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Reinventing the Commons: Designing Social Ecosystems for Local Stewardship & Planetary Regeneration
Montague Common Hall ("Grange")
Montague, MA
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Reinventing the Commons: Designing Social Ecosystems for Local Stewardship & Planetary Regeneration
Despite all its benefits, more and more of us recognize that the dominant capitalist economic model based on the short-term self interest of a privileged few degrades both the social systems and the ecosystems upon which we depend.  What feasible alternatives exist?  This workshop explores the tangible potential of the commons as a practical and fair system of local provisioning, governance, and culture for transforming society and healing damaged ecosystems.

From early in human cultural evolution until only a few centuries ago, the vast majority of resources were held and managed in common.  Defined groups of people formed agreements about how to share and manage specific resources, from woodlands and farm fields to pastures and water and they managed those resources sustainably for generations.  It took the privateers hundreds of years to consolidate control of state and market structures so they could dismantle the commons systems of Europe and then the rest of the world.  The unbridled privatization and commoditization of commons that began the Industrial Revolution continues today, with catastrophic results for planetary ecosystems and social well-being.

Reinventing "commoning" can begin to counterbalance these market and state forces, and regenerate the social and ecological wealth that is our collective heritage.  Commons systems provide human-scaled social structures for shared resource management and nurturing community.  They foster regenerative stewardship, ethical long-term relationships, and the common good.  Commoning requires cultures of skillful social negotiation and coordination, and the development of trust and shared purpose.  The question is: How can we consciously, creatively, and practically adapt and reintegrate practices and patterns of commoning into our modern cultural contexts?  This evening talk and participatory two-day workshop will engage that question.

The Friday evening Nov. 9, 2018 public talk will run from 7-9 PM and will introduce the essence of the problems we face and how commoning can help us respond.  We'll also explore some of the history, principles, and concepts of commoning as a new and old social form, and examine a few case studies of commons systems that can inspire and offer us practical direction.  You can register for the Friday evening talk by itself and come away with new eyes, hope for a better future, and sense of how we might get there.

The Saturday-Sunday workshop (8:30 - 5 on Saturday 11/10 and 9-4 on Sunday 11/11) will include and build on Friday evening's talk through lectures, discussions, exercises, and case studies in an environment fostering co-learning and co-creation.  How do principles of ecology and the commons converge?  What do commons systems entail philosophically and experientially, and imply politically and culturally?  What contemporary, cross-cultural examples exist?  We'll also engage with designing commons systems on a four-acre homestead where the owners aim to share their land with a community of people in a practical, functional, and ecological manner.  Workshop leaders Dave Jacke and David Bollier will combine forces and ideas with participants to see what we can learn together as we reinvent commoning here and now.

You can attend the Friday night talk by itself, or come for Friday night and the Saturday-Sunday workshop as a package.  PLEASE NOTE that any amount registrants pay above the base price for the weekend automatically goes into our in-house scholarship fund. This allows those of means to pay more and subsidize those who cannot afford the full base price.  Please be generous if you can when you register!

Dave Jacke has studied and practiced ecological culture design since the mid-1970s.  Since writing the now-classic tome Edible Forest Gardens with Eric Toensmeier, he has come to firmly believe that we must spend at least as much time designing ecological human social structures as ecological landscapes.  Dave's research on ancient land use in Britain led him to appreciate the long, close relationship between commoning and land management practices like coppicing, both of which will likely become essential in the near future.

Independent scholar, activist, and blogger David Bollier focuses on the commons as a new paradigm of economics, politics, and culture.  He works primarily as co-founder of the Commons Strategies Group, an advocacy/consulting project, and as Director of the Reinventing the Commons Program at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  Bollier has written or edited eight books on the commons, including "Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons" (2014) and, with co-editor Silke Helfrich, "Patterns of Commoning" (2015).  He and Silke are currently finishing "Free, Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons", due out later this year or early next.  David lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, and blogs at


Montague Common Hall ("Grange") (View)
34 Main St.
Montague, MA 01351
United States


Education > Workshops

Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!


Owner: Dynamics Ecological Design
On BPT Since: Oct 29, 2016
Dave Jacke

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