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March 30, 2008

Welcome to the New OntheCommons.org

David Bollier on relaunching the website to be more participatory, timely and useful to you.

In our mission to advance the commons, we at OntheCommons.org have embarked upon a number of major changes that we are thrilled to share with you. You’re looking at the most visible change, our new online home! Re-conceptualizing and revamping the website has been a lengthy process, and we are excited about the new look and navigation of the site.

We are proud to offer a wide variety of editorial features, including “Commons Champions,” regular profiles of people doing important work on commons. You’ll also find two new departments: “Commons in Action,” which focuses on local commons work around the country and the world, and “Commons in the News,” which highlights coverage of commons issues in both mainstream and independent media. You’ll continue to find blogs and essays exploring new ideas and important developments related to the commons.


The biggest changes for the website are all the new opportunities for user contributions and discussion. We aspire for OntheCommons.org to become more of a participatory commons itself. For starters, I encourage every site visitor who wishes to become a member of this commons community to register on the site and post a profile. We’d like everyone to get to know each other better and start some new conversations. The profiles will help us connect with other commoners who share a particular interest, and locate content about particular types of commons (e.g., community gardens, federally-funded research, ocean fisheries). You will notice our new “tagging system” that gives keyword tags to all content so that highly specialized subjects can be easily located and retrieved.

To expand our coverage of the commons Jay Walljasper is joining me as an editor. Jay has a rich and varied background in magazines, including Utne Reader, where he was Editor for 15 years, and Ode magazine, where is currently a Senior Editor. Tomales Bay Institute coordinator Kathleen Maloney joins the site as a managing editor, handling illustrations and helping us deal with the many operational challenges. On the Commons Managing Fellow Julie Ristau, former publisher of Utne Reader who played a critical role in shepherding the website redesign to completion, also joins the editorial team.

And we think of all of you as part of team, too. It is our fervent desire that OntheCommons.org become a place for conversation and community. We consider you, our readers, to be at the core of a new type of cultural outlook and economic critique—leading players in a new sense of social connection and political reconstruction. So we encourage you to comment on material on the site and to get involved in the user-oriented Topics. If you have any questions, suggestions or criticisms, please send them along to any of us.

Another major change is a new name. The host nonprofit for OntheCommons.org—Tomales Bay Institute—is changing its name to the On the Commons. We hope that our new name will better communicate our mission and attract new partners and friends to help in this work.

We want to thank Andrew Sloat and his colleague Renda Morton for the fantastic design and construction of the website. They have put together a tremendously versatile and stylish site that will allow us to grow and, we hope, attract new fans of the commons.