This draft treatise is compiled from notes recorded at Ogallala Commons inaugural Commoners University on June 22-23, 2009 held at Casa La Entereza in Nazareth, Texas. (Sources of the notes were the participants: Andy Wilkinson, Father Ken Keller, Erin Hoelting, Darryl Birkenfeld, Julie Boatright, and Kim Barker.)
I. What is the commons?
Anyone who sees the world through the lens of economics is likely to see humanity as an unruly mass of selfish individuals clamoring for as much as they can. It’s a dog-eat-dog jungle that is only constrained by the rule of law and government.
We’ve all seen the bumper sticker, "The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth." A pithy tagline meant to point out that human culture must align itself more closely with ecological imperatives. But is that a simple moralistic claim or a scientific, demonstrable fact?
A handful of psychologists are starting to conclude that human consciousness has a deep interconnections with nature — and that interfering with our sense of place and love of nature can cause severe emotional distress.
I went to the movies last Saturday evening, and I discovered just how truly degrading and repugnant the experience can be. I’m not talking about the movie itself (the delightful Julie and Julia) nor the audience, which was well-mannered to a fault.
One of the more pernicious enclosures of the commons is the enclosure of time and consciousness. It’s pernicious because it is so subtle and rarely discerned. When commercial values such as productivity and efficiency become so pervasive and internalized, they crowd out other ways of being. Our very sense of humanity — full-bodied, spontaneous, spiritual — leaches away.