The Natural Commons As A Community To Which We Belong, Rather Than A Resource To Be Exploited

These two articles explain the basics of Community Land Trusts.  The thought behind these is that communal ownership of the natural resources, particularly in relation to the land, enables them to be used in a more responsible manner as many of those who are affected have a say in how they are used.  The alternative, that private interests are allowed to own the land and use its resources how they see fit, often leads to a pillaging of the resources with minimal concern for the impact this has on the rest of the community.  Whilst predominantly used in relation to community housing projects there are developments that see the retaining of ownership of the land by the community also being used responsibly to encourage other opportunities that benefit the community as a whole such as agricultural and commercial projects.  The crucial aspect is that if the community as a whole owns the land, the community as a whole can set the terms by which it is used, and also revoke the right to use it:


Communities Rather Than Investors, Developing Rather Than Siphoning

Here’s a video that has a great brief explanation of how economics and power are interrelated in responding to the parable about teaching a man to fish.  As a suggestion off the back of this the article draws your attention to how a community can, through its governmental resources, enable an enterprise that benefits the community.  It does so through creating an investment cycle that cuts out any rentier investment entities (private investors who draw off the profits for themselves, meaning the money leaves the local community) and so passes financial benefits through members of that community (by giving them the opportunity and the profits in a more spread out way, making it more likely each will spend them within that community in some form).  This then serves to retain the benefits within the community and the extra income that is spent there offers opportunities for other people to develop other opportunities to the benefit of that community:


Chitsvachirimurutsoka Cooperative Farm

Chitsvachirimurutsoka (meaning nothing ventured nothing gained) farm in Zimbabwe has grown from a simple cooperative to playing a much larger role in supporting the local community through a number of initiatives and investments.  It’s development has included not only providing practical infrastructure (such as roads, sanitation, education, etc) for the local community but also encouragement to others to form cooperative models in different areas (such as housing, retail, savings, etc).  Within the video it’s revealed that there is a law in Zimbabwe that before a company folds it must offer the workers the opportunity to form a cooperative from it first, have a read/watch:

Sumak Kawsay / Buen Vivir (Living Well Together), Not “Development”

Here is a set of sources that speak of a way of thinking and living in relation to development that focuses on well balanced relations between people, and with nature as a whole (on the video you can skip to 9.35 for an explanation of what the term means).  It attempts to move away from a growth orientated extractive model, and more toward a participative model that emphasizes equality and sustainability for all those involved (not just people), as well as suggesting use of open knowledge models.  It focuses on understanding the individual as situated within the context of their community and environment rather than as distinct:

Basic Income and Communal Ownership More Than 30 years Old in Alaska

Here’s a fascinating piece outlining how shared communal ownership of resources can and should benefit the whole community rather than simply being siphoned off for those who are already wealthy.  With opportunities for generating a basic income and returning control of the environment back from corporations to a more democratic control much of what is suggested feels like a no-brainer for anyone thinking outside of a neoliberal model:

Building a New Social Commons

Here’s a fascinating piece by the New Economics Foundation which, whilst it is lengthy, is well worth a read.  It puts together a broad ranging strategic framework for thinking about how society may be refocused away from an emphasis of the individual towards an emphasis of the value of the social in human life:

Farm Workers Credit Union

Here’s a great article about a credit union that was set up by farmers to help support each other financially and also in times of emergency/strike to provide financial support.  One of the best models for how banking should really be run:

Co-ops Anchored in Local Institutions, Cleveland, USA

A fascinating strategy for empowering local worker owned businesses to empower communities through their involvement in local green cooperatives, here’s a quote:

 An important aspect of the plan is that each of the Evergreen co-operatives is obligated to pay 10 percent of its pre-tax profits back into the fund to help seed the development of new jobs through additional co-ops. Thus, each business has a commitment to its workers (through living-wage jobs, affordable health benefits and asset accumulation) and to the general community (by creating businesses that can provide stability to neighborhoods).  The overall strategy is not only to go green but to design and position all the worker-owned co-ops as the greenest firms within their sectors.”

From Brooklyn to Manchester: 596 Acres

This is a movement focused on bringing public land back to the public.  One person noticed that within Brooklyn, U.S., there was 596 acres of unused public land and so began a process whereby the public are made aware that this land is vacant and available. This organisation focuses on enabling others to grasp the opportunity to turn their local land into gardens, farms, play spaces and other local intitiatives.  It has even spread across the world as far as Berlin, Germany and my local Manchester, UK: