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July 30, 2010

On the Commons and the 2010 U.S. Social Forum

June 2010 – Detroit, Michigan

In late June of 2010, On the Commons went to Detroit to participate in the U.S. Social Forum, a large-scale gathering of people committed to making history by transforming American society.

The focus of the event was to find equitable solutions to ongoing economic and ecological crises by building “a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement.” The week-long forum—inspired by the World Social Forums held in Brazil, India, Kenya and other countries—attracted roughly 10,000 participants.

Reclaiming the commons was a major theme of the Social Forum in 2010, and, to that end, On the Commons hosted a number of workshops and a People’s Movement Assembly to showcase the links between the commons and equity, participatory democracy, and ecological stewardship. During the assembly, we united participants from the U.S. and global south to restore a direct and life-giving relationship between communities and the shared resources necessary to their survival and well being.

The one hundred individuals who participated represented the various groups co-sponsoring our assembly, as well as a few others. Together, we wrote a framing document to help guide our conversation about what can be achieved at the community level through local commons solutions and organizing efforts, and what fundamental change these strategies can help us imagine for the future. Through a creative and interactive process, participants explored the power of commons work by sharing stories, mapping a range of approaches to claiming and protecting the commons, and discussing challenges.

Our goal was to leave the forum with a deeper sense of shared purpose, aligned strategy, and new relationships that would help us all support further collaboration—and we did. We also wrote and shared a resolution with the full body of U.S. Social Forum participants. This document prompted a diverse group of individuals to support commons-based solutions.

You can learn more about On the Common’s current work inspired by the U.S. Social Forum in our blog called “Equity and the Commons”:http://www.onthecommons.org/work/equity-and-commons.