How far we’ve come in ten years! In 2004 a number of us at the Tomales Bay Institute – the predecessor to On the Commons – tried to get a number of small communities to conduct what we called “local commons surveys.” The idea was to encourage people to make their own inventory of the many overlooked commons that touch their everyday lives, and especially those that are threatened by enclosure. By making commons more visible, we reasoned, people might begin to organize to defend them. It was a great idea, but only one or two communities actually got it together to survey their local commons. A valiant experiment with modest results.
Now we are the midst of a veritable explosion of commons mapping projects. In October alone, there have been two loud thunderclaps of activity along these lines -- the MapJams organized by Shareable.net and Ville en biens communs in France.
The MapJam took place this month in over fifty cities in the US, Europe, Australia and Arab nations. The process consisted of people meeting up to share what they know about sharing projects in their communities. They ten categorized the results, co-created a map and spread the word. It’s all part of the new Sharing Cities Project launched by Shareable.
Many of the new cartographers of the commons are overlaying specific sharing projects and commons on top of Google Maps. Here, for example, is a map from Share Denver. And here is the map from Sharing City Berlin.
As if by cosmic coincidence, hundreds of self-organized commoners in dozens of communities in France and Francophone nations recently participated in a similar exercise. Hosted by Villes en biens communs, many communities produced maps while others hosted workshops, experiments or convivial meet-ups. All of them focused on the commons.