Civic and community initiatives are working to vitalize our urban, rural, scientific and digital commons, and promoting a future guided by democratic participation, social equity and environmental sustainability. At the heart of these acts of “commoning” are satisfying, joyful social relationships that regenerate our interpersonal and physical surroundings. We reject the idea that we are merely self-interested individual consumers or competitors in a fierce market jungle. Instead, we also consider ourselves active and cooperative citizen caretakers working for healthy and fair neighbourhoods, cities and societies.
In times when European institutions are losing support and in deep crisis, we as European citizens are reclaiming Europe. We are concerned that many of our governments tend to favour the narrow interests of dominant market forces instead of catering to the common good of people and the planet.
We are alarmed that growing global social inequality and exclusion, along with climate change, are threatening our very future. We regret that massive privatization and commodification have already deprived us of much of our shared commons that is essential for our physical, social and cultural well-being, and our dignity.
Our experiences of commoning
Commoning relates to the network-based cooperation and localized bottom-up initiatives already sustained by millions of people around Europe and the world. These initiatives create self-managed systems that satisfy important needs, and often work outside of dominant markets and traditional state programmes while pioneering new hybrid structures.
- We build and strengthen communities by using and sharing knowledge, arts, culture, agriculture and technology.
- We build co-housing projects, support local agriculture, live in eco-villages, and have community-based and community-owned infrastructures (e.g. for energy, water, wifi, culture and funding).
- We take care of and collectively manage natural resources (including water, forests, seeds and animals).
- We make and freely share music, images, software, educational materials, scientific knowledge and the like.
- We have already succeeded in making some public-sector information accessible to all, including publicly-funded research, health knowledge and technology.
- We try to open up existing democratic institutions, through new tools of participatory democracy and transparency.
We call for
We call for the provision of resources and the necessary freedom to create, manage and sustain our commons. We call upon governments, local and national, as well as European Union institutions to facilitate the defence and growth of the commons, to eliminate barriers and enclosures, to open up doors for citizen participation and to prioritize the common good in all policies.
This requires a shift from traditional structures of top-down governance towards a horizontal participatory process for community decision-making in the design and monitoring of all forms of commons. We call on commoners to support a European movement that will promote solidarity, collaboration, open knowledge and experience sharing as the forces to defend and strengthen the commons.
Therefore, we call for and open the invitation to join an ongoing participatory, inclusive process across Europe for the building and maintenance of a Commons Assembly. Together we can continue to build a vibrant web of caring, regenerative collective projects that reclaim the European Commons for people and our natural environment.
Omnia sunt communia!
Lead image extracted from the European Commons Assembly Video Intro