Commons Transition supports the transition to a world where communities equitably, fairly and collectively manage our own resources – co-creating caring economies that work for all. The Commons offer a bold new vision for the future, where communities create living systems to meet their needs and care for the non-human world and the rights of future generations. Evolving away from the competitive Market State and obsolete, centrally-planned systems, the Commons is a system based on the practices and needs of civil society and the environment it inhabits at the local, regional, national and global levels.
The challenges we seek to address
Communities everywhere are facing an accelerating cascade of crises. Economic inequality, topsoil and biodiversity loss, species extinction, carbon emissions, energy misuse, biosphere degradation, the rise of neo-fascism, racist, colonial and heteropatriarchal attitudes — all are symptoms of a skewed value system based on scarcity-driven, domination mentalities. The roots of these problems can seem quite out of reach for ordinary people and communities. Meanwhile, social movements have long focused on single issues rather than broader, more integrated approaches to systemic change.
Since the rise of agriculture and the creation of elite-controlled surplus, hierarchical systems have been the norm among predominant economic and cultural systems. Caught in this logic, neither profit-driven extractive markets nor hierarchical socio-economic and centrally-planned state systems are capable of self-correction.
Fortunately, more realistic solutions to interdependent problems are emerging from pioneering communities and networks. The challenge is to develop greater mutual awareness among these emerging solution-oriented groups and catalyse greater participation among the general public.
Characterised by openness, reciprocity and stewardship, the Commons paradigm offers flexible, integrative solutions that combine three approaches:
- Free: open, shareable, and with equitable access;
- Fair: just distribution for participating commoners and in social solidarity with all humankind, inclusive of varieties in race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, and citizenship status; and
- Alive and engaged with nature: acknowledging our integral role as responsible stewards and restorers, not dominators and destructors, of nature.
These are the three primary approaches informing our attitude to the commons. However, while these qualities are present as secondary aspects of markets and institutional politics, they are often put in competition, and rarely integrated or made mutually supportive. We believe that a Commons framework can be the glue between the three, offering locally grounded, yet globally connected alternatives in politics, culture, livelihoods, manufacturing and ecology.
Why this project is relevant now
The triumph of “democratic capitalism,” often touted as the “end of history,” has not arrived as predicted after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Instead we have seen the growth of totalising, hierarchical systems that falsely promise a general emancipation. While there has been strong resistance to these trends, the market/state system persists in attempting to restore the utopian dreams of neoliberalism via global trade, deregulation, fiscal austerity, and restraints on democratic processes. Alternatives based on the logic of Commons and P2P processes are emerging and gaining attention, but their further evolution depends on meeting three challenges:
- Many changemakers are not aware of the Commons and how a Commons framework could bring together single-issue struggles into a larger narrative that respects and builds on diversity.
- The growing but diffuse Commons movement needs to coordinate its work and “go mainstream” in order to pose a serious bottom-up challenge to entrenched systems.
- The Commons movement needs to engage with progressives and existing public institutions to radically reimagine the functioning of state power.
We seek address these challenges by better communicating Commons frameworks and introducing them more vigorously into mainstream public debate.
Our transformative, long term vision
The project’s aims are twofold and complementary:
- Engage communities in commons thinking and practices; and
- Provide support for existing commons-based projects.
This website is a database and archive of stories, inspiration, practical experiences and policy proposals that support this aim to move towards a more free, fair and alive way of organising ourselves. Basing a civil society on the Commons (including the collaborative stewardship of our shared resources) would enable a more egalitarian, just, and environmentally stable society.
The proposals showcased here go beyond rhetoric and are inspired by successful, self-organised working communities that maintain themselves and their environments through Commons Based Peer Production, Property and Governance.
Please browse through the sections below to find out more.
Commons Transition Plans
Policy documents designed to enable real world practices towards a society based on shared material and knowledge commons. We share them to inspire civil society collectives at the local, regional, national and global level, to adapt or change them to their particular contexts.
Commons Transition Past Projects
Information and resources for past Commons Transition projects. Includes information on Ecuador’s FLOK Society Project and the Catalan Integral Cooperative non-statist Transition Plan.
Featured projects, both transnational and region specific, working towards a Commons Transition. Includes a brief overview of each project and links to additional material and resources .