A 21st century commons:
from economic tragedy to reclaiming the streets

Julian Dobson, director, Urban Pollinators
“Commons” is becoming a charged word,
following a path similar to those taken by words
such as “sustainability” and “resil...
‘THE COMMON’
A PLACE TO BE FREE, BUT NOT A FREE-FOR-ALL
THE REAL TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS
...IS ENCLOSURE AND PRIVATISATION, NOT ACCESS AND AVAILABILITY
‘The inherent logic of the commons
remorselessly generates tragedy...
Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all’
Garrett Har...
‘Commoning has always been local. It depends
on custom, memory and oral transmission for
the maintenance of its norms rath...
THE ‘NEW COMMONS’ OF THE 21ST CENTURY
FROM PERMITTED ACCESS TO PRODUCTIVE VALUE
‘We are seeing a growing number of people
discovering what individuals working together,
developing self-governing skills,...
Education
Creative commons
Fashion

Internet

Knowledge commons

Indigenous culture
Music
Nonprofit organisations
Public a...
The new commons are characterised by
economies of the small scale: many people
working together to create public goods, us...
‘REGENERATION’: CREATING OR ERODING THE COMMONS?
REGENERATION HAS FOCUSED ON MARKET FAILURE INSTEAD OF RETHINKING MARKETS
‘The route to a more productive, dynamic and
sustainable economy in the UK begins when
people can live lives that fulfil th...
‘Only through a rethinking of the city commons
can we begin to take social capital seriously in
land use policy and law. I...
A CHALLENGE: OUR STREETS AS THE NEW COMMONS
CAN COMMONS THINKING MOVE FROM NATURAL RESOURCES TO URBAN ASSETS?
‘Within the community, the more persons who
participate in a dance, the higher its value to
each participant. Each added d...
‘The present decade has been marked by a
retreat from social concerns. Scientists bring to
our attention urgent but comple...
‘It is through the performance of creative acts, in
art, in thought, in personal relationships, that the
city can be ident...
Power without care creates blight. Care without
power fuels helplessness and frustration. This is
why a concept of steward...
thank you

www.urbanpollinators.co.uk
Twitter: @juliandobson
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A 21st Century Commons: from economic tragedy to reclaiming the streets

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This presentation, for the Shared Assets '21st Century Commons' event in London on 5 December, explores current thinking about the commons and considers how it challenges conventional views of urban regeneration and development.

Published in: Technology, Real Estate

A 21st Century Commons: from economic tragedy to reclaiming the streets

  1. 1. A 21st century commons: from economic tragedy to reclaiming the streets Julian Dobson, director, Urban Pollinators
  2. 2. “Commons” is becoming a charged word, following a path similar to those taken by words such as “sustainability” and “resilience”, raised as a banner under which an increasing variety of people and organisations which to place themselves. Dougald Hine, 2013
  3. 3. ‘THE COMMON’ A PLACE TO BE FREE, BUT NOT A FREE-FOR-ALL
  4. 4. THE REAL TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS ...IS ENCLOSURE AND PRIVATISATION, NOT ACCESS AND AVAILABILITY
  5. 5. ‘The inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy... Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all’ Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons, 1968
  6. 6. ‘Commoning has always been local. It depends on custom, memory and oral transmission for the maintenance of its norms rather than law, police and media.’ Peter Linebaugh, The Magna Carta Manifesto, 2008
  7. 7. THE ‘NEW COMMONS’ OF THE 21ST CENTURY FROM PERMITTED ACCESS TO PRODUCTIVE VALUE
  8. 8. ‘We are seeing a growing number of people discovering what individuals working together, developing self-governing skills, can accomplish independently of governments, corporations, or private owners.’ Charlotte Hess, Mapping the New Commons, 2008
  9. 9. Education Creative commons Fashion Internet Knowledge commons Indigenous culture Music Nonprofit organisations Public art Libraries Peer production Public domain Cultural commons Science Sacred spaces Sports activities and locations Markets as commons Tourism and travel Medical budgets Atmosphere Health commons Public healthcare Biodiversity MAPPING THE NEW COMMONS Community gardens Electromagnetic spectrum Global commons Housing Noise/ quiet Pavements Sharing economy Antarctica Gene pool Hospitals Gift economy Food security Knowledge, cultural and infrastructure commons Oceans Rivers Neighbourhood commons Waste management Security Water management Streets Agriculture Electromagnetic spectrum Fisheries Internet infrastructure Public radio Forests Infrastructure commons Traditional commons Wireless communication Transport infrastructure Grazing lands Land tenure and use Villages and social organisation Water and irrigation Wildlife Based on Charlotte Hess, 2008
  10. 10. The new commons are characterised by economies of the small scale: many people working together to create public goods, using resources wisely and effectively, and increasing a local and personal sense of agency and influence.
  11. 11. ‘REGENERATION’: CREATING OR ERODING THE COMMONS? REGENERATION HAS FOCUSED ON MARKET FAILURE INSTEAD OF RETHINKING MARKETS
  12. 12. ‘The route to a more productive, dynamic and sustainable economy in the UK begins when people can live lives that fulfil their potential and sustain their wellbeing. This will not happen when many are unable to contribute fully to the public good.’ ResPublica, Responsible Recovery, 2013
  13. 13. ‘Only through a rethinking of the city commons can we begin to take social capital seriously in land use policy and law. Instead of conceptualising the city as an aggregation of private property rights, we should instead seek to identify and protect common resources and interests in the city commons.’ Sheila Foster, The City as an Ecological Space, 2006
  14. 14. A CHALLENGE: OUR STREETS AS THE NEW COMMONS CAN COMMONS THINKING MOVE FROM NATURAL RESOURCES TO URBAN ASSETS?
  15. 15. ‘Within the community, the more persons who participate in a dance, the higher its value to each participant. Each added dancer brings new opportunities to vary partners and share the excitement.’ Carol Rose, The Comedy of the Commons, 1986
  16. 16. ‘The present decade has been marked by a retreat from social concerns. Scientists bring to our attention urgent but complex problems bearing on our very survival... We respond by demanding more details, and by assigning the problems to institutions ill-equipped to cope with them.’ Gro Harlem Brundtland, Our Common Future, 1987
  17. 17. ‘It is through the performance of creative acts, in art, in thought, in personal relationships, that the city can be identified as something more than a purely functional organisation of factories and warehouses, barracks, courts, prisons and control centres.’ Lewis Mumford, The City in History, 1961
  18. 18. Power without care creates blight. Care without power fuels helplessness and frustration. This is why a concept of stewardship must be at the heart of any vision to reclaim the land in our towns and cities for the people.
  19. 19. thank you www.urbanpollinators.co.uk Twitter: @juliandobson
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