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COMMONS MAGAZINE

Great Lakes Commons Map is a Tool for Building Awareness

September 3, 2013

Since starting the Great Lakes Commons Map, (GLCM) I’ve had many conversations with people about what a commons is and what a water commons is.


The Commons Map is a collaborative map, a crowdsourced project connecting those who care about the lakes and articulating what a Great Lakes Commons would be like. People can use text, photos, and videos to share their data, story, and curiosity, and it’s all grounded by place—by where it nests in the bioregion.

Four Circles of Judaism Help Us Live the Commons

August 27, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Life began in a bountiful “commons”, or so the Bible tells us.


In Eden, animals, vegetation, water, soil, humans were all part of the web of life. They all took from, gave to and were part of the riches of the earth. Each occupied its niche, regarding, engaging and complementing the other. The earth was a whole. Having been fashioned by a force beyond them all, it could not by right be claimed by any less than all.

A Multitude of Wonderful Things We Share But Rarely Consider

August 26, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

In his posthumous book, Our Common Wealth: The Hidden Economy That Makes Everything Else Work, Jonathan Rowe writes:


To get to San Francisco from where I live, I usually drive through the hamlet of Nicasio. It’s just a scattering of wooden structures around a community baseball field. The hills beyond are mainly ranches, not much changed from a century ago.

When Civil Disobedience Becomes Law Enforcement

August 26, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Two years ago I was among more than a thousand people who committed civil disobedience at the White House to oppose the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. Since then many more have been arrested around the country, often blocking the actual pathway along which the Keystone XL is being constructed. Nearly 70,000 people have vowed to risk arrest if the State Department recommends that the president approve the pipeline.

On Waiting and Writing

August 26, 2013 | By Camille Gage

Juliet Patterson is a Minneapolis-based poet, teacher, and community activist who serves as an advisor to Commons Magazine’s new poetry series, UNCOMMON/WORD. (Learn about our Arts and Culture department, how to submit to UNCOMMON/WORD, and more here.)

Commons-Based Ideas to Support Artists

August 24, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Every civilization needs art—statues and paintings, myths and stories, music and dance, which should be available to everyone. But artists and cultural workers need to eat, and if they share their work freely or cheaply, how will they make a living?


In many countries, national governments proudly support the arts. But in the U.S., public funding has never been strong, and declined a lot over recent years. Here are some commons-based methods for supporting the artists we depend upon, which ideally would augment more generous public funding.

I AM WATER

August 17, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

I AM WATER is a public art project created by On the Commons Artist-in-Residence Camille Gage. It is a vehicle for lending your voice to creation of a Great Lakes Charter.


The art project involves creating a large, moveable, indoor/outdoor sculpture consisting of hundreds—perhaps even thousands—of paper “ripples.” Each ripple will represent a voice added to the Charter and an individual who has pledged to be a steward of the Lakes.

Thank Your Local Placemaker

August 15, 2013

Last night, I left a couple love notes for my city.

The Tea Party Targets Public Libraries

August 8, 2013 | By David Morris

In September 2012 the Library Board of Pulaski County, Kentucky raised property taxes $1 per year for a typical homeowner to maintain the existing level of services in its five libraries. Voters were not given the opportunity to reject the increase; in 2006 however, they were and resoundingly approved a much larger increase to finance a new library.

Only Congress Can End Forty Years Of Insanity

August 2, 2013 | By David Morris

Act I: The People Press Their Case

Jay Walljasper's Speaking Schedule

August 1, 2013 | By On the Commons Team

“Greater Des Moines Neighborhood Conference”:http://rebuildingtogetherdm.wordpress.com/events/dmnc/
September 12, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm
Plymouth Church/Waveland Hall
4126 Ingersoll Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50312


“Built Environment and the Outdoors Summit”:http://www.kansasbeos.org/about-the-summit.html
September 25 – 26
Ramada Convention Center
420 East 6th Street
Topeka, KS 66607


Stay tuned for further details on Walljasper’s 2013 speaking engagements.

An Oregon Trail to End Student Debt

July 31, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

Last year the Oregon legislators unanimously passed and the governor signed a bill paving the way for students to attend public universities without paying tuition or taking out traditional loans at all.

Life in the Green Lane

July 29, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

How to describe your first time in a green lane? There’s nothing quite like it.


For me it happened on a business trip to Copenhagen. I saw bikes everywhere, beginning with the taxi ride from the airport where I spotted business executives toting briefcases on bikes, wanna-be fashion models wearing high heels on bikes, kids heading to school on bikes, parents pedaling toddlers to daycare on bikes, old folks chatting to one another on bikes.

Nature is an Open-Source Commons

July 25, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

One of the more provocative talks at the Economics and the Commons Conference in Berlin last May was Andreas Weber’s critique of the “bio-economics” narrative that blends social Darwinism and free market economics. Bioeconomics is the default worldview for contemporary economic thought, public policy and politics. The only problem is that, by the lights of the latest biological sciences, this narrative is wrong, seriously wrong.

Connecticut Passes Commons-Based Approach to Taxing Urban Land

July 22, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

On June 20, 2013, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law an act permitting – as a pilot program – a tax reform that turns traditional taxation on its head, as it also embraces the idea of the commons as a resource for the community to provide for the everyday public life of urbanized areas. That program is land value taxation (LVT) . Initially, three communities will have the opportunity to apply for permission to use the program, with more to follow if LVT is proved successful.


What is LVT

Connections, Community and the Pursuit of the Commons

July 20, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

At one point in my life, my neighbors and I were fighting battles on two fronts to protect our community. Our modest Kingfield neighborhood in Minneapolis was threatened on one side by the widening of a freeway, which would rip out scores of homes, and on the other side by the widening of an avenue, which would escalate traffic speeds on an already dangerous road.

How to Create Wealth: Monetary, Spiritual or Psychic

July 20, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

One of the sharper satirical jabs in People, a recent play by the English writer Alan Bennett, occurs when a consortium of wealthy investors decides to purchase Winchester Cathedral. “I know it’s pricey,” says an absurdly practical-minded archdeacon, “but Winchester is such a good idea.” “Isn’t it?” replies the consortium’s smooth-as-silk agent.

How the Commons Can Make a Difference in One Community

July 10, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

As part of On the Commons’ efforts to strengthen commons connections and reinvigorate public life in communities, I was invited to Winona, Minnesota—a city of 27,000 on the Mississippi River 135 miles south of Minneapolis. During a two-day residency sponsored by Winona State University, I met with the newly elected mayor, a city council member, the director of parks and recreation, business owners, citizen leaders and university students, and faculty and staff. I also spoke to four classes, participated in media interviews, and gave a public talk.

Commons Strategies Can Transform Your Hometown

July 10, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

An Opportunity for Your Community


The time-proven practices of the commons can transform where we live and how we live, That’s why On the Commons focuses on Public Life & Placemaking and regularly visits communities for talks, workshops and residencies about strengthening community connections and opportunities.

How One Neighborhood Illuminates Our Hopes and Fears for the Future

July 9, 2013 | By Jay Walljasper

You may get a glimpse of our future by strolling the tree-lined streets of South Bend, Indiana, between the University of Notre Dame campus and downtown. That few people ever make that walk—too far, too slow, too dangerous—doesn’t diminish the importance of places like this in determining the fate of America and, perhaps, the earth.