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April 11, 2008

Sign of the Times

Introducing a new symbol for the commons

Take a look at the image that appears here. We believe it conjures a wide range of feelings, ideas and actions associated with the commons. Tomales Bay Institute (now known as On the Commons), working with designer Jeff Berg, came up with this symbol, which can designate a wide array of commons work.

Unlike corporate logos, which are fiercely guarded by battalions of lawyers, this mark will not be treated as the private property of just one organization.

Because the commons represents a fresh approach to culture and society—springing up in many places, taking countless different forms, offering varied meanings to diverse groups—we want a unifying mark that evokes the full breadth of this activity.

We also want this to be a “social signal” that speaks to all kinds of people in a simple, direct way. It’s a widespread myth today that ideas spread through the culture primarily as information, data, policy proposals or conceptual breakthroughs. That’s not how human beings naturally discover something new, nor how we convey our excitement to others.

Stories and visual images are the real engines of cultural transformation—catalysts that light a fire in people’s imaginations about what’s possible in the world. And those are the tools most needed in spreading the message about the commons.

For more about the commons mark see this link