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COMMONS MAGAZINE

By the Catholic Church of England and Wales under a CC license. 

Will Pope Francis' Humanitarian Values Shape Church Policies?

December 16, 2014 | By David Morris

On December 10th the Vatican released the text of still another vigorous message by Pope Francis in support of oppressed workers.  “(M)illions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – are deprived of freedom and are forced to live in conditions akin to slavery,” he asserts.

By Mahat Tattva

By Mahat Tattva under a CC license

The Retail Jungle

December 15, 2014 | By David Morris

Every month the federal government issues a new jobs report.  Then, the stock market gyrates, pundits pundify, politicians politic.  Whether employment expands slowly or fast one central fact remains. The fastest growing occupations all pay low wages: retail salespersons, cashiers, food preparation and food service workers such as waiters and waitresses.   

By Chuck Grimmett under a CC license

Alaska Deftly Balances Privacy Rights and Public Interest

December 9, 2014 | By David Morris

Politicians left and right often use pet phrases to justify their positions:  states rights, individual liberty, personal responsibility.  Rarely are these consistently applied. 

Even more rarely do politicians or political parties offer a coherent framework for deciding when a higher level of government should preempt a lower level of government or when individual liberty trumps state regulation.  Which makes what has happened in Alaska so refreshing and instructive.  The issue addressed was the right of individuals to use drugs when the state outlaws their use.

Great city neighborhoods are often mid-rise, not high-rise. (By La Citta Vita under a

Great city neighborhoods are often mid-rise, not high-rise. (By La Citta Vita under a CC license) 

How to Create Commons-Friendly Neighborhoods

December 4, 2014 | By Jay Walljasper

Battle lines are shaping up across American cities and suburbs today over urban density.  On one side stand neighbors and developers who explain that convenient transit, walkable communities,  environmental protection and continuing economic growth depend on welcoming more people-per-acre to our communities. On the other side stand developers and neighbors who plead that everything we cherish about our communities is about to vanish in the wake of hulking mega-projects.

(By Jeremy Hunsinger under a CC license)

Hope For Imagining a World Beyond Corporate Control

December 4, 2014

The commons is not just a battlefield between corporate predators and those who resist them – it is also a source of hope for those willing to imagine a world beyond capitalism. It represents a space between the private market and the political state in which humanity can control and democratically root our common wealth. Both the market and the state have proved inadequate for this purpose. In different ways, they have both led to a centralization of power and decision-making.

By Moyan Brenn under a CC license

These Trails Are Made for Sharing

December 3, 2014

I love to hike. Some of the things I look for in a good trail are a physical challenge, wild nature, impressive terrain, and solitude.  I’ve hiked in some spectacular places with all of these features – Mount Rainer, the Smoky Mountains, Jackson Hole, Glacier National Park, and Old Pali Road in Hawaii.  These places all fill me with a sense of awe. Sometimes, I also feel a sense of unity or connectedness to a larger world -- an experience I seldom have while indoors.

By Alfredo Mendez under a CC license from flickr.com

Debating the Sharing Economy

November 21, 2014

The “sharing economy” has attracted a great deal of attention in recent months. Platforms such as Airbnb and Uber are experiencing explosive growth, which, in turn, has led to regulatory and political battles. Boosters claim the new technologies will yield utopian outcomes—empowerment of ordinary people, efficiency, and even lower carbon footprints. Critics denounce them for being about economic self-interest rather than sharing, and for being predatory and exploitative. Not surprisingly, the reality is more complex.

By Susan Sermoneta under a CC license

The Great Promise of Social Co-Operatives

November 18, 2014 | By David Bollier

The austerity agenda is often presented as inevitable, which is really just a way for corporatists and conservatives to dismiss any discussion or debate. “There are no alternatives!” they thunder.  But as Co-operatives UK demonstrates in a brilliant new report, there are a growing array of highly practical alternatives that are both financially feasible and socially effective. They are known as multi-stakeholder co-operatives, or more simply as “social co-operatives.” 

By Tripu under a CC license

Birth of A Movement for Healthier & Happier Lives

November 15, 2014 | By Jay Walljasper

There are few things more basic to human life than walking. 

We lost sight of this fact over recent decades, building new communities all over the world where moving on foot is dangerous or unappealing, if not downright impossible. That’s beginning to change now as research shows the simple of act of walking offers surprising benefits for our health, our prosperity and the vitality of our communities.

By Erik Soderstrom under a CC license

Walking is Going Places

November 15, 2014 | By Jay Walljasper

Walking is going places. 

Humans’ most common pastime--forsaken for decades as too slow and too much effort-- is now recognized as a health breakthrough, an economic catalyst and a route to happiness. 

Walking is Going Places

November 15, 2014 | By Jay Walljasper

Walking is going places. 

Humans’ most common pastime--forsaken for decades as too slow and too much effort-- is now recognized as a health breakthrough, an economic catalyst and a route to happiness. 

By Orin Zebest under a CC license

Democrat Candidates Lose. Democrat Issues Win

November 6, 2014 | By David Morris

On November 4th, Democrats lost big when they ran a candidate but won big when they ran an issue.  

In 42 states about 150 initiatives were on the ballot. While the majority of them did not address issues dividing the two parties (e.g. raising the mandatory retirement age for judges, salary increases for state legislators, bond issues supporting a range of projects), scores of initiatives did let voters weigh in on hot button issues.  And on these American voters proved astonishingly liberal.

By Alba Soler under a CC license

Our Children's Trust

October 30, 2014

An eight-year-old today asks “Will there still be snow when I grow up?” and we know that his question has merit.  The world is changing, and it’s not just about snow.  The world we’ll be leaving our children will be far more toxic and the natural world far less accessible than any other generation has ever experienced.   In addition to extinction of species, there will also be an “extinction of experience.”  

By Lieven Soete under a CC license

Economics As If Future Generations Mattered

October 23, 2014

We have turned a corner on climate change-- a wrong turn-- and it is happening more rapidly than we have predicted. Climate change is already disrupting society, ecosystems, and national economies. We have altered so much of our Earth that we now threaten our own survival. 

(By Steve Rhodes under a CC license)

Our Climate is Everyone's Property

October 20, 2014

Can an ancient legal principle with roots in Roman law serve as a tool for the climate protection movement?

Gustavo Esteva voices provocative views on human rights, economic development and flush toilets 

Mexico's Maverick Commoner

October 20, 2014

I recently went to Dublin to facilitate a "Thinkery" about the Commons.  The event was organized with  my Irish co-conspirators, Orla O’Donovan and Mary McDermott, to coincide with the launch of a special issue of the Community Development Journal devoted to the commons.  The participants were engaged and the discussions lively.

Copenhagen bikers have their own lane raised from the street. (By Spacing magazine under a CC license.)

Going Dutch and Danish

October 13, 2014 | By Jay Walljasper

Imagine a major city where 35 percent of all traffic is people on bikes. Or think even bigger--an entire nation where 27 percent of all trips are pedal-powered. 

This is not some Utopian vision of the commons dreamed up by a 24-year-old after too many handcrafted beers. These are real places located in modern societies with high levels of car ownership. Places not so different from the US named Copenhagen and the Netherlands.

Big Differences in Catalonia and Scotland on Independence

October 10, 2014 | By David Morris

Scotland and Catalonia are brothers in arms. Independence movement leaders in the two places communicate regularly.  On September 18, when Scotland voted on uncoupling from the United Kingdom, Catalans were on hand.  When Catalonia votes on independence, a vote originally scheduled for November 9th but delayed pending a court decision, Scots will certainly be there.

An Orchard Grows in Boston

October 8, 2014

Egleston Square is a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, straddling the borders of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain (JP) in the city of Boston. High condo prices and even higher rents are pushing long-term residents, to move elsewhere. This churning of the real estate market, to be expected in a profit-maximizing system, dissolves community and acerbates race and class divides. It is now common to hear of talk of “Two JPs”-– one prosperous, highly educated, professional and largely White, and another struggling, working class, mainly immigrant and Hispanic.

(By Dale Calder under a Creative Commons license.)

Linux for Lettuce

October 1, 2014

From a distance, Jim Myers looks like an ordinary farmer. Most autumn mornings, he stands thigh-deep in a field of wet broccoli, beheading each plant with a single, sure swipe of his harvest knife. But under his waders are office clothes, and on his wrist is an oversized digital watch with a push-button calculator on its face. As his hand cuts, his eyes record data: stalk length and floret shape, the purple hue of perfect heads and the silver specks that foretell rot. At day’s end his broccoli goes to the food bank or the compost bin—it doesn’t really matter.