Why is this distinction important ?
Sheila Foster explains:
“The idea that like natural resources/commons the city can not just be over-consumed but also unjustly consumed. The commons is a way to call attention to this and to describe not just a practice of commoning (cooperatives, co-managed space and collaborative produced goods, etc) but also a prescriptive or normative claim about who has access to resources and how those resources are allocated, as well as how who decides. Thus, the commons describes the city itself as both a collective resources in terms of distributive concerns but also as a political and economic entity that needs to be managed differently.
The analogy I tried to draw in the Huff Post piece is with the natural commons. The concern is not just that natural resources (our collective good) is being overconsumed but that also it is being unjustly consumed, as in the case of developed countries and the “ecological debt” they owe to developing countries. In the same way, the city is being unjustly consumed by economic elites and the “commons” is a way not just to call attention to that but also to rethink how urban goods and resources are distributed (resource allocation) and how decisions about those goods are made (the governance piece) . In this sense, the commons is a disruptive claim about the way that we think about the city, its resources, and how they are managed.”