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Claiming the Commons

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 4 months ago

Claiming the Commons


Claiming the commons is a concept that can be useful when tacking large-scale issues in the global environmental commons, including air and water. It can also be employed to claim roads (for example) as public space and understand them as the connective tissue of our social world. Around the globe economic interests are seeking to create wealth by privatizing resources previously held by communities, while people fight to retain and regain control of the commons, and give shape, beauty and meaning to public space. How do these global forces shape issues in your home community?

"In our cities and towns, public spaces are the primary source of local identity and a vital component of the commons -- those areas of the civic realm that are shared by all citizens. In the countryside and between urban centers, the commons include our public lands and scenic vistas that give character and identity to the national landscape. Increasingly, these two distinct aspects of our shared wealth -- our public spaces and scenic landscapes -- face a common threat: commercial intrusion and usurpation of the public interest. You see it every day in commercial events that restrict access to our parks and squares, and in the proliferation of billboards that obscure natural beauty and destroy the character of our historic and scenic landscapes" http://www.pps.org/info/placemakingtools/issuepapers/preserving_the_commons


Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and sustaining public places that build communities. You can download diagrams their place diagrams and initiate the placemaking process in your community at http://www.pps.org/info/placemakingtools/downloads/place_diagrams.


"Claiming Public Space" is an information commons and archive for the public-interest art, architecture and design community: an on-line participatory design and collaborative works network whose aim is to stimulate dialogue, debate, and exchange from an international perspective. http://www.claimingpublicspace.net


In South America, private companies have taken over municipal water supplies in at least half a dozen countries, but there's one city where the takeover didn't go as planned. http://www.cbc.ca/news/features/water/bolivia.html


Claiming the Commons through "intellectual property rights" has become a huge issue in recent years. Vandana Shiva writes of this in an article on "Globalization and Poverty":


"Patents and intellectual property rights are supposed to prevent piracy. Instead they are becoming the instruments of pirating the common traditional knowledge from the poor of the Third World and making it the exclusive “property” of Western scientists and corporations.


When patents are granted for seeds and plants...theft is defined as creation, and saving and sharing seed is defined as theft of intellectual property.... Sharing and exchange, the basis of our humanity and our ecological survival, have been redefined as a crime. This makes us all poor.


Nature has given us abundance. Women’s indigenous knowledge of biodiversity, agriculture and nutrition has built on that abundance to create more from less, to create growth through sharing. The poor are pushed into deeper poverty by being made to pay for what were their resources and knowledge. Even the rich are poorer because their profits are based on theft and on the use of coercion and violence. This is not wealth creation but plunder." http://www.resurgence.org/resurgence/issues/shiva202.htm

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