, Shareable, Shareable’s #Mapjam maps, OnTheCommons, P2PFoundation, The Wealth of the Commons, or the Digital Library of Commons.

Choose a specific commons. The R & D survey features 40 questions. You might want to do the research prior to filling out the survey. You can use this pdf. When you’re ready to document your findings, the live survey can be found here.

If you participate in a commons, please consider telling the world about it. Tell other people you know who participate in commons about the campaign so they can create a profile for their commons.

If you choose to do R & D at your event, make sure you have access to wi-fi and to let people know to bring a computer, smart phone or tablet in order to do research and document your findings in our surveys.

Option C: Join the #GlobalPotluck

Food, food seeds, and agricultural knowledge are fabulous examples of your community’s common wealth. Food nourishes our bodies and our communities. We need it to survive. Sitting down to share food with your tribe is a symbol of common wealth in every culture in the world. Plus, a potluck is a great example of an informal commons. People share food and drink, sometimes collaborate on a menu or theme, and frequently help with set up and clean up. Check out “How to host a potluck” if needed.

The food systems you rely on are in the process of being captured by corporations. If left unchecked they will privatize the entire food system so that we become completely dependent on buying seeds and food from them. They are trying to make it illegal for farmers to do what they have for countless generations – grow food to feed communities and save seed to plant the next year. Food is life. Seed is life. Community is life.

And besides, one of the best reasons to share food at your event is, it’s fun!

Promote the CommonsScope Indiegogo Campaign

Regardless of what you choose to focus on at your event, please tell people about CommonsScope and let them know about the Indiegogo campaign to fund the website development. Consider having a computer people can use to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign during your event.

Promote your event

First, add your event (or yourself if you’re working solo) to the #CommonsQuest map.

Create a Facebook event, invite people through Eventbrite, send your friends an email, or call them. Send a reminder to people a couple days before the event.

Depending on the size of your event, consider creating and distributing a press release to radio and television stations, listing your event in a local newspaper, putting up posters at the coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, and the event venue. Pass flyers out at parties, rallies, or other events.

During your event take photos and share them on our campaign facebook page and Twitter using the #CommonsQuest & #Globalpotluck hashtags.

The #CommonsQuest crowdsourcing campaign and the CommonsScope Indiegogo campaign will conclude on Dec. 21st, 2014. Crowdsourcing of content for the commons directory will continue when we launch the new CommonsScope website!

If you need support during the #CommonsQuest campaign, email us at contact at commonsparkcollective dot org.

Bon Voyage!

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