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Commoners Unite! @ Pixelache Camp 2014

photo of Vasilis Kostakis

Vasilis Kostakis
20th June 2014


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Commoners from the CommonsFest and the P2P Lab, amongst many others, took part in the ”Commoners Unite” Camp 2014 organized by the Helsinki-based  Pixelache. The three-day long unconference began  with the two keynotes by Alain Ambrosi and Markus Schmidt on “Co-inventing the art of commoning” and on Bio-Commons respectively, held at the Helsinki University. Then the participants moved to the island of Vartiosaari where discussions and workshops would be taking place for the next two days. Our friend Dimitris Koukoulakis from the CommonsFest team reports:

A few words about Vartiosaari island
I have to note that the organizers choice to host this year’s event on the Vartiosaari island was not by chance. As the organizers say “the island demonstrates many aspects of the Commons as a nature and recreation island in the middle of suburban city sprawl, which hosts numerous social and association-run wooden houses. It is currently under threat of full-scale residential development by the Helsinki city Planning department and there is a grassroots campaign to protect its particular qualities.”

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The Unconference
The event had participants from USA, Canada, Brazil almost all around Europe, up to Malaysia and Indonesia. Many and very interesting talks and workshops with a mix of arts, science and activism. From those talks that I had the chance to watch, because a lot of things were happening in parallel, I personally noticed that a key aspect in the “art of commoning” is participation and we can discover many and new ways to try and make this more accessible, easier and fun.

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Another aspect discussed between lunch, dinner and staying up late around the campfire was the need of networking and better communication between commoners but also in order to facilitate more people’s participation. Some ideas are, to try to deconstruct language and the meaning of some words or find new ones to describe our new vision for the world, using visual representations and infographics might help a lot communication and even better understanding for projects or ideas, art can be a powerful way to express ideas and even make people engage in them.

Many amazing projects that are happening across the world were presented from the el campo de Cebada in Madrid to Lifepatch in Indonesia, people seem to engage in commoning practices for different reasons but everywhere with great results for the commoners and their communities or even the world in cases where people share their experiences and know-how to inspire and help communities elsewhere to do similar things.

Another notable aspect of the unconference is the gathering of the biohackers community who came together to discuss for the first time the challenges of keeping the knowledge they produce in the Commons. They are forming a bio-commons community to continue researching into possible licenses for safeguarding the bio-commons and explore ethical values and also collaborations between them as we expect the biohacking community to rise extensively the next 10 years similarly to the rise of hackerspaces.

We also had the change to learn about several projects that are running in Helsinki and how the local communities are collaborating and commoning. Running the commons.fi building a Commons-toolkit, presenting their experience on trying to engage a community into designing, running a local currency and their experience to challenges that the local time bank is facing.

Also there where critical talks on new technologies like Bitcoin and how (a)political is it, to art projects that question the real value of microfinancing and crowdfunding to automating and crowdsourcing our food production. Others question our communication practices through cultural coding and many more.

(…)

About Commonsfest
My presentation on Commonsfest focused on the gathering and participation of many different communities and also how all these helped in making it a nice experience. We talked about some examples and the ideas that we have on making it an open source festival and also helping in expanding the Commons and the commoners in Greece.

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