Next week, the Economics and the Commons Conference in Berlin, Germany – subtitled “From Seed Form to Core Paradigm” – will bring together some 200 commoners from more than 30 countries. The primary goal: to explore new ideas, practices and alliances for developing the commons as an alternative worldview and provisioning system.
There will be five separate “streams” of inquiry at the conference, each of them seeking to redefine policy and activism through the prism of the commons. These streams are Land and Nature; Work and Caring in a World of Commons; Treating Knowledge, Culture and Science as Commons; Money, Markets, Value and the Commons; and New Infrastructures for Commoning by Design.
Working with my colleagues on the Commons Strategies Group, Silke Helfrich and Michel Bauwens, the conference is being co-organized by CSG, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, The Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation and Remix the Commons. The event will be held from May 22 to 24 at the Böll Foundation headquarters in Berlin.
The good news is that there has been an overwhelming advance interest in the conference. The sad news is that physical capacity of the venue limits participation to 200 people. However, the opening sessions on May 22 will be open to the public, and many events from the conference will be streamed. Details will provided later at the conference communications platform / blog, which is already buzzing with postings and debate. There is also a lot of background material on the commons at the conference wiki.
Here is the text explaining the rationale for the conference:
One of the most significant impediments to positive social change is the entrenched power of market-fundamentalism as an economic and political paradigm. The prevailing dogma is that only a scheme of individual self-interest, expansive individual property rights, market exchange and globalized free trade can advance human well-being. This view has increasingly been called into question as the predatory dynamics of the market economy became clear and as its threats to the biosphere have become more acute.
….. A rich array of commons – in nature, cities, civic life, the Internet, and many other realms – are showing that commons can provide stable, equitable and ecologically benign alternatives to conventional markets. The Economics and the Commons Conference (ECC) will expand and empower this work by exploring the commons as a coherent field of inquiry and action. It will convene approximately 200 commoners -- researchers, practitioners and advocates from around the world -- to explore the relationship of conventional economics and the commons, showcase key actors and initiatives, and devise plans for moving the commons paradigm forward. Special care will be taken to avoid a “sectoralization” of commons discussion because we believe that a coherent “general narrative” of the commons nurtures global social change and applies across many different sectors of commoning.
Among the questions to be asked: What core principles of commoning can be identified across different resource domains? What makes a commons so generative? In what circumstances can commons-based provisioning models substitute for conventional markets, or interact constructively with markets? How can the protection and re-creation of the commons be made an integrated part of productive processes?
It is a sign of the robustness of the commons movement that no fewer than eight independent “side events” have been self-organized by participants on the days before and after the conference. Each side event seeks to dig deeper into a given topic in order to coordinate and galvanize future action. The side events include:
- Commons Culture Communications
- Commons for Public Health
- Commons Education Commons
- How to Change the International Rules for the Commons in Europe?
- Commons in Intentional Communities
- Commons Abundance Network - Post-conference
- Enabling a Global Climate Commons Pathway
- Post conference session, “How to Get There from Here?” hosted by the Commons Abundance Network
- Commons in Post-Soviet Areas – Dying or Transforming Towards a Modern Form of Commons?
Here’s hoping that some rich new ideas and partnerships emerge from several intense days of commoning in Berlin!