P2P Foundation https://blog.p2pfoundation.net Researching, documenting and promoting peer to peer practices Tue, 22 May 2018 08:30:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 REMODEL, week 4: What happened and what have we learned https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/remodel-week-4-what-happened-and-what-have-we-learned/2018/05/22 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/remodel-week-4-what-happened-and-what-have-we-learned/2018/05/22#respond Tue, 22 May 2018 08:30:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=70724 In phase 4 of the REMODEL programme, it is now time to dig deeper and start imagining how the open source mechanisms can be applied concretely in the business strategy of the companies’ products. The secret sauce? Not the open source bit, but rather the magic of building community. This is part of a serious... Continue reading

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In phase 4 of the REMODEL programme, it is now time to dig deeper and start imagining how the open source mechanisms can be applied concretely in the business strategy of the companies’ products. The secret sauce? Not the open source bit, but rather the magic of building community.

This is part of a serious of blogposts about the REMODEL programme at The Danish Design Centre

We have now stepped into Phase 4 of the REMODEL programme and have thereby reached the half-way marker. This brings the 10 Danish manufacturing companies, who are exploring new business strategies and models based on open source principles, to the level where they start to have an overview what it takes to go open and harness the full potential of inviting users and customers to join the community surrounding their product and to take an active, contributing role by becoming co-creators.

Up until now – in the first three phases of REMODEL – we have mostly been laying down the foundation for understanding what open source is and how it can potentially be applied to not only software and virtual products, but also on physical products and hardware. With this understanding more firmly in place it is now time to dig deeper and start imagining how the open source mechanisms can be applied concretely in business strategy of the companies’ products.

Phase 4 – Building community and your system map

In this 4th phase of the REMODEL program the companies started to lay the foundation for establishing a community around their product. First they mapped their existing eco-system of stakeholders – from users (or customers) to collaborators, partners and external influencers – before diving into re-imagining what the full scope of the “system” around their product needs to look like in order to potentially create and maintain a community of co-creators to boost innovation and product development. This is done through an exercise called “the system map” – developed by Nicola Morelli of Aalborg University – which helps map money flows, assets building, human resources needed and other critical factors the companies need to put efforts into facilitating (and engaging with), as well as how all these connect to each other. In essence, you visualize the apparatus needed to develop, manufacture and sell the product including all the elements and their interconnectedness. One key exercise we have added in the REMODEL program is then to subsequently identify which of these elements could be open sourced in order to optimize value creation. Here is an example of what that looks like:


What did we learn? Open sourcing hardware is complex

Major learnings are really starting to pour in from the work done by the 10 companies as they have reached this phase of the program. For instance, it is becoming more and more apparent that open sourcing hardware is much more complicated than open sourcing software. One on hand because these days most physical products comprise of several elements that are not physical, ie. services, software or other virtual elements that are essential to the application of the physical product but not directly a part of it. For instance online platforms, data streams and even services, which may just as well be opened. But does that this make the product itself open? Concretely, in the REMODEL program, we have included a reworked version the Open-o-meter tool, made by Jerémy Bonvoisin, NAME and NAME, which does a really good job at defining exactly what makes physical products open.


But it performs less well in dealing with these non-physical elements as mentioned before. This made it hard at first for several of the companies to identify firmly what they should open and how to do it. One company said: “We realized suddenly how the Open-o-meter is mostly for products and not services or channels,” and then continued: “However the mindset and approach it represented was pretty clear and we could use that to discuss more broadly what we could open both in hardware and non-hardware terms.”

The secret sauce? Not the open source bit, but rather the magic of building community

It is also becoming clear in the work of several of the companies that simply opening up single elements of the product does not actually contribute a lot of measurable increase in value creation. The real trick lies in the community building element of the business strategy; namely how to motivate users to engage with those open elements. The classic “build it and they will come”-principle only goes a little way in crafting a radically new business model. Instead it is the social design of the engagement that make up the secret sauce. This is also why the idea of making “system maps”, as briefly described above, makes a lot of sense because this exercise prompts the companies to consider the relationship between the opened elements and the users and actually design the interaction needed. For instance, what kind of channels or platforms need to be set up (or found elsewhere) to enable meaningful knowledge and idea exchange – and even concrete co-creation activities? And how do we get people to understand the opportunities now being made possible – and engage?

The system map exercise did a brilliant job in igniting creativity in this space. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. One company expressed it very bluntly:

“Honestly, the system map was a true pain in the ass in the beginning as we could not really make it work. Instead we tried to make some sketches on paper, and once they were done we tried again. Second time around it materialized!”. In general the system map was not only really helpful in talking through the different elements surrounding the product (and their interconnection), but it was also very useful to see where value actually appears in the system. Perhaps most importantly: All companies said how fun it was. In contrast to other similar exercises like the Business Models Canvas, which – while very useful in many ways and contexts – was rather quickly discarded in our early REMODEL tests with companies last year because it, quite frankly, was a bit of a drag to complete according to the companies. So kudos to Morelli and his team for making business strategy work playful and fun.

Here is an example of one of the early stage system maps made by one of the companies:


This has also opened up lots of discussion around value creation in the companies: What kind of value is it that the opening of certain (or all) elements can yield? Profit is of course one of the ways the value of any business model can be measured, but is direct increase in turnover the most attractive value a new business model can create? For instance, if you have to balance the cost of creating a stable and active community of, say, a thousand highly competent co-creators against the direct profit it will create in short term will probably not be lucrative. But the subsequent increase in innovation pace, boost in competitiveness and the direct relationship with your core customers in order to learn about their needs and habits in real-time might present something far more valuable. Also in terms of profits down the line. So value really can be measured in many other ways. We’ll get back to that later.

Overall we have now started to get our fingers dirty and are really excited to dive into the challenges of opening up manufacturing and harnessing the business value of open source hardware. Stay tuned for next week!

This is the third blog post of the REMODEL programme. Read number one and number two here.

Learn more

Curious to follow the REMODEL program in more depth? Read more here or sign up for the newsletter. Eager to discuss? Join the conversation on Twitter under the #remodelDK hashtag or contact Danish Design Centre Programme Director Christian Villum on cvi@ddc.dk

Originally published in danskdesigncenter.dk

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Beyond Civil Rights: Economic Democracy https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/beyond-civil-rights-economic-democracy/2018/05/22 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/beyond-civil-rights-economic-democracy/2018/05/22#respond Tue, 22 May 2018 07:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=71066 Aaron Fernando: In June 1968, a group of eight American civil rights and land reform activists travelled to Israel with a plan that was ambitious, if not outright radical. They made the journey in order to study the legal foundations and management practices behind the Jewish National Fund’s leasehold system, and to use this knowledge... Continue reading

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Aaron Fernando: In June 1968, a group of eight American civil rights and land reform activists travelled to Israel with a plan that was ambitious, if not outright radical. They made the journey in order to study the legal foundations and management practices behind the Jewish National Fund’s leasehold system, and to use this knowledge to advance the civil rights movement and broad-based land reform.

One of these activists was Robert Swann, co-author of The Community Land Trust: A Guide to a New Model for Land Tenure in America. In the book he explained that, “Israel has been one of the few countries in the world to be successful in preventing the process of uprooting the poor tenant farmer from taking place. The leasehold system has brought security of land tenure to the small farmer and his family and has prevented the control of land by absentee landlords, speculation in land, and the exploitation of farmworkers by a landowning class.”

After learning about the mechanics of a system that had demonstrably protected communities against these unwanted outcomes, Swann and other members of this group, such as the Albany Movement and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Slater King and Charles Sherrod, put their knowledge into practice. They would go on to form the first Community Land Trust (CLT) in the Southern US state of Georgia.

ABOVE: Robert Swann and Charles Sherrod with members of New Communities, Inc. at planning meeting circa 1970

Less than one year after the trip to Israel, New Communities Inc. was registered as a farming co-operative and CLT. It was created as a direct response to the political disenfranchisement and vicious economic retaliation faced by Black communities, with the understanding that banding together and sharing ownership of the land would enable these communities to be more resilient and secure their land more effectively. In the following years, New Communities acquired 5,735 acres of land – 3,000 of which was cultivated farmland. At the time in the late 1960s this was the largest tract of land held by African Americans.

CLTs are legal models that separate the ownership of the land itself from the ownership of anything built (or growing) on the land. Importantly, CLTs effectively remove land from the market and, by democratising decision making and offering leases, ensure that the land is used for purposes that serve the surrounding community. New Communities did exactly this by offering leases that allowed farmers and homesteaders to use and manage the land communally.

New Communities operated for a decade and a half, but by the 1980s they were facing the impacts of drought, mounting debt, and racial discrimination. This prevented the acquisition of emergency loans from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and New Communities had to reluctantly sell its land and farms.

Although slavery officially ended in the US in the mid-1860s, it persisted for well over a century after. Once sharecropping was phased out, many white landowners often retaliated and did everything in their power to prevent African Americans from acquiring and retaining land, even pressuring federal agencies like the USDA to deny resources to Black farmers. In fact, the USDA had to pay $13M in 2010 to members of New Communities after losing a class action lawsuit, in which is was ascertained that there had been widespread racial discrimination with regard to loans for African American farmers.

Yet New Communities was not a failure, but rather a seminal experiment in community economics – one which has been learned from and replicated in various ways by hundreds of CLTs across the US and around the world. Mtamanika Youngblood, an early member of this movement, explained that New Communities took “civil rights one step further into economic independence and economic rights, using agriculture as an economic base.” What was significant was their understanding of the interplay between land, finance, and agriculture.

For a community to be resilient against external shocks and capable of directing its own development, it must be able to allocate sufficient resources to the efforts it sees as critical. This not only necessitates a stable system of land ownership and egalitarian land usage – such as the CLT model – but it also requires consistency and risk-management around agricultural production, in addition to a mechanism or set of mechanisms that allow a community to self-finance its own projects.

It’s no coincidence that experiments in community finance and local currency are often linked to agricultural production – think of the grain banks of Ancient Egypt. Agricultural activity directly produces commodities of value in the form of food and materials, but it requires the ability to pay in advance for seeds, equipment, land, and labour.

Since crops are subject to unpredictable external factors like weather, agriculture carries inherent risk. For a financial system that perceives each loan or investment as isolated, loans that increase food security and the overall health of a local economy are neglected or seen as high risk.

Jim Golden and his draft horses Spike and Rosie. His SHARE loan was to complete a barn for the team.

This is where community finance can play a role. Just as organisations like Kiva, a peer-to-peer microlending platform, enable businesses to take out low or no-interest loans guaranteed by their peers today, the SHARE (Self-Help Association for a Regional Economy) programme enabled community finance during a time of historically high interest rates. From 1981 to 1992, the SHARE programme enabled residents of the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts to collateralise loans to local business – businesses which would otherwise be rejected for bank loans. At the time, the US Federal Reserve had dramatically increased interest rates to fight rampant inflation. By the summer of 1981, interest rates on business loans was sometimes as high as 20%, yet the share programme enabled small businesses to take out loans at half that rate from their own community.

SHARE’s innovation in community finance continued to be successful and, among other programmes, advised two farms in the region to issue a scrip currency. One of the local farms needed funds to heat their greenhouses during the winter when cash was short; the other needed to repair and recover from fire damage. These farms sold what were called Berkshire Farm Preserve Notes for $9 during the winter. Once the harvest came, they accepted the notes back for $10, effectively giving a 10% discount to customers who pre-purchased farm produce.

Robin Van En (center) and other Indian Line members by Clemens Kalischer.

Yet viewed from the other side, this can be understood as a safe 10% return on investment – paid in farm produce – to those who invested in local agriculture. Analysing this further, this type of scrip currency can be seen as a grassroots financing scheme, one not dissimilar from the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model.

Under the CSA model, all risks and rewards are shared with the community rather than absorbed by the farmers alone. Community members finance the operations of a CSA farm by pre-paying for CSA shares – a claim to a portion of the farm’s produce in the upcoming season. During a good year, community members with CSA shares receive high-quality produce below market prices; during a bad year, the financial impacts of the bad harvest are absorbed by the community. Importantly, the community reaps long-term benefits regardless of what happens. By smoothing out a farm’s income and insulating it from market shocks and external risk, the community ensures its own access to nutritional food.

In the same spirit, local currencies can and have given communities the tools to self-finance in times and places when the existing financial system cannot or will not do so. Local currencies serve multiple purposes and, depending on how individual currency programs are designed, each will serve some purposes better than others. It is important not to think of local currencies only as incentive systems that increase regional spending; local currencies can also be democratic systems of finance, tailored to the specific needs of the communities they exist in. These systems can (and already do) extend community credit to efforts which would otherwise not receive loans or funding.

The problem of accessing large-scale investment becomes less and less an issue as a regional currency achieves greater adoption. The Sardex currency system in Sardinia, Italy has been receiving a lot of press recently, and currently clears over €8 million in mutual credit payments between business each month. Another mutual credit system, the WIR in Switzerland, provides the means of over 1.5 billion Swiss francs per year and has been growing since 1934 when it was started to address a lack of access to credit. In Kenya, the Sarafu-Credit programmes operated by Grassroots Economics are also mutual credit systems, and they provide microfinance zero-interest loans in local currency to businesses and vendors who would otherwise have no access to credit.

Sharing a common thread with crowdfunding, lending circles, and even investment through credit unions and public banks, local currencies tap into the latent potential for communities to finance their own development. Just like these other community finance initiatives, any profits generated by endogenous financing from local currencies continue to enrich in the region.

Unassumingly nestled at the bottom of a sleepy hill in South Egremont (also in the Berkshires region), Indian Line Farm exists as an example of what the intersection of land, finance, and agriculture could look like in the new economy. Not only was it the first CSA farm in the United States, but Indian Line accepts the BerkShares regional currency as payment. BerkShares was started in 2006 by the same community that initiated the share programme and Berkshire Farm Preserve Notes, and still circulates today.

BerkShares local currency.

If that weren’t enough, Indian Line Farm also sits on CLT land and the lease requires that land to always be used for farming – it can never be used for any other purpose. In an innovation rare among existing CLTs, the farmers at Indian Line are not only entitled to equity derived from value they add to buildings on the land, but also from the value of perennial stock and organic soil improvements. By including this in the lease, the CLT ensures that the farmers’ economic incentives will always remain in alignment with the long-term environmental goals of the community.

Most often, when CLTs are mentioned in the media, it is in relation to low-income housing. This is because CLTs dealing with affordable housing or neighbourhood restoration have tax exempt status under US federal law. Yet there is nothing that actually requires a community land trust to be used for low-income housing.
In fact it is possible for all types of land to be held by CLTs, and it is also possible for equity to be given to individuals living and working on any type of CLT land.

Though a tax-exempt CLT cannot offer equity to individuals, it can use a two-tier framework to do so, where a subsidiary holding company manages the land and offers equity to those who live and work on it. This framework -commonly used by churches and educational institutions – was developed and acted upon by the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires that holds Indian Line Farm’s land.

(in photo from left to right: Bob Swann, Ursula Cliff, Susan Witt, Frank Lowenstein, Clemens Kalisher, Elizabeth Keen and Al Thorp celebrate the 1999 partnership formed in order to transfer ownership of Indian Line Farm from the estate of Robyn Van En. Photo by Clemens Kalischer.)

This framework allows all types of land to be donated, including land used for commercial purposes, and business owners or other leaseholders are entitled to equity in improvements made to businesses or anything else built on CLT land. As far as land reform goes, this innovation is truly groundbreaking in the way it enables most types of land to be held securely in common.

These three elements – land, agriculture, and finance – fundamentally influence the wealth flows and power dynamics that permeate society and shape it. By using and improving existing models, communities can build a resilient foundation where decommodified land is held in trust, the risks of agriculture are socialised, and regions maximise their ability to self-finance. With a foundation this solid, a community would be primed and equipped to direct its own development in any way it sees fit.

Aaron Fernando is a community currency consultant who has worked with multiple community currencies across the United States, and is also a writer focusing on local movements, new economy initiatives, and behavioural economics.

Lead image Indian Line Farm, by Jason Houston.

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Contemplating the More-than-Human Commons https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/contemplating-the-more-than-human-commons/2018/05/21 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/contemplating-the-more-than-human-commons/2018/05/21#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=71060 Zack Walsh writing for The Arrow:  The Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change claims that reducing emissions by more than 1 percent annually would generate a severe economic crisis, and yet, climate analysts tell us we need to reduce carbon emissions by 5.3 percent annually to limit global warming to 2°C.1 Moreover, there is... Continue reading

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Zack Walsh writing for The Arrow:  The Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change claims that reducing emissions by more than 1 percent annually would generate a severe economic crisis, and yet, climate analysts tell us we need to reduce carbon emissions by 5.3 percent annually to limit global warming to 2°C.1 Moreover, there is no evidence that decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures is possible, and although politicians tout technical solutions to climate crisis, efficiency gains from technology usually increase the absolute amount of energy consumed.2 The stark reality is that capitalist accumulation cannot continue—the global economy must shrink.

Fortunately, there exist many experiments with non-capitalist modes of assessing and exchanging value, sharing goods and services, and making decisions that can help us transition to a more sustainable political economy based on principles of degrowth. One of the best ways to generate non-capitalist subjects, objects, and spaces comes from systems designed to manage common pool resources like the atmosphere, ocean, and forests. Commons-based systems depend upon self-governance and reciprocity. People rely on and take responsibility for each other, finding mutually beneficial ways to fulfill their needs. This also allows communities to define the guidelines and incentives for guiding their own economic behavior, affording people more autonomy and greater opportunity for protecting and cultivating shared values. Commons-based systems cut across the private/public, market/state dichotomy and present alternative economic arrangements defined by communities.

According to David Bollier, “As the grand, centralized market/state systems of the 20th century begin to implode through their own dysfunctionality, the commons will more swiftly step into the breach by offering more local, convivial and trusted systems of survival.”3 Already, there is evidence of this happening. The commons is spreading rapidly among communities hit hardest by recent financial crises and the failures of austerity policies. In response to the failures of the state and market, many crises-stricken areas, especially in Europe and South America, have developed solidarity economies to self-manage resources, thus insulating themselves from systemic shocks in the future. It seems likely that a community’s capacity to share will be crucial to its survival on a wetter, hotter, and meaner planet.

From the perspective of researchers, there are several different ways to define the commons. In most cases, the commons are understood to be material objects. For example, the atmosphere and ocean are global commons, because they are resources we must all learn to regulate and share collectively. This notion of the commons as material resource goes hand-in-hand with another notion that the commons can be both material and immaterial, a product of either nature or culture. Using this second definition enhances our appreciation for what is often undervalued by traditional economic measures such as care work, shared knowledge production, and cultural preservation. Together, both these perspectives are helpful in devising political and economic strategies for managing the commons, which remains the dominant interest of most commons researchers and policymakers.

Nevertheless, whether material or immaterial, the commons are viewed as a given concept or thing, ignoring that more fundamentally they are generated by social practices. In other words, there are no commons without commoners to enact them. From an enactive perspective, commons are not objects, but actions generated by many different actors in relationship. Whereas the prior notions assume that individuals need to be regulated and punished to prevent overconsumption (an assumption known as the tragedy of the commons), an enactive perspective on commons conceives the individual in relation to everyone (and everything) involved in co-managing the more-than-human commons. It therefore diverges from the prior two notions in assuming a relational epistemology rather than being premised on a liberal epistemology based on the individual. From a Buddhist perspective, one could say that the commons emerges co-dependently with a field of objects, forces, and passions entangling the human and nonhuman, living and non-living, organic and machinic.

The more-than-human commons thus does not dualistically separate the material and immaterial commons, the commons (as object) from the commoners (as subjects), nor does it separate humans from nonhumans. Instead, the commons are always understood as a more-than-human achievement, neither wholly produced by nature or culture. Commoning becomes, as Bayo Akomolafe points out, a material-discursive doing shaped by practices and values that engage humans with their environments.4 In Patterns of Commoning, David Bollier and Silke Helfrich argue that all commons exceed conceptual distinctions, because they are not things; rather, they are another way of being, thinking about, and shaping the world.5 Commoning is about sharing the responsibility for stewardship with the intent to construct a fair, free, and sustainable world—a goal that is all the more important given the unequal distribution of risks posed by intensifying climate change.

Read the entire essay/issue at The Arrow: A Journal of Wakeful Society, Culture & Politics.

Zack Walsh is a PhD candidate in the Process Studies graduate program at Claremont School of Theology. His research is transdisciplinary, exploring process-relational, contemplative, and engaged Buddhist approaches to political economy, sustainability, and China. His most recent writings provide critical and constructive reflection on mindfulness trends, while developing contemplative pedagogies and practices for addressing social and ecological issues. He is a research specialist at Toward Ecological Civilization, the Institute for the Postmodern Development of China, and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany. He has also received lay precepts from Fo Guang Shan, an engaged Buddhist organization based in Taiwan, and attended numerous meditation and monastic retreats in Thailand, China, and Taiwan. For further information and publications, please connect: https://cst.academia.edu/ZackWalsh, https://www.facebook.com/walsh.zack, and https://www.snclab.ca/category/blog/contemplative-ecologies/.

Illustration by Alicia Brown

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Legislature 2.0: CrowdLaw and the Future of Lawmaking https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/legislature-2-0-crowdlaw-and-the-future-of-lawmaking/2018/05/21 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/legislature-2-0-crowdlaw-and-the-future-of-lawmaking/2018/05/21#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 07:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=71079 With rates of trust in government at all-time lows, the legitimacy and effectiveness of traditional representative models of lawmaking, typically dominated by political party agendas and conducted by professional staff and politicians working behind largely closed doors, are called into question. But technology offers the promise of opening how lawmaking bodies work to new sources... Continue reading

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With rates of trust in government at all-time lows, the legitimacy and effectiveness of traditional representative models of lawmaking, typically dominated by political party agendas and conducted by professional staff and politicians working behind largely closed doors, are called into question. But technology offers the promise of opening how lawmaking bodies work to new sources of expertise and opinion and making lawmakers accountable to the public more on more than just Election Day. Around the world, there are already over two dozen examples of local legislatures and national parliaments turning to the Internet to involve the public. We call such open and participatory lawmaking: “crowdlaw.”

The Crowd.Law Website

Although legislatures fund the research done in universities, they invest next to nothing in researching and reinventing how they themselves work. Thus, the Governance Lab at New York University is launching the CrowdLaw Research Initiative and website (“CrowdLaw”) to understand the future impact of technology on the lawmaking process, in particular those technologies that enable participation by individuals and groups. We focus on these collective intelligence tools — as distinct from the technology that enables greater legislative transparency — because they offer the potential for a two-way conversation that could channel more and more diverse opinions and expertise into the lawmaking process and may thereby improve the quality of legislation and its efficacy.

The focus is on creating not only more direct, but also more informed democracy. Our work starts from the hypothesis that expertise of all kinds is widely distributed in society and that we can use technology to introduce better information into the legislative process, making it an ongoing conversation and collaborative process.

The Crowd.Law website includes:

  1. An in-depth analysis and explanation of CrowdLaw
  2. Short case studies of 25 global examples of CrowdLaw initiatives;
  3. A Twitter list of leading thinkers and practitioners of CrowdLaw;
  4. A bibliography of Selected Readings on CrowdLaw;
  5. In-depth design recommendations for designing crowdlaw processes and platforms; and
  6. Model language for legislating public engagement in lawmaking.

This work is informed by three online convenings among crowdlaw practitioners from more than a dozen countries1 and a semester-long graduate research project undertaken at Yale University in the Yale Law School’s Clinic on Governance Innovation.

Future CrowdLaw Activities in 2018

The launch of Crowd.Law is only the beginning of a series of activities for the coming year designed to deepen our understanding of CrowdLaw practices, convene the community interested in legislative innovation, pilot additional CrowdLaw experiments in practice and study what works.

To that end, on November 17th, the Madrid Regional Assembly and the Madrid City Council will convene a workshop on CrowdLaw together with the GovLab at NYU and the Harvard Study Group “The challenge to design a technological Agora” designed to investigate potential pilot projects on CrowdLaw for lawmaking at the local and regional level in Spain.

This Spring, the GovLab and multi-disciplinary students from New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering in Governing the City will undertake research for the city council of a large metropolis to map how a bill becomes a law and, in turn, how that law gets implemented into regulations, in an effort to identify the benefits and risks of greater public engagement.

With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Governance Lab will convene political and legal theorists, parliamentarians, platform designs and legislative staff from six continents at the Rockefeller Bellagio Conference Center in Italy in March to explore the theory and practice of public engagement in lawmaking and to set standards for data collection and sharing by parliaments practicing crowdlaw to enable evidence-based research.

Why CrowdLaw?

Today the public, with the exception of interest group lobbyists, has very little impact on governing. There’s a vast literature on the infirmities of the legislative process, which explain the causes that have given rise to poor quality. As Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson conclude in Winner Takes All Politics, the multi-billion dollar lobbying machine of organized business that emerged in the 1970s to combat Great Society social programs has captured the political process and continuously pushed through a legislative agenda designed to favor the very rich over the middle class. Their book-length work chronicles the exclusion of the “every man” from politics and the resulting inequality in American society. In David Schoenbrod’s DC Confidential, he lays out the “five tricks” politicians use to take credit while passing the blame and the buck to future generations for their bad legislation. As another studyconcluded: “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”2

The unknown question is whether new forms participation beyond the Ballot Box can, in practice, enhance the legitimacy3 and quality4 of the lawmaking process and remedy what ails it. It is worth noting that these two goals are in often in tension because one focuses on ensuring that all voices are heard and the other on enhancing expertise in the process. There is no right answer as to which is more important. But most experiments with public engagement in law- and policymaking to date have focused on the former to the exclusion of the latter. They have not resulted in any measurable improvements in legislative outcomes. It will be crucial when designing new pilots to experiment with trying to design platforms and processes to achieve both goals at different stages of the lawmaking process.

For example, when parliaments decide what issues to take up (agenda-setting), this may be an opportunity to raise the concerns and problems of the community and for the public to propose, prioritize and critique problems to tackle, as is the case of Finland’s Citizen’s Initiative Act, in which a member of the public can propose new legislation. At this stage, participation has the potential to enhance information and bring empiricism into the legislative process through public contribution of expertise.

When legislative and regulatory bodies arrive at the substance of a solution to a problem (proposal-crafting), this could present the opportunity to identify innovative approaches by leveraging distributed expertise beyond that available from legislators and their staffs and occasional hearings5 and, at the same time, to create a process for gauging public preferences and public opinion in response to proposed solutions. Parlement & Citoyens in France enables citizens to submit proposals on the causes and solutions to a problem posed by a representative. Citizens’ proposals are then synthesized, debated, and incorporated into the resulting draft legislation.

Many of the newer political parties from Podemos in Spain to the Alternative in Denmark have used new technology to invite their constituents to draft the party platform in an effort to assess the opinions of their base and be more responsive to them.

If parliaments distribute the work of monitoring implementation to citizens with camera-phones, for example, this could dramatically increase the ability to evaluate the downstream cost and benefits of legislation on people’s lives and introduce into lawmaking greater empirical rigor, which is typically lacking. 6 7 8 9 10

Yet it is not self-evident that more public participation per se produces wiser or more just laws. There are countless instances to the contrary, including notable recent plebiscites. Rather than improve the informational quality of legislation, opening up decision-making may end up empowering some more than others and enable undue influence by special interests. More direct participation could lead to populist rule with negative outcomes for civil liberties. Legislatures are rightly slow to implement public engagement, fearing that participation will be burdensome, at worst, and useless at best.

To counter these risks and realize the benefits, there is an urgent need for systematic experimentation and assessment to inform and guide how legislatures engage with the public to collect, analyze and use information as part of the lawmaking process. But if we want to get beyond conventional democratic models of representation or referendum, and evolve how we legislate, this requires knowledge of how more participation might help to improve the legitimacy and the effectiveness of lawmaking.


[1] “Toward More Inclusive Lawmaking: What We Know & Still Most Need to Know About Crowdlaw,” The Governance Lab, June 4, 2014, http://thegovlab.org/toward-more-inclusive-lawmaking-what-we-know-still-most-need-to-know-about-crowdlaw/. “Expanding Insights — #Crowdlaw Session 2 Highlights Need for Experimentation & Collaboration,” The Governance Lab, June 24, 2014, http://thegovlab.org/expanding-insights-crowdlaw-session-2-highlights-need-for-experimentation-collaboration/. “#CrowdLaw — On the Verge of Disruptive Change… Designing to Scale Impact,” The Governance Lab, December 4, 2015, http://thegovlab.org/expanding-insights-crowdlaw-session-2-highlights-need-for-experimentation-collaboration/

[2] Gilens, M., & Page, B. (2014). Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens. Perspectives on Politics, 12(3), 564–581. doi:10.1017/S1537592714001595.

[3] Sidney Verba, Kay Lehman Schlozman and Henry Brady, Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995).

[4] Nam, “Suggesting frameworks of citizen-sourcing via Government 2.0,” 18.

[5] John Wilkerson, David Smith and Nicholas Stramp, “Tracing the Flow of Policy Ideas in Legislatures: A Text Reuse Approach,” American Journal of Political Science 59:4 (January 2015): 943–956.

[6] “Initial Findings from Pará,” MIT Center for Civic Media, last modified May 2017, http://promisetracker.org/2017/05/23/initial-findings-from-para/.

[7] Janet Tappin Coelho, “Rio de Janeiro Citizens to Receive New App to Record Police Violence in City’s Favelas,” Independent, March 5 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/rio-de-janeiro-citizens-to-receive-new-app-to-record-police-violence-in-citys-favelas-a6914716.html

[8] Martina Björkman Nyqvist, Damien de Walque and Jakob Svensson, “The Power of Information in Community Monitoring,” J-PAL Policy Briefcase (2015). Available at: https://www.povertyactionlab.org/sites/default/files/publications/Community%20Monitoring_2.pdf

[9] Dennis Linders, “From e-Government to We-Government: Defining a Typology for Citizen Coproduction in the Age of Social Media,” Government Information Quarterly 29:4 (October 2012): 446–454. Available at: http://www.academia.edu/27417288/From_e-government_to_we-government_Defining_a_typology_for_citizen_coproduction_in_the_age_of_social_media

[10] Tiago Piexoto and Jonathan Fox, “When Does ICT-Enabled Citizen Voice Lead to Government Responsiveness?” Institute of Development Studies Bulletin 41:1 (January 2016): 28. Available at: http://pubdocs.worldbank.org/en/835741452530215528/WDR16-BP-When-Does-ICT-Enabled-Citizen-Voice-Peixoto-Fox.pdf


Re-posted from the GovLab blog.

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A global food crisis may be less than a decade away https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/a-global-food-crisis-may-be-less-than-a-decade-away/2018/05/20 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/a-global-food-crisis-may-be-less-than-a-decade-away/2018/05/20#respond Sun, 20 May 2018 10:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=71016 Our colleague James Quilligan alerted us to this video. Worth paying attention to. Originally published at TED. From the shownotes to the video Sara Menker quit a career in commodities trading to figure out how the global value chain of agriculture works. Her discoveries have led to some startling predictions: “We could have a tipping... Continue reading

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Our colleague James Quilligan alerted us to this video. Worth paying attention to. Originally published at TED.

From the shownotes to the video

Sara Menker quit a career in commodities trading to figure out how the global value chain of agriculture works. Her discoveries have led to some startling predictions: “We could have a tipping point in global food and agriculture if surging demand surpasses the agricultural system’s structural capacity to produce food,” she says. “People could starve and governments may fall.” Menker’s models predict that this scenario could happen in a decade — that the world could be short 214 trillion calories per year by 2027. She offers a vision of this impossible world as well as some steps we can take today to avoid it.


Since 2009, the world has been stuck on a single narrative around a coming global food crisis and what we need to do to avoid it. How do we feed nine billion people by 2050? Every conference, podcast and dialogue around global food security starts with this question and goes on to answer it by saying we need to produce 70 percent more food.

The 2050 narrative started to evolve shortly after global food prices hit all-time highs in 2008. People were suffering and struggling, governments and world leaders needed to show us that they were paying attention and were working to solve it. The thing is, 2050 is so far into the future that we can’t even relate to it, and more importantly, if we keep doing what we’re doing, it’s going to hit us a lot sooner than that.

I believe we need to ask a different question. The answer to that question needs to be framed differently. If we can reframe the old narrative and replace it with new numbers that tell us a more complete pictures, numbers that everyone can understand and relate to, we can avoid the crisis altogether.

I was a commodities trader in my past life and one of the things that I learned trading is that every market has a tipping point, the point at which change occurs so rapidly that it impacts the world and things change forever. Think of the last financial crisis, or the dot-com crash.

So here’s my concern. We could have a tipping point in global food and agriculture if surging demand surpasses the agricultural system’s structural capacity to produce food. This means at this point supply can no longer keep up with demand despite exploding prices, unless we can commit to some type of structural change. This time around, it won’t be about stock markets and money. It’s about people. People could starve and governments may fall. This question of at what point does supply struggle to keep up with surging demand is one that started off as an interest for me while I was trading and became an absolute obsession. It went from interest to obsession when I realized through my research how broken the system was and how very little data was being used to make such critical decisions. That’s the point I decided to walk away from a career on Wall Street and start an entrepreneurial journey to start Gro Intelligence.

At Gro, we focus on bringing this data and doing the work to make it actionable, to empower decision-makers at every level. But doing this work, we also realized that the world, not just world leaders, but businesses and citizens like every single person in this room, lacked an actionable guide on how we can avoid a coming global food security crisis. And so we built a model, leveraging the petabytes of data we sit on, and we solved for the tipping point.

Now, no one knows we’ve been working on this problem and this is the first time that I’m sharing what we discovered. We discovered that the tipping point is actually a decade from now. We discovered that the world will be short 214 trillion calories by 2027. The world is not in a position to fill this gap.

Now, you’ll notice that the way I’m framing this is different from how I started, and that’s intentional, because until now this problem has been quantified using mass: think kilograms, tons, hectograms, whatever your unit of choice is in mass. Why do we talk about food in terms of weight? Because it’s easy. We can look at a photograph and determine tonnage on a ship by using a simple pocket calculator. We can weigh trucks, airplanes and oxcarts. But what we care about in food is nutritional value. Not all foods are created equal, even if they weigh the same. This I learned firsthand when I moved from Ethiopia to the US for university. Upon my return back home, my father, who was so excited to see me, greeted me by asking why I was fat. Now, turns out that eating approximately the same amount of food as I did in Ethiopia, but in America, had actually lent a certain fullness to my figure. This is why we should care about calories, not about mass. It is calories which sustain us.

So 214 trillion calories is a very large number, and not even the most dedicated of us think in the hundreds of trillions of calories. So let me break this down differently. An alternative way to think about this is to think about it in Big Macs. 214 trillion calories. A single Big Mac has 563 calories. That means the world will be short 379 billion Big Macs in 2027. That is more Big Macs than McDonald’s has ever produced.

So how did we get to these numbers in the first place? They’re not made up. This map shows you where the world was 40 years ago. It shows you net calorie gaps in every country in the world. Now, simply put, this is just calories consumed in that country minus calories produced in that same country. This is not a statement on malnutrition or anything else. It’s simply saying how many calories are consumed in a single year minus how many are produced.Blue countries are net calorie exporters, or self-sufficient. They have some in storage for a rainy day. Red countries are net calorie importers. The deeper, the brighter the red, the more you’re importing. 40 years ago, such few countries were net exporters of calories, I could count them with one hand. Most of the African continent, Europe, most of Asia, South America excluding Argentina, were all net importers of calories. And what’s surprising is that China used to actually be food self-sufficient. India was a big net importer of calories.

40 years later, this is today. You can see the drastic transformation that’s occurred in the world. Brazil has emerged as an agricultural powerhouse. Europe is dominant in global agriculture. India has actually flipped from red to blue.It’s become food self-sufficient. And China went from that light blue to the brightest red that you see on this map.

How did we get here? What happened? So this chart shows you India and Africa. Blue line is India, red line is Africa.How is it that two regions that started off so similarly in such similar trajectories take such different paths? India had a green revolution. Not a single African country had a green revolution. The net outcome? India is food self-sufficientand in the past decade has actually been exporting calories. The African continent now imports over 300 trillion calories a year. Then we add China, the green line. Remember the switch from the blue to the bright red? What happened and when did it happen? China seemed to be on a very similar path to India until the start of the 21st century, where it suddenly flipped. A young and growing population combined with significant economic growthmade its mark with a big bang and no one in the markets saw it coming. This flip was everything to global agricultural markets. Luckily now, South America was starting to boom at the same time as China’s rise, and so therefore, supply and demand were still somewhat balanced.

So the question becomes, where do we go from here? Oddly enough, it’s not a new story, except this time it’s not just a story of China. It’s a continuation of China, an amplification of Africa and a paradigm shift in India. By 2023,Africa’s population is forecasted to overtake that of India’s and China’s. By 2023, these three regions combined will make up over half the world’s population. This crossover point starts to present really interesting challenges for global food security. And a few years later, we’re hit hard with that reality.

What does the world look like in 10 years? So far, as I mentioned, India has been food self-sufficient. Most forecasters predict that this will continue. We disagree. India will soon become a net importer of calories. This will be driven both by the fact that demand is growing from a population growth standpoint plus economic growth. It will be driven by both. And even if you have optimistic assumptions around production growth, it will make that slight flip.That slight flip can have huge implications.

Next, Africa will continue to be a net importer of calories, again driven by population growth and economic growth.This is again assuming optimistic production growth assumptions. Then China, where population is flattening out,calorie consumption will explode because the types of calories consumed are also starting to be higher-calorie-content foods. And so therefore, these three regions combined start to present a really interesting challenge for the world.

Until now, countries with calorie deficits have been able to meet these deficits by importing from surplus regions. By surplus regions, I’m talking about North America, South America and Europe. This line chart over here shows you the growth and the projected growth over the next decade of production from North America, South America and Europe. What it doesn’t show you is that most of this growth is actually going to come from South America. And most of this growth is going to come at the huge cost of deforestation. And so when you look at the combined demand increase coming from India, China and the African continent, and look at it versus the combined increase in production coming from India, China, the African continent, North America, South America and Europe, you are left with a 214-trillion-calorie deficit, one we can’t produce. And this, by the way, is actually assuming we take all the extra calories produced in North America, South America and Europe and export them solely to India, China and Africa.

What I just presented to you is a vision of an impossible world. We can do something to change that. We can change consumption patterns, we can reduce food waste, or we can make a bold commitment to increasing yields exponentially.

Now, I’m not going to go into discussing changing consumption patterns or reducing food waste, because those conversations have been going on for some time now. Nothing has happened. Nothing has happened because those arguments ask the surplus regions to change their behavior on behalf of deficit regions. Waiting for others to change their behavior on your behalf, for your survival, is a terrible idea. It’s unproductive.

So I’d like to suggest an alternative that comes from the red regions. China, India, Africa. China is constrained in terms of how much more land it actually has available for agriculture, and it has massive water resource availability issues. So the answer really lies in India and in Africa. India has some upside in terms of potential yield increases.Now this is the gap between its current yield and the theoretical maximum yield it can achieve. It has some unfarmed arable land remaining, but not much, India is quite land-constrained. Now, the African continent, on the other hand,has vast amounts of arable land remaining and significant upside potential in yields. Somewhat simplified picture here, but if you look at sub-Saharan African yields in corn today, they are where North American yields were in 1940.We don’t have 70-plus years to figure this out, so it means we need to try something new and we need to try something different. The solution starts with reforms. We need to reform and commercialize the agricultural industries in Africa and in India.

Now, by commercialization — commercialization is not about commercial farming alone. Commercialization is about leveraging data to craft better policies, to improve infrastructure, to lower the transportation costs and to completely reform banking and insurance industries. Commercialization is about taking agriculture from too risky an endeavor to one where fortunes can be made. Commercialization is not about just farmers. Commercialization is about the entire agricultural system. But commercialization also means confronting the fact that we can no longer place the burden of growth on small-scale farmers alone, and accepting that commercial farms and the introduction of commercial farmscould provide certain economies of scale that even small-scale farmers can leverage. It is not about small-scale farming or commercial agriculture, or big agriculture. We can create the first successful models of the coexistence and success of small-scale farming alongside commercial agriculture. This is because, for the first time ever, the most critical tool for success in the industry — data and knowledge — is becoming cheaper by the day. And very soon, it won’t matter how much money you have or how big you are to make optimal decisions and maximize probability of success in reaching your intended goal. Companies like Gro are working really hard to make this a reality.

So if we can commit to this new, bold initiative, to this new, bold change, not only can we solve the 214-trillion gap that I talked about, but we can actually set the world on a whole new path. India can remain food self-sufficient and Africa can emerge as the world’s next dark blue region.

The new question is, how do we produce 214 trillion calories to feed 8.3 billion people by 2027? We have the solution. We just need to act on it.

Thank you.


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‘This land is your land’: Reclaiming public land for communities in Brooklyn https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/this-land-is-your-land-reclaiming-public-land-for-communities-in-brooklyn/2018/05/19 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/this-land-is-your-land-reclaiming-public-land-for-communities-in-brooklyn/2018/05/19#respond Sat, 19 May 2018 10:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=71043 596 Acres: Here’s the problem: Located primarily in areas of the city where low-income communities of color live today, more than a thousand vacant public lots languish behind fences, collecting garbage. One such lot was in Paula Segal’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. In 2010, she began talking to her neighbors about this lot. She gathered as... Continue reading

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596 Acres: Here’s the problem: Located primarily in areas of the city where low-income communities of color live today, more than a thousand vacant public lots languish behind fences, collecting garbage. One such lot was in Paula Segal’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. In 2010, she began talking to her neighbors about this lot. She gathered as much information as she could find about it and called a community meeting. That meeting led to more meetings, which led to Myrtle Village Green: an active, nearly 2-acre community space with garden beds, an outdoor movie screening area, a pumpkin patch, and an educational production and research farm. From then on, she thought, “How many more such lots are there in New York City?” She got access to city data and learned that, in 2001, 596 acres of public land were waiting for communities to transform them, and soon after, 596 Acres was born.

 Activating the Urban Commons

Here’s how one organization is working on the problem: The 596 Acres team starts by translating the data available about vacant municipal land into information that can be useful in context, using customized mapping tools. With that knowledge in hand, they put signs on the fences of vacant city-owned lots that say, “This land is your land,” in English and Spanish, and explain which agency has control over the property. The signs also say that neighbors, together, may be able to get permission to transform the lot into a garden, park, or farm. They list the city’s parcel identifier, and information about the individual property manager handling the parcel for the agency, including a phone number.

The signs also connect neighbors to an online map and organizing web-tool called LivingLotsNYC.org and to 596 Acres’ staff, who steer and support residents through a bureaucratic maze in order to gain access to the space.

596 Acres takes on a supportive and advocacy role during each campaign — but residents remain the leaders. Each space, ultimately, is managed autonomously, transformed and maintained by volunteers and local community partners to gather, grow food, and play.


  • Since 2011, neighbors have begun campaigns to transform over 200 sites.
  • 596 Acres has steered groups through the process of creating new community organizations and helped these organizations get formal access to vacant lots to create 39 new community-managed spaces.
  • Nearly all of them have become so valuable to their local and citywide communities that they have been permanently preserved as community spaces by the New York City municipal government. This strategy for activating the potential of vacant public land has been emulated in over a dozen cities around the globe, including Philadelphia and Melbourne.

Learn more from:

This case study is adapted from our latest book, “Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons.” Get a copy today.

Photo by dreamexplorer

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Patterns of Commoning: The Fountain Of Fish: Ontological Collisions At Sea https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/patterns-of-commoning-the-fountain-of-fish-ontological-collisions-at-sea/2018/05/18 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/patterns-of-commoning-the-fountain-of-fish-ontological-collisions-at-sea/2018/05/18#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=71057 “If something goes wrong, its not only our beaches that get ruined. It’s everyone’s.” [Tweedie Waititi, Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Sunday Star Times] Anne Salmond: In April 2011, a small flotilla of protest vessels headed out to sea from the Eastern Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. Among them was a fishing boat, the San Pietro, owned by the local iwi (kin group),... Continue reading

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“If something goes wrong, its not only our beaches that get ruined. It’s everyone’s.”

[Tweedie Waititi, Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Sunday Star Times]

Anne Salmond: In April 2011, a small flotilla of protest vessels headed out to sea from the Eastern Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. Among them was a fishing boat, the San Pietro, owned by the local iwi (kin group), Te Whanau-a-Apanui, and skippered by Elvis Teddy, an iwi member. Rikirangi Gage, a senior tribal leader, was also on board.

At that time, a large ship, the Orient Explorer, contracted by the Brazilian oil company Petrobas, was conducting a seismic survey of the Raukumara Basin, about 300 kilometers north of East Cape. In 2010, Petrobas had been granted a permit by the New Zealand government to prospect for oil in these waters, which crossed Te Whanau-a-Apanui’s ancestral fishing grounds.

When they learned of this permit from press reports, the iwi leaders were incensed. Under the Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840, Queen Victoria had guaranteed their ancestors the “full, exclusive, undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties… so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession.” (Waitangi Tribunal)

Since 1975 the Waitangi Tribunal, established to inquire into breaches of the Treaty, had held hearings around the country and investigated many complaints by Maori kin groups, including those relating to fishing and the ocean. The Tribunal issued reports and made recommendations, and over this period, successive governments had offered apologies and settlements in cash and kind to many iwi around the country.

When Te Whanau-a-Apanui leaders met with the Prime Minister to state their opposition to drilling for oil in their ancestral waters, he expressed sympathy, but refused to revoke the permit. Determined that their point of view should be heard, the tribe put out a call for assistance, and the environmental group Greenpeace responded by sending a flotilla of protest vessels to the Bay of Plenty.

As anger about the oil prospecting increased, placards and signs sprang up on windows and fences along the road between Opotiki and Gisborne. Bonfires were lit in protest, and large-scale haka (war-dances) performed on the beaches.

In April 2011 Greenpeace protestors swam into the path of the Orient Explorer, watched by members of the Air Force, Navy and police. The police issued notices under the Maritime Act, ordering the protest boats and their crews to stay 200 meters from the ship, or to face a fine of NZ$10,000 or up to a year in jail (Hill 2011).

In a press interview, Tweedie Waititi from Te Whanau-a-Apanui expressed surprise at the depth of feeling among her people: “We are the most placid iwion earth. And I tell you what, the government has awakened some sort of taniwha [guardian creature]. It’s quite a surprise to see my people react the way they are reacting. We’re all virgins at doing this. We never fight.” (Waititi 2011).

Like other New Zealanders, tribal members had heard a great deal about the Deep Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico the previous year, and the damage done to the ocean, sea life, coasts and estuaries, and the livelihoods of local people. They were fearful that a similar catastrophe might happen in their ancestral waters.

Tweedie also expressed concern for the moki, a sacred fish that migrates every year from Hawaiki, the ancestral homeland, to Te Whanau-a-Apanui waters. “That’s the moki’s home”, she said, “Right where they want to drill. Every June, there is a star that shines in the sky and her name is Autahi, and that’s our indication that the moki has come home.”

The story of the moki is told in paintings in the dining hall and carved meeting-house at Kauaetangohia marae, at Whangaparaoa. I had also heard about this sacred fish many years earlier when I worked with Eruera Stirling, a leading elder of the iwi, on a book about his ancestors and his life. He told me about a time in his youth when a senior elder, Manihera Waititi, invited him and his elder brother to catch the “first fish” to open the moki season.

On that occasion, the two boys went to the Whangaparaoa River before dawn and boarded Manihera’s boat. With a land breeze behind them, the elder took them to the moki fishing ground about one hundred yards offshore from Ratanui, a beach where ancestral voyaging canoes had come ashore.

After catching several moki, they headed out to a deep water fishing ground, where they caught several more of the sacred fish. Back on shore, the old man gave them the moki to take home to their mother, Mihi Kotukutuku. As the tribe’s senior leader, it was customary for her to be presented with the first fish of the season.

According to Eruera, the waters offshore from Raukokore, his home village, are known as Te Kopua a Hine Mahuru, the deep waters of Hine Mahuru, named after the ancestress of his people. Its fishing grounds and shellfish beds are linked with the carved meeting-house on shore, also named after this high born woman, whose mana(ancestral power) extended over the land and sea.

A rock named Whangaipaka stands in these waters, guarded by a kai-tiaki or guardian, a large sting-ray. If a stranger went there without permission, a great wave carrying the stingray would sweep over the rock, drowning the intruder. Eruera told me that in his time, shellfish beds and fishing grounds were jealously guarded:

Each district had its own mussel beds, and they were reserved for the people of that place. If the people saw a stranger picking their mussels, look out! He’d be a dead man if he came ashore. Fishing was very tapu [imbued with ancestral presence], and each family had its own fishing grounds, no one else could fish there or there would be a big fight.

The old people were very particular about the sea, and nobody was allowed to eat or smoke out on the boats. If a man took food with him when he went fishing, he’d sit there all day with his hook and line empty and the fish would stay away.

Sometimes if the fishing was very bad the people would start asking questions, and if they found out the guilty man, he’d get into big trouble for breaking the sacred law of tapu. The people would just about knock him to pieces, and he wouldn’t be allowed to go out to sea again for quite a while. If a thing like that happened at home, you were well marked by the people (Stirling 1980:106).

Given the intensity of this bond between people, their land and ancestral waters, it is not surprising that Te Whanau-a-Apanui were outraged when, without prior warning, the government issued a permit for an oil company to explore their ancestral waters. As Tweedie Waititi remarked, it was as though a taniwha, a powerful ancestral being, had woken up and was thrashing around in the ocean.

When Rikirangi Gage, an acknowledged senior leader of the iwi, joined the protest flotilla, the government ignored this gesture. Several days later, Te Whanau-a-Apanui’s fishing boat San Pietro motored across the bow of the Orient Explorer, trailing tuna fishing lines and a string of buoys tied together with rope. When the captain of the survey ship told them to stay away, Gage replied, “We won’t be moving. We’ll be doing some fishing.”

Soon afterwards police officers boarded the fishing boat and arrested the skipper, Elvis Teddy, charging him with an offense under the Marine Transport Act. Back on shore, Teddy defended his actions, saying that he was simply exercising his right under the Treaty of Waitangi to fish his ancestral waters. If his boat had come close to theOrient Explorer, it was the fault of the drilling ship’s commander for not avoiding a fishing vessel.

Teddy was prosecuted, and during his trial in the Auckland District Court, his lawyers argued that since the confrontation had happened outside New Zealand’s twelve mile territorial zone, the Maritime Transport Act did not apply. The judge agreed, and the charges were dismissed.

When the police appealed the judgment to the High Court, however, the Court ruled that as a New Zealand vessel, the San Pietro came under New Zealand jurisdiction, even on the high seas (Woolford 2013). Although there was no specific provision in the Maritime Transport Act to this effect, the Act must apply beyond the twelve mile limit, or the New Zealand government would be unable to uphold its international obligations under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. (Webster and Monteiro 2013).

After this verdict, Teddy’s lawyer issued a statement saying that by granting a drilling permit in their ancestral waters without consulting Te Whanau-a-Apanui, and by sending the Navy, Air Force and police to stop Teddy and Gage from fishing in ancestral waters, the New Zealand Government had breached not only the Treaty of Waitangi but the International Convention of Indigenous Rights, which New Zealand has also signed (Te Whanau-a-Apanui 2012).

Soon afterwards, the New Zealand government took further steps to tighten its control over New Zealand vessels on the high seas, passing a hotly debated act that prohibits protest at sea in the vicinity of oil exploration vessels (Devathasan 2013).

This clash between Te Whanau-a-Apanui on the one hand, and Petrobas and the Crown on the other, was not just a physical confrontation. It was an ontological collision – a clash between different “worlds” or ways of being. Different claims to the sea, different ideas about collective rights, and different kinds of freedoms and constraints were being negotiated.

At the same time, this is not a simple confrontation between different “cultures” or “ethnicities.” It is a complex story, with different resonances for different people.

The Sea as a Theater of Protest

For many in New Zealand, the standoff between the San Pietro and a large oil drilling ship recalled an episode in 1973 when the New Zealand government tried to stop French nuclear testing in the Pacific. Two naval frigates, one with a cabinet minister on board, were sent to Moruroa atoll, a testing site in the Society Islands. When a Greenpeace yacht was boarded off Moruroa, its skipper was assaulted by French marines.

In 1984 when the New Zealand government declared the nation nuclear-free and refused to allow visits by US nuclear vessels, the country was ejected from the ANZUS alliance. A year later, French agents sank the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior, which was about to lead another protest flotilla to Moruroa, in Auckland harbor (Thakur 1986).

In New Zealand, as one can see, freedom to protest at sea is deeply entangled with national identity, and a concern for environmental issues. For many New Zealanders, by pitting its small boat against the oil drilling ship, Te Whanau-a-Apanui was following in that tradition, fighting to protect the ocean.

For many members of Te Whanau-a-Apanui, on the other hand, this was more a question of protecting the mana of their kin group. The San Pietro and its crew were asserting the right of their iwi to protect their ancestral fisheries against unwanted intrusion, based on the guarantee of “full, exclusive and undisturbed possession” of their fishing grounds under Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi.

At the same time, for the Government and many other New Zealanders, it was a matter of upholding the sovereignty of the Crown, and the government’s right to manage the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone; to issue exploration permits to oil companies; and to protect prospectors from interference by protest vessels, including those owned by iwi.

Nevertheless, this was not an ethnic confrontation. Many of the protestors were not Maori, and as Tweedie Waititi remarked, “If something goes wrong, it’s not only our beaches that get ruined. It’s everyone’s. I’m pretty sure that not only Maori have a connection to the sea.” Also, some iwi were flirting with the idea of supporting oil exploration: “Like our lawyer said,” she added, “our mana’s not for sale and no amount of money could pay us off. Maybe some iwi you could dangle a carrot. But this one’s not biting.”

In order to explore these ontological collisions, and what they tell us about different relationships between people and the ocean in New Zealand, and different ideas about the commons, I’d like to explore some of the deep, taken-for-granted presuppositions that underpin the positions adopted by different protagonists, along with previous alliances and confrontations.

The Fountain of Fish: The Ocean in Te Ao Maori

As the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins once remarked, “The [Mori] universe is a gigantic kin, a genealogy… a veritable ontology” (Sahlins 1985:195). Te Ao Maori [the Maori world] is ordered by whakapapa – vast, intricate networks of relationships in which all forms of life are mutually defined and linked, and animated by hau [breath, wind, life force].

In 1907, Elsdon Best, a New Zealand ethnologist who had spent a lifetime studying Maori customs, wrote to an elder called Tamati Ranapiri, asking him to explain the idea of the hau. Ranapiri replied:

As for the hau, it isn’t the wind that blows, not at all. Let me explain it to you carefully. Now, you have a treasured item (taonga) that you give to me, without the two of us putting a price on it, and I give it to someone else. Perhaps after a long while, this person remembers that he has this taonga, and that he should give me a return gift, and he does so.

This is the hau of the taonga that was previously given to me. I must pass on that treasure to you. It would not be right for me to keep it for myself. Whether it is a very good taonga or a bad one, I must give to you, because that treasure is the hau of your taonga, and if I hold on to it for myself, I will die. This is the hau. That’s enough (Ranapiri 1907).

The hau is at the heart of life itself. As Ranapiri explains, if a person fails to uphold their obligations in such exchanges, their own life force is threatened. As gifts or insults pass back and forth, impelled by the power of the hau, patterns of relations are forged and transmuted, for better or for worse.

When Elsdon Best wrote about Ranapiri’s account of the hau, it captured the imagination of a French sociologist, Marcel Mauss. In 1925, Mauss published The Gift, a classic work exploring gift exchange in a range of societies, including his own. Quoting Ranapiri, he contrasted the Maori concept of the hau and chiefly generosity with the utilitarian assumption in contemporary capitalism that all transactions are driven by self-interest, arguing that this gives an impoverished, inaccurate view of how relations among people shape social life.

For Mauss, the hau, or the “spirit of the thing given” impels a gift in return, creating solidarity. His discussion of the concept is perceptive, but in fact, it only scratches the surface. In Maori philosophy, hau drives the whole world, not just human communities. It goes far beyond the exchange of gifts among people.

According to the tohunga [experts] in the ancestral whare wananga [schools of learning], hau emerged at the beginnings of the cosmos. In a chant recorded by Te Kohuora, for example, the world begins with a burst of energy that generates thought, memory and desire (Te Kohuora 1854).

Next comes the Po, long aeons of darkness. Out of the Po comes the Kore, unbound, unpossessed Nothing, the seedbed of the cosmos, described by one of Best’s contemporaries as “the Void or negation, yet containing the potentiality of all things afterwards to come” (Tregear 1891:168).

In the Void, hau ora and hau tupu, the winds of life and growth begin to stir, generating new phenomena. The sky emerges, and then the moon and stars, light, the earth and sky and the ocean.

When the forest ancestor Tane creates the world of light and life by forcing earth and sky apart, his brother Tawhiri, the wind ancestor, attacks him and his children, the trees, smashing their branches, and the ancestors of root crops, forcing their offspring to hide in the ground. In this cosmic battle, only Tu, the ancestor of people, stands tall against the Space Twister. For his bravery, he earns for his descendants the right to harvest the offspring of his brothers – birds, root crops, forest foods and trees, fish, crayfish and shellfish.

Utu, the principle of reciprocity, drives the interactions between individuals and groups and all other life forms in the Maori world, working towards (an always fragile) equilibrium. In the process, hau is exchanged among and between people and other life forms, binding their fates together.

Here, individuals are defined by their relationships, and subject and object are not radically divided. From this we can see that any idea of the commons that presupposes this Cartesian division is rooted in a particular modernist cosmo-logic, one that cannot claim universal validity or application.

In Maori life, the mingling of self and other is reflected in many ways. When greeting one another, for instance, Maori people press noses and breathe, mingling their hau [wind of life] together. People speak of themselves as ahau[myself], and when rangatira or chiefs speak of an ancestor in the first person, it is because they are the kanohiora [living face] of that ancestor.

A refusal to enter into reciprocal exchanges, on the other hand, is known as hauwhitia, or hau turned aside. Hauhauaitu [or “harm to the hau”] is manifested as illness or ill fortune, a breakdown in the balance of reciprocal exchanges. The life force has been affected, showing signs of collapse and failure.

This also applies to people’s relations with other life forms. Unless the exchanges between people and the sea are balanced, for instance, the hau of both the ocean and the people alike will suffer.

Stories about the sea illustrate this point. According to Timi Waata Rimini, an elder from Te Whanau-a-Apanui, many generations ago the son of the ancestor Pou drowned in the Motu River. Setting off in search of his son, Pou arrived at the home of the sea ancestor Tangaroa, a “fountain of fish” teeming with different species, where he asked the sea ancestor whether he had taken his son. When Tangaroa denied it, knowing that he was lying, Pou asked him to attend his son’s tangi [funeral].

Returning to the Bay of Plenty, Pou told his people to make a great net. That summer, a huge shoal of kahawai (Arripis trutta) approached the coast, escorting the sea ancestor to the funeral. On a signal, Pou ordered his people to cast the great net. Thousands of Tangaroa’s children were caught and fed to the crowds that had gathered to mourn Pou’s son (Rimini 1901).

As Rimini explained, when the kahawai arrive at the mouth the Motu River every year, a chiefly youngster was sent out to catch three kahawai, which were offered to Pou and the high chief of the region. By acknowledging the mana of the sea ancestor, these “first fish” rituals opened the fishing season, protecting the fertility and abundance of the ocean.

Other local customs related to the kehe or granite trout, a sacred fish that frequented rocky channels in the reefs, grazing on kohuwai, a particular type of seaweed. There were a number of methods used to catch this fish, including shaping channels in the reef with stones, waiting until the kohuwai grew back again, and then using a hoop net to scoop up the kehe as they grazed on the seaweed, or using a pole to drive them into the net.

When the chief’s wife at Omaio became pregnant, he said, the rahui or sacred prohibition on a famous kehe fishing ground called Te Wharau was lifted, and as people gathered on the beach, men with hoop nets were sent to stand on particular named rocks. When the tohunga or expert called out Rukuhia, people dived into the channels, swimming underwater and driving the keheinto the hoop nets, in a joyous pandemonium. Afterwards, the fish were cooked and presented to the chieftainness as a delicacy (Te Rangihiroa 1926).

In this onto-logic, the sea itself was alive and breathing. When Te Parata, a powerful being in the heart of the ocean, breathed out, the tide began to flow, and children were born. When he breathed in, a great vortex formed, swallowing canoes at sea. At death, a great rangatira might be farewelled with the chant, “The eddy squall is gone, the storm is passed away, the Parata is gone, the big fish has left its dwelling place.” (Colenso 1887:422).

Here, ideas about collective rights acknowledge the vitality of other life forms – fish, rivers, mountains and land, for example. Rights in particular localities are distributed between people and other phenomena, nested and linked in exchange relationships at various scales. In relation to the sea, these ideas allow the control of use rights, along lines of kinship and descent or gift exchange.

In contemporary times, these ways of thinking are receiving legal recognition in New Zealand. In 2014, for instance, in a Waitangi settlement with the Whanganui iwi, the Crown has recognised their iconic river as a legal being; while in a Waitangi settlement with Tuhoe, an inland people, their ancestral land Te Urewera has been recognized in the same way, with co-management regimes with the Crown and regional authorities being established.

In many ways, these legal innovations echo contemporary biological understandings in which people and other phenomena (such as the ocean) are engaged in complex interactive systems, mutually implicated at every scale, while the idea that people might be linked by kinship with marine life forms is shared with evolutionary biology, for instance.

The virtue of these arrangements is that the well-being of a lake, a river or the ocean can be given legal priority in the allocation of resource rights and management regimes, alongside the interests of human beings.

The Ocean in the Enlightenment

There are both divergences and resonances between Western and Maori ideas about the sea. When Captain Cook’s ship Endeavour arrived off the east coast of the North Island in October 1769 and brought the first Europeans ashore, for instance, the ship was a travelling sideshow of the Enlightenment in Europe, laden with a cargo of colliding cosmologies.

This was a scientific naval expedition, sponsored by the Royal Society of London to observe the Transit of Venus in Tahiti, and by the Admiralty to find Terra Australis, the Unknown Southern Continent. It is a mistake to think of the meetings that followed as binary clashes between two “cultures,” however. As at present, Maori and European ways of thinking alike were diverse.

One strand of Enlightenment thought, for instance, can be traced back at least as far back as the seventeenth century, when the philosopher Descartes had a new vision of reality, at once powerful and intoxicating. In his dream, the Cogito – the “thinking self” or Subject – became the eye of the world, which in turn became an Object for inspection.

The Cartesian division between mind (res cogitans) and matter (res extensa), Subject and Object is historically and culturally specific. During the Enlightenment in Europe, as culture was separated from nature, the natural sciences and the humanities and social sciences began to diverge (Descola 2013).

As entities were detached from each other, they were objectified and classified, and the different disciplines emerged. This “Order of Things,” as Michel Foucault called it, was at the heart of Enlightenment science (Foucault, 1970). It also shaped the law of the sea, and how forms of control were distributed over the ocean.

In this style of thinking, the ancient motif of the grid was used to divide and sort different dimensions and entities into bounded units, bringing them under control for practical purposes. Often, the grid was hierarchical – the old idea of the Great Chain of Being, for example, with God at the apex followed by angels, divine Kings, the aristocracy and successive ranks of people, from “civilized” to “savage,” followed by animals, plants and minerals in descending order (Lovejoy 1936, Hodgen 1971).

As the cogito or thinking self became the guarantor of being, the all-seeing “Eye of God” was replaced by the “Mind’s Eye,” and human beings were put in charge of the cosmos. Often, this was understood as a machine, made up of distinct, divisible working parts that performed particular functions.

In the mid-eighteenth century in Europe, the Order of Things went viral. Many aspects of life were transformed – administration (with censuses, surveys, and bureaucratic systems), industry (with manufacturing based on mechanization and standardization, the replication of parts and processes), and science (with the use of instruments and quantification, and the increased specialization of knowledge), for instance (Frängsmyr, Heilbron and Rider 1990). In the case of surveying, this was closely associated with military activities, and the scientific use of force (Edney 1994).

As it happened, Captain James Cook, the first European explorer to land in New Zealand, as a leading hydrographer, was in the vanguard of this way of reimagining the sea. Like his cartographic peers, he adopted an imaginary vantage point high above the earth – an “Eye of God” perspective.

In Cook’s charts, the ocean – grey or blue-green, the home of birds, fish and whales, surging with tides and currents, ruffling or roaring in the wind – was transformed into a static, white, two-dimensional expanse, gridded by lines of latitude and longitude and mathematically partitioned and measured.

Near harbors or lagoons, the depth of the coastal seabed was measured with the lead, and these soundings were recorded on his charts. Using a process of instrumental observation, the blurred, shifting liminal zone between land and sea was reduced to a simple line (Salmond 2005).

As Jordan Branch has recently argued, this process of cartographic simplification was intimately entangled with imperial power and the creation of the modernist nation-state. Except for scatters of islands, new stretches of the Pacific were depicted as vacant expanses, waiting to be explored, charted, claimed and ruled by European powers (Branch 2011).

At this time in Europe, the sovereignty of the Crown (or imperium) in Europe was held to extend about a league (three nautical miles) from the coastline, or within cannon shot, although property rights [dominium] could be granted within that limit (Bess 2011:87). Captain Cook had instructions from the Admiralty to claim any new lands he might “discover” for the British Crown.

At the same time, as Peter Hans Reill has remarked, one should not underestimate the diversity of Enlightenment thinking. In the mid-eighteenth century, for instance, men including Erasmus Darwin and Priestley, many of those involved in the Scottish Enlightenment, Buffon in France, Benjamin Franklin in America, and later the Humboldt brothers, understood reality as living networks of relations among different phenomena, animated by complementary exchanges – an account that has strong resonances with Maori and Polynesian thinking (Reill 2005; see also Israel 2006).

In this Enlightenment tradition – the Order of Relations, one might call it – people are just one life form among many, and the world is constantly changing. Ideas such as justice, truth, equality and honor, and balance and equilibrium suggested how exchanges – particularly among people – should be handled. Here one can find the origins of participatory democracy, and much of contemporary anthropology, earth sciences, cosmology, ecology and evolutionary theory. The World Wide Web and scientific ideas about complex systems and networks also trace back to this strand of modernist thought.

Not surprising, this diversity of views was reflected on board the Endeavour. In addition to his orders from the Admiralty, Cook had a set of “Hints” from the Earl of Morton, the President of the Royal Society, which acknowledged the legal rights of Pacific people to control their own lands and coastlines, and suggested how to describe in detail the people, places, plants, animals and minerals that they might encounter during their voyage around the world.

While Cook’s charts abstracted the land and sea, the journals, sketches and collections produced by the scientists and the ship’s officers restored them to life again, at least in part, with meticulous depictions of local people and landscapes, canoes and fishing gear, different species of fish, as well as currents, tides and the temperature of the ocean (Salmond 2004).

During the Endeavour’s circumnavigation of New Zealand in 1769-1770, these divergent strands in Enlightenment thought – as reflected in the Admiralty orders and the Earl of Morton’s “Hints” in particular – helped to shape what happened. The presence of Tupaia, a brilliant man later described as a “genius” by Georg Forster, also powerfully shifted the dynamics of these encounters. A high priest from one of the homelands of Maori, he was quickly able to master the sound shifts between Maori and Tahitian, and speak with the local people.

The warriors who came out in their canoes to challenge the ship were unsure what this bizarre apparition might be. In Turanga, for instance, the first harbor visited by the Endeavour in New Zealand, the people thought this might be Waikawa, a sacred island off the end of the Mahia peninsula, floating into their harbor. Nevertheless, they used their own time-honored rituals for challenging the strangers, performing wero [ritual challenges], karakia [incantations] and haka [war dances].

While Cook followed his Admiralty orders and took possession of New Zealand, marching the marines ashore to set up a British flag, he also followed the “Hints” by negotiating with Maori, using Tupaia, the Ra’iatean star navigator, as his interpreter. When the first encounters on land and sea ended in shootings, Cook was bitterly chagrined.

There were many such clashes around the coastline of New Zealand. When the Endeavour arrived at Waikawa, for instance, off the end of the Mahia peninsula, a sacred island and the site of a school of ancestral learning, priests chanted and warriors in canoes threw spears at the hull of the Endeavour. As they sailed across Hawke’s Bay, flotillas of canoes came out, led by elderly chiefs wearing fine cloaks, chanting, making speeches and brandishing their weapons, preventing the Europeans from making a landing.

When the Endeavour headed north and arrived in the Bay of Plenty, a large canoe carrying sixty warriors came out from Whangaparaoa in Te Whanau-a-Apanui waters, and circled the ship, a priest reciting incantations as the crew performed a war dance. They cried out, “Come to land and we will kill you,” paddling at high speed to attack the Endeavour and stopping only when a volley of grapeshot was fired beside their canoe. When a cannon loaded with round shot was fired overhead, they fled back to the land.

As one can see, there is a strong continuity between Rikirangi Gage’s presence on board the San Pietro and their confrontation with the oil drilling ship, and these earlier clashes in which Te Whanau-a-Apanui defended their mana(ancestral power) over their tribal waters.

On the whole, Captain Cook respected these challenges, retorting with warning shots rather than shooting the warriors. The Earl of Morton had insisted that people in these new lands had the right to defend their own territories, including their coastal waters. Later, this same understanding underpinned the promise in the English text of the Treaty of Waitangi that Maori would enjoy “full, exclusive, undisturbed possession of their Fisheries and other properties… so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession.”

It was not until quite recently in New Zealand (in 1965) that the Crown’s sovereignty was formally extended out to three miles from the coast, to twelve miles in 1977, and in 1982 under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (or UNCLOS) out to 200 miles, defining an oceanic “Exclusive Economic Zone” that the Government sought to defend against Whanau-a-Apanui and Greenpeace protestors.

Thus in very recent times, the high seas or mare liberum1 – that part of the ocean which falls outside the Exclusive Economic Zones, an expanse free to all nations but belonging to none – has been shrinking, as nation-states expand their terrestrial sovereignty out from their coastlines – a kind of oceanic enclosure. As we have seen, such cartographic visions of the ocean embody particular assumptions about the world. This atomistic, quantifying, abstracting, commodifying logic is still unfolding.

This cosmo-logic fragments the sciences, detaches people from “the environment” and makes the well-being of other life-forms contingent. It therefore is not particularly successful at understanding or safeguarding the vitality of those intricate socio-biophysical systems in which human beings participate, and on which their own well-being and futures rely.

In New Zealand, as in other situations where the government has sought to commodify and privatize resources formerly held in common, Maori have reacted by challenging the Crown’s right to make these decisions. As Alex Frame, a law professor in New Zealand, has observed, under the Treaty of Waitangi:

The commodification of the “common heritage” has provoked novel claims and awakened dormant ones…Claims to water flows, electricity dams, airwaves, forests, flora and fauna, fish quota, geothermal resources, seabed, foreshore, minerals, have followed the tendency to treat these resources, previously viewed as common property, as commodities for sale to private purchases. Not surprisingly, the Maori reaction has been, if it is property, then it is our property (Frame 1999:234).

The Foreshore and Seabed

It would be possible to examine the unfolding of this logic with the quantification of fish stocks in the fisheries quota system in New Zealand, for instance, which provoked one of the first claims to the Waitangi Tribunal. Here, however, I will focus on the confrontations between many Maori and the Crown over the foreshore and seabed, since this forerunner to the clash between Te Whanau-a-Apanui and the Crown also illuminates complexities in contemporary debates about the commons.

The foreshore and seabed saga began in the Marlborough Sounds, at the northern end of the South Island. Although the local tribes had repeatedly applied to the local District Council for licenses to farm mussels in their ancestral rohe (territory), none were granted. Finally in frustration, they finally applied to the Maori Land Court to recognize their customary rights over the foreshore and seabed in the Sounds (Bess 2011:90-93; Boast 2005).

In Maori ancestral practice, the foreshore is a fertile place. At the time of the Treaty, clans and families moved from gardens and forests to wetlands, sandy beaches, rocky reefs and out to sea in seasonal migrations, maintaining relations with a complex mosaic of fish, plants and animals, and harvesting at peak times of plenty. Particular groups held nested use rights to particular resources at particular times of the year, creating overlapping, shifting networks of rights that crossed the shoreline, binding people, land and sea together.2

According to English common law in 1840, on the other hand, land and sea were divided at the high tide mark, and subject to different regimes of control. On land, the Crown held the right of imperium or sovereignty, whereas dominium or ownership was generally held as private property; whereas at sea, it was assumed that the Crown held both imperium and dominium, at least as far as three miles offshore, unless it had granted the right of ownership to other parties.

When land began to be surveyed, partitioned into bounded blocks and sold in New Zealand, the government and European purchasers alike generally assumed that if they bought coastal land, they owned it to the high tide mark, but that the foreshore or tidal zone and the seabed belonged to the Crown.

From the beginning, Maori contested this assumption, which clashed with the Article 2 Treaty promise about their control of ancestral fisheries. But in 1963, when the Court of Appeal ruled in a case over the Ninety Mile beach that customary rights to the foreshore had been extinguished when the Native Land Court had issued title to coastal land, the matter was assumed to be legally settled.

The application of the Marlborough iwi to the Maori Land Court overturned that legal precedent, however. The judge held that the legislation cited by the Attorney General, including the Ninety Mile Beach case, had not in fact extinguished the customary rights of the Marlborough iwi.

The case was appealed, and then referred to the High Court, where the judge reversed the ruling, and then to the Court of Appeal, where the judges ruled unanimously that upon the signing of the Treaty, the Crown had acquired only a radical right or imperium over the sea with the acquisition of sovereignty.

Citing the doctrine of aboriginal title, they ruled that unless the rights of dominium had been legally extinguished, they remained with Maori kin groups, and that this was also the case with the foreshore and seabed. Furthermore, they argued, the distinction in English common law between land above the high water mark, and land below it, did not apply.3

As Judge Elias said, “The common law as received in New Zealand was modified by recognized Maori customary property interests. There is no room for a contrary presumption derived from English common law. The common law of New Zealand is different.” The judges referred the case back for the Maori Land Court to determine whether or not the Marlborough iwi had customary ownership of the foreshore and seabed in their ancestral territories (Elias, S, in the Court of Appeal of New Zealand, CA 173/01).

By this time, however, most New Zealanders took it for granted that, apart from riparian rights, the foreshore and seabed were owned by the Crown, and the decision caused a furor. Over the generations, many non-Maori New Zealanders had also formed close ties with particular beaches and stretches of coastline, echoing an ancestral Maori habit of setting up summer fishing camps by heading to beaches and coastal camping grounds, and spending a great deal of time fishing, diving, surfing and sailing.

Although some Maori leaders insisted that they only wished to exercise kai-tiakitanga or guardianship over the foreshore and seabed, and not treat them as private property, others were clearly interested in commercial possibilities, and claimed property rights in the ocean. Fearing that their relationship with particular beaches and harbors would be severed, and their recreational as well as commercial interests in these places would be lost to Maori, many non-Maori New Zealanders were incensed by the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Again, this was not strictly an ethnic confrontation. None of the Court of Appeal judges, for example, were Maori. Nevertheless, public anger was such that in 2004, the Government hastily passed legislation to ensure that the foreshore and seabed would be owned by the Crown, with open access for all, subject to various regulatory restrictions and acknowledging Maori customary interests (but not allowing this to be translated into freehold title).

When a hikoi (march) of thousands of Maori protesters marched on Parliament, they were dismissed by the Prime Minister as “wreckers and haters,” a comment that hurt and horrified many of the elders who participated.

In the aftermath, however, as different iwi signed Treaty deeds of settlement with the Crown, anger on all sides gradually cooled (Palmer 2006:197-214). When a new Government formed a coalition with the Maori Party, which had been created in protest against the Foreshore and Seabed Act, in 2010 new legislation gave Maori further customary (but not freehold) rights to these areas, while protecting public access and enjoyment by defining the foreshore and seabed as “public domain” (Bess 2011:92-93).

Out at sea, on the other hand, the Crown reserved its right to allocate oil and mineral licences, without public participation. By the time that Te Whanau-a-Apanui’s fishing boat confronted the Orient Explorer, they had many non-Maori supporters who shared their fears for the future of the ocean. In October 2011 when a container ship the Rena ran aground on a reef in the western Bay of Plenty, it seemed that they had been prescient. A cargo including hazardous materials, fuel oil and diesel spilled into the sea, causing widespread environmental and economic damage.

“Tie the Knot of Humankind”: Experiments Across Worlds

As one can see, in New Zealand, fundamentally different onto-logics about human relations with the ocean have proved very resilient. At the same time, there have been significant transformations, both to Maori ideas and to modernist thinking.

In the law, for example, at different times, the doctrine of continuity in relation to Maori rights has transformed English common law by the incorporation of Maori customary law. As Sian Elias, now the Chief Justice of New Zealand, put it succinctly, “The common law of New Zealand is different.” One can see this in many New Zealand laws that cite tikanga (ancestral conventions), whether in general or in particular,4 including those recent laws giving effect to those Waitangi settlements in which ancestral rivers and stretches of land are recognized as beings with their own legal rights.

At the same time, while particular tikanga may be cited in legislation, their content has often fundamentally shifted. One can see this in the case of kai-tiakitanga, for example, once exercised by non-human beings such as sharks and stingrays over particular ancestral stretches of the ocean. Today, a more anthropocentric version is common, with people regarding themselves as kai tiaki (guardians) of these places.

On the other hand, the assumption that with the signing of the Treaty, sovereignty was transferred to the British Crown, has not been seriously disturbed, despite many challenges, since this provides a fundamental scaffolding for legal processes in New Zealand.

In relation to the sea, this means that mechanisms such as mataitai and taiapure, where Maori kin groups either exercise or share limited rights over coastal subsistence fishing with other community members, operate within strict limits. For example, Ministers appoint tribal “representatives” to management groups and require that their arrangements not clash with commercial fishing rights.

Simultaneously, however, the idea of the “Crown” itself has also altered, so that any pure opposition between Maori and the Crown is now difficult to sustain. For many years in New Zealand, Maori have been lawyers and judges, officials, members of Parliament and Ministers. In fact, it was a Maori Minister of the Crown, Matiu Rata, who helped to set up the Waitangi Tribunal.

Again, the relation between iwi and the Crown is structural rather than strictly ethnic, and this is played out in fisheries management as well, with non-Maori as well as Maori managing fishing quota for iwi according to strictly commercial principles; while in mataitai and taiapure, the management of customary fishing is usually shared with non-Maori community members (Jacobson and Moller 2009).

At the same time, some non-Maori New Zealanders now speak of themselves as kai-tiaki or guardians for rivers, beaches and endangered species. As Maori terms increasingly shift into Kiwi English, both European and Maori ways of thinking are being transformed.

This holds promise for the future, because in relation to the sea, experiments of this kind are urgently needed. In New Zealand as elsewhere, a radical division between Nature and Culture, born of one strand of modernist thought, and the belief that Nature is there for human beings to exploit without limit and that any damage can be fixed, is fundamentally disruptive to relations between people and the ocean.

While surfers, swimmers, divers and fishers still frequent our beaches and coasts, and sailors still cross the Pacific, their activities are increasingly at risk from water-borne pollution, sedimentation, over-harvesting of reefs, shellfish beds and fisheries, and the intense storms, acidification and current shifts driven by climate change, for example.

Contemporary scientific models, with their fragmented partitions, and the split between Nature and Culture with its deep separation between people and other phenomena (also born of the Order of Things), are flawed. They fail to adequately grasp the cascading dynamics of complex systems in which people are implicated at every scale, putting the future of many marine species andcoastal human communities at risk.

Ideas of the commons do not always escape these limitations. In New Zealand, these play out in complex ways, sometimes to oppose Maori claims to fisheries or waterways (“No one owns the water!”), whose control may then be privatized – but also to forge alliances with Maori kin groups (in the case of the San Pietro, for example) to try and prevent extractive activities that seem too damaging or dangerous.

Until people grasp that their being and that of the sea are bound together, they will not demand that human activities that put our futures at risk are conducted within survivable limits. We need new ways of thinking about the shifting relations between people and the ocean – and indeed, all the intricate biophysical systems of which human beings are a part.

In New Zealand, deep resonances may be found between relational thinking from the Enlightenment (including the commons); Maori ideas of complex networks that bypass Cartesian divisions between subject and object, mind and matter, society and nature; and the contemporary science of complex systems. These convergences may help to incubate some new ideas about the ocean.6

Just as the physicist Niels Bohr drew upon Asian conceptions to grasp quantum theory, or Marcel Mauss reflected on the Maori idea of the hau to imagine alternatives to a commodified world, such cross-philosophical experiments (and not just in New Zealand) might help to engender new kinds of environmental science.

They might also foster ideas of the commons based on complex systems – those intricately entangled, cascading, dynamic, interactive networks among people, and between people and other life forms at different scales – and legal arrangements in which rivers and the ocean have their own being and their own rights.

As my mentor, Te Whanau-a-Apanui elder Eruera Stirling, used to chant:


Whakarongo! Whakarongo! Whakarongo!

Ki te tangi a te manu e karanga nei

Tui, tui, tuituiaa!

Tuia i runga, tuia i raro,

Tuia i roto, tuia i waho,

Tuia i te here tangata

Ka rongo te po, ka rongo te po

Tuia i te kawai tangata i heke mai

I Hawaiki nui, i Hawaiki roa,

I Hawaiki pamamao

I hono ki te wairua, ki te whai ao

Ki te Ao Marama!


English Translation:

Listen! Listen! Listen!

To the cry of the bird calling

Bind, join, be one!

Bind above, bind below

Bind within, bind without

Tie the knot of humankind

The night hears, the night hears

Bind the lines of people coming down

From great Hawaiki, from long Hawaiki

From Hawaiki far away

Bind to the spirit, to the day light

To the World of Light!



  • Bess. 2011. “New Zealand’s Treaty of Waitangi and the Doctrine of Discovery: Implications for the Foreshore and Seabed.” Marine Policy 35:85-94.
  • Blomley, Nicholas. 2003. “Law, Property and the Geography of Violence: The Frontier, the Survey and the Grid.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 93(1):121-141.
  • Boast, Richard. 2005. Foreshore and Seabed. Wellington: LexisNexis.
  • Branch, Jordan. 2011. “Mapping the Sovereign State: Cartographic Technology, Political Authority, and Systemic Change.” PhD thesis in Political Science, Berkeley.
  • Brookfield, F.M. 2004. “Maori Customary Title in Foreshore and Seabed.” New Zealand Law Journal 34(1).
  • Colenso, William. 1887. “Ancient Tide Lore, and Tales of the Sea.” Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 20:418-22.
  • Cox, Michael, Arnold, Gwen, and Tomás. 2010. “A Review of Design Principles for Community-based Natural Resource Management.” Ecology and Society 15(4):38.
  • Descola, Phillipe. 2013. Beyond Nature and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Devathasan, Anna. 2013. “The Crown Minerals Act 2013 and Marine Protest.” Auckland University Law Review 19:258-263.
  • Diaw, Mariteuw. 2008. “From Sea to Forest: An Epistemology of Otherness and Institutional Resilience in Non-Conventional Economic Systems.” http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/dlc/bitstream/handle/10535/312/diaw.pdf?sequence=1
  • Edney, M.H., 1994. “British Military Education, Mapmaking, and Military ‘Map-mindedness’ in the Later Enlightenment.” The Cartographic Journal 31:14-20.
  • Frame, Alex. 1999. “Property and the Treaty of Waitangi: A Tragedy of the Commodities?” In Janet McLean, editor. Property and the Constitution. Oxford: Hart Publishing: 224-234.
  • Foucault, Michel. 1970. The Order of Things. London: Tavistock.
  • Frängsmyr T., J.L. Heilbron and R. Rider, editors. 1990. The Quantifying Spirit in the 18th Century. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Grotius, Hugo, translator. Ralph Magoffin. The Freedom Of The Seas: Or, The Right Which Belongs To The Dutch To Take Part In The East Indian Trade. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Henare [Salmond] AJM. 2007. “Taonga Maori: Encompassing Rights and Property in New Zealand.” In A. Henare, M. Holbraad and S. Wastell, editors. Thinking through Things: Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically. London: Routledge. 47-67.
  • Hill, Marika. 2011. “Police Make Arrest on Protest Ship.” Stuff NZ, April 23.
  • Hodgen, Margaret. 1971. Early Anthropology in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Philadephia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Israel, Jonathan. 2006. “Enlightenment. Which Enlightenment?” Journal of the History of Ideas 67(3):523-545.
  • Jacobson C., and H. Moller. 2009. “Two from the same cloth? Comparing the outcomes of Mtaitai and Taipure for delivering sustainable customary fisheries.” He Khinga Rangahau No. X. Dunedin: University of Otago.
  • Lovejoy, Arthur. 1936. The Great Chain of Being: The History of an Idea. Boston: Harvard University Press.
  • Mauss, Marcel. 1966. The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. London: Cohen and West Ltd.
  • Palmer, M. 2006. “Resolving the Foreshore and Seabed Dispute.” In Raymond Miller and Michael Mintrom, editors. Political Leadership in New Zealand. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 197-214.
  • Ranapiri, T, 1907. Letter to Peehi (Elsdon Best), 23 November 1907, p. 2, MS Papers 1187-127, in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Anne Salmond, translator.
  • Reill, P.H. 2005. Vitalizing Nature in the Enlightenment. Berkeley, California. University of California Press.
  • Rimini, Tiimi Waata. 1901. “Te puna kahawai i Motu.” Journal of the Polynesian Society 10(4):183-190.
  • Sahlins, Marshall. 1985. “Hierarchy and Humanity in Polynesia.” In A. Hooper and J. Huntsman, editors. Transformations of Polynesian Culture. Auckland. The Polynesian Society.
  • Salmond, Anne. 1992. Maori Understandings of the Treaty of Waitangi, F19, for the Waitangi Tribunal, Muriwhenua Land Claim.
  • —– . 2004. The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas. London: Penguin.
  • —– . 2005. “Their Body is Different, Our Body is Different: European and Tahitian Navigators in the 18th Century.” In History and Anthropology,16 (2):167 – 186.
  • —– . 2010. Brief of Evidence of Distinguished Professor Dame Anne Salmond, WAI 1040, #A22, for the Waitangi Tribunal.
  • Stirling, Eruera, as told to Anne Salmond. 1980. Eruera: The Teachings of a Maori Elder. Christchurch: Oxford University Press.
  • Te Kohuora of Rongoroa, dictated to Richard Taylor. 1854. [The Maori text is in Taylor, Richard (1855), Te Ika a Maui. London:15-16.]
  • Te Rangihiroa, Peter Buck. 1926. “The Maori Craft of Netting.” Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 56: 597-646.
  • Thakur, Ramesh. 1986. “A Dispute of Many Colours: France, New Zealand, and the Rainbow Warrior Affair.” The World Today 42(12):209-214
  • Schmidt, Jeremy and Mitchell, Kyle. “2014 Property and the Right to Water: Towards a Non-Liberal Commons.” Review of Radical Political Economics46(1):54-69.
  • Te Whanau-a-Apanui. 2012. Statement of Te Whanau-a-Apanui, iwimaori.weebly.com/…/te_whanau_a_apanui_statement_16_may_2012
  • Tregear, Edward. 1891. The Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington: Lyon and Blair.
  • Waitangi Tribunal. http://www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/waitangi-tribunal/treaty-of-waitangi
  • Waititi, Tweedie. 2011. Quoted in Sunday Star Times. April 24.
  • Woolford, J. 2003. Judgment in NZ Police vs. Elvis Heremia Teddy, CRI-2011-470-00031 [2013, NZHC 432].
  • Webster, Kerryn and Felicity Monteiro. 2013. “High Court clarifies jurisdiction over New Zealand ships on high seas, International Law Office.” http://www.internationallawoffice.com/newsletters/detail.aspx?g=96970d24-7159-4b4c-b41f-71d8c0f58 

Anne Salmond (New Zealand) is a Distinguished Professor of Mori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland. For many years she has worked with indigenous leaders and groups in New Zealand and the Pacific. As a writer, she has won many literary and academic awards. A passionate environmentalist, she has also led major ecological projects in New Zealand. In 2013 she was awarded the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s top scientific award, and was made the New Zealander of the Year.

Patterns of Commoning, edited by Silke Helfrich and David Bollier, is being serialized in the P2P Foundation blog. Visit the Patterns of Commoning and Commons Strategies Group websites for more resources.


1. Mare liberum is a doctrine articulated by Hugo Grotius in defense of the right of the Dutch to sail to the East Indies, as against the Portuguese claim to exclusive control over those waters: “The sea is common to all, because it is so limitless that it cannot become a possession of any one, and because it is adapted for the use of all, whether we consider it from the point of view of navigation or of fisheries.” (Grotius, trans. Magoffin 1916:28).
2. See Diaw (2008) for an excellent discussion of similar nested mosaics of use rights in the Cameroons, and the implications of these resilient systems for adaptive ideas of the commons.
3. This provoked a flurry of legal debates. See, for instance, Brookfield (2004).
4. See Henare [Salmond] (2007) for an exploration of the way that the concept of taonga (ancestral treasure) has been incorporated in recent New Zealand legislation, for instance.
5. It is interesting that one of the largest companies in New Zealand, the dairy company Fonterra, is in fact a farmer-owned co-operative; and share-milking is common. (See Diaw 2008 for a discussion of share-cropping in Cameroon.)
6. See Schmidt and Mitchell (2013:64-66), who explore some of these possibilities for transfiguring the commons in a Canadian context, with some reference to First Nations; and Cox, Arnold and Tomás (2010) for ways of testing the efficacy of socio-biophysical complex systems in the management of common-pool resources.

Photo by amg1994

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Fragmented Evolution in Post-Polanyan Times https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/fragmented-evolution-in-post-polanyan-times/2018/05/18 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/fragmented-evolution-in-post-polanyan-times/2018/05/18#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 07:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=71148 I will be attending the European Artistic Research Network Conference in Dublin on October 18th-19th this year. What follows is my abstract for the conference. You can find more details for the event itself in the second part of this post. Michel Bauwens: Karl Polanyi, in his landmark book, ‘The Great Transformation’, famously posited the ‘double... Continue reading

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I will be attending the European Artistic Research Network Conference in Dublin on October 18th-19th this year. What follows is my abstract for the conference. You can find more details for the event itself in the second part of this post.

Michel Bauwens: Karl Polanyi, in his landmark book, ‘The Great Transformation’, famously posited the ‘double movement’ of industrial civilisations, characterized by periodic swings between liberal and more labour oriented periods, such as the welfare state model vs the neoliberal period. Yet, though the latter is in deep crisis, it is not very clear that there are workable alternatives at the nation-state level, that won’t be derailed by transnational capital movements and strikes. Perhaps this means that social movements need to radically re-orient themselves to translocal and trans-national solutions and create adequate counter-power at the appropriate level to counter the increasing corporate sovereignty of ‘netarchical capital’? Just as capitalism is moving from the commodity-labor form to commons-extraction, perhaps now is the time for commoners to practice reverse cooptation? As a case study, we will look at the situation of the thousands of cognitive workers living and working in the global capital of digital nomadic workers, Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, but also about the new solidarity mechanisms being developed by a new wave of labour mutuals (such as SMart) in old Europe, who are organizing solidarity mechanisms for autonomous workers. Reviewing the emergence of new trans-local and trans-national organized networks, including how the token economy is used by sectors of cognitive labor to reclaim surplus value from capital investors, we will inquire into potential alternatives at different scales of governance (urban, bio-regional, nation-state, and beyond).

Our review of the emerging answers will lead to the concept of the Partner State, i.e. a community-state form that enables and scales commons-based cooperation at all levels.

The annual conference of the European Artistic Research Network (EARN) will be hosted in 2018 by the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM) and Dublin School of Creative Arts & Media (DSCA) at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).

Key-note speakers include:

Michel Bauwens (P2P Foundation); Conflict Kitchen – Dawn Weleski & Jon Rublin (artists); Bernard Stiegler (philosopher)

This two-day conference seeks to address the impact of contributory economies on tradi- tional understandings of the nation and state. Since the 2008 financial crisis, alterna- tive economies have been increasingly explored through digitally networked communities, artistic practice and activist strategies that endeavour to transgress traditional links between nation and economy. Developed at a crucial time on the island of Ireland when Brexit is set to redefine centre/margin relations the conference seeks to engage with a number of themes within this context: nation and inter-nation; the nation and aesthet- ics; art and economy; P2P networks; digital economies; modes of exchange and modes of production; alternative economies; network aesthetics; populism and counter populism; aesthetics and the imagination; activist practices; geo-politics; island, archipelago and continent; centre and margin.

The guiding concept of the conference ‘Inter-Nation’ comes from the work of anthro- pologist Marcel Mauss, who in ‘A Different Approach to Nationhood’ (1920) proposed an original understanding of both concepts that opposes traditional definitions of state and nationalism. More recently, Bernard Stiegler has revisited Mauss’s definition of In- ter-Nation as a broader concept in support of contributory economies emerging in digital culture. Contributory economies are those exchange networks and peer-to-peer communities that seek to challenge the dominant value system inherent to the nation-state. Such dig- ital networks have the potential to challenge traditional concepts of sovereignty and geo-politics through complex technological platforms. Central to these platforms are a broad understanding of technology beyond technical devices to include praxis-oriented processes and applied knowledges inherent to artistic forms of research. Similarly, due to the aesthetic function of the nation, artistic researchers are critically placed to engage with the multiple registers at play within this conference, and to address these issues through multiple forms as they play out live on this island.

Photo by bookgrl

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Erik Olin Wright on Unconditional Basic Income: Progressive Potentials and Neoliberal Traps https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/erik-olin-wright-on-unconditional-basic-income-progressive-potentials-and-neoliberal-traps/2018/05/17 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/erik-olin-wright-on-unconditional-basic-income-progressive-potentials-and-neoliberal-traps/2018/05/17#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=70980 A recording of US professor Erik Olin Wright, speaking in Sidney Australia recently, about unconditional basic income and its anti-capitalist potential. This is not least for the support it would give to co-operative businesses and community-based care organisations. He makes the case for eroding capitalism by forming and expanding non-capitalist spaces within it. While the... Continue reading

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A recording of US professor Erik Olin Wright, speaking in Sidney Australia recently, about unconditional basic income and its anti-capitalist potential. This is not least for the support it would give to co-operative businesses and community-based care organisations. He makes the case for eroding capitalism by forming and expanding non-capitalist spaces within it. While the right-wing versions which get rid of every other aspect of the welfare state need to be guarded against, a left unconditional basic income is a necessary step to facilitate non-capitalist forms of production. See here for all our Basic Income content.

From the original notes to the podcast:

Within Envisioning Real Utopias, Erik Olin Wright argues that a social economy could be promoted if the state, through its capacity to tax, provided funding for socially organised non-market production and that the institution of an unconditional basic income could be one such policy. By partially delinking income from employment earnings, an unconditional basic income would enable voluntary associations of all sorts to create new forms of meaningful and productive work in the social economy. The result would be economic democracy by creating conditions of social power, organised through civil society to establish social empowerment.

In his return to the Department of Political Economy and the University of Sydney, as an Honorary Professor, Erik Olin Wright revisits and further develops these arguments with crucial import for economic policy and envisioning anti-capitalism in and beyond Australia.

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Apply Now for Sept 18! MA: Design for Cultural Commons – https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/launching-sept-18-ma-design-for-cultural-commons/2018/05/17 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/launching-sept-18-ma-design-for-cultural-commons/2018/05/17#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 07:00:00 +0000 https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=71140 Our colleague Torange Khonsari forwarded us this through the European Commons Assembly mailing list. Scroll down for details on how to apply. LAUNCHING FOR ADMISSION SEPTEMBER 2018 MA: Design for Cultural Commons – The Cass (London Metropolitan University) Although a movement and a model of practice there are few courses dedicated to the Commons and... Continue reading

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Our colleague Torange Khonsari forwarded us this through the European Commons Assembly mailing list. Scroll down for details on how to apply.

MA: Design for Cultural Commons – The Cass (London Metropolitan University)

Although a movement and a model of practice there are few courses dedicated to the Commons and even fewer for Cultural Commons. This course is not only to reward you with a post graduate qualification but also to support the movement of the commons through expanding its practitioners and its network. The course is 1 year full time and 2 years part-time (the part-time route allows you to work to earn money and set up your future organisation)

What are Commons and why relevant today:

The Commons discourse is informed by ideas, which have been around for hundreds of years. In current context of much inequality, the Commons discourse offers alternatives and models of sharing. Commons are about the assets that everyone should have the right to, forming resources that should benefit all, rather than being enclosed to just a few.

What you achieve:

In this course you’ll learn how resources are shared, protected, reclaimed, created, governed, used and distributed without overuse and abuse.You will create and develop a live project (anything from a novel to a supermarket) for your new operating organisation. The organisation will be formed, it’s governance designed, its financial structure set out and all policies written using Commoning as a model.

You will gain expertise in applying creative thinking towards asset sharing, mutual resources, self-governance and peer to peer economic models. Collaborating with cultural institutions and government agencies which we will facilitate, will enable you to develop related policies, projects, collaborations and open up new networks to position your Commons organisation. In the UK, co-production is being referred to in some government policies and tenders and the commons have been discussed in policies in the EU parliament. Beyond teaching you to initiate your commons projects and practice, you’ll learn how to raise funds, and make your common sustainable in the long term. On completion of the course, students will have an operational practice/organisation. There will be an array of optional modules, ranging from comparative public policy to social theories and citizenship, micro-economies and digital media. This is complemented with art and design teaching, visual communication and performance to architecture and photography. There is the opportunity to tailor your learning and construct your own unique curriculum.

If you are interested in the MA or wish to join the mailing list for talks, events on Commons contact tDOTkhonsariATlondonmetDOTacDOTuk

Apply by following the link: http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/design-for-cultural-commons—ma/

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