“The commons means: Things we share/ Places we share/ Systems we share/ Ideas we share/ Culture we share”
Peter Barnes, On the Commons co-founder

Craft can join the campaign to make a powerful commentary on what society stands to gain from acting to protect and reclaim our global commons.

We are currently organising a national touring exhibition on the theme of the commons. Through new commissions makers can highlight the issues, contribute their thought leadership and participate in a call to action.

The exhibition will highlight acts of ‘commoning’ that are shaping the way communities are working together to share and steward commonly owned assets and resources. It will also investigate craft as a form of commons (through knowledge, materials, practice, heritage).

 

Why the commons?

We are currently witnessing the increasing privatisation of publicly owned assets in the UK. Many areas are experiencing the erosion of local common resources (e.g. parks and libraries).

Some countercultural movements that have emerged in recent decades have begun to challenge corporate forms of enclosure. They champion the sharing economy, peer to peer economy, open source and social charters to reclaim the commons.

In ‘Mapping the New Commons’ Charlotte Hess suggests that divergent disciplines, political interests, and geographical regions are increasingly finding the term ‘commons’ crucial in addressing issues of social dilemmas, degradation, and sustainability of a wide variety of shared resources.

Historian Peter Linebaugh has popularised the term ‘commoning’ which in modern times is about activating the power of social cooperation to get things done. We are currently organising a national touring exhibition and festival on the theme of the commons through the lens of craft and making.

Commons leader Julie Ristau describes how “the act of commoning draws on a network of relationships made under the expectation that we will each take care of one another and with a shared understanding that some things belong to all of us. The practice of commoning demonstrates a shift in thinking from the prevailing ethic of “you’re on your own” to “we’re in this together.”

 

Further reading

If you’re interested in being part of this project or just want to find out more here are some links you may find useful:

Types of commons Useful intro, plus good short video introduction to knowledge commons.
Commons Thinking by Justin Kenrick
Article by Leila Dawney: Commoning and the production of common worlds
Article by Max Haiven: Creativity and the Commons
Article by Amy Twigger Holroyd: Why it’s important to be open