People constantly ask me for a definition of the commons as if a short sentence or two could begin to encapsulate the vastness and variety represented by the term “commons.” So as a quick introduction to the many dimensions of the commons -- the inner and outer worlds to which "the commons" merely points to -- let me recommend this seven-minute film, “Seven Short Films on the Commons,” (A thanks to Silke Helfrich for bringing this to my attention!)
The film(s) were produced by Amar Kanwar and the Foundation for Ecological Security, a leading advocacy group for the commons in India. The vignettes of each film are a lovely evocation of what the commons truly means to commoners in India. This is an important task -- naming and evoking the commons -- because governments and businesses of the modern world cannot see or generally refuse to recognize the commons. They are too focused on individuals shorn of social community, private property rights, and market growth.
Here are the seven succinct declarations made by each short film:
1. Recognize the signature of our commons! The film flashes words on the screen referring to things we depend upon and share without realizing it: the air, folk dances, butterflies, playgrounds, the wind, grandma’s cure, the Internet. The list goes on.
2. Recognize the Reciprocity of Our Commons! The film notes how different elements of nature of which we are a part are interdependent....which leads to another point:
3. Recognize that Our Commons are a Web of Life!