From DAVID BOLLIER
The Occupy movement is beginning to discover the commons, and the result could be a rich and productive collaboration. This was the lesson that I took from a three-day conference, “Making Worlds: A Forum on the Commons,” hosted by Occupy Wall Street in Brooklyn this past weekend. Rarely have I seen so many ordinary people from diverse backgrounds embrace the commons idea with such ease and enthusiasm.
There was a certain cosmic appropriateness that this gathering was held in a church meeting hall, the Church of the Ascension in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This is the kind of humble, out of the way setting that gave rise to the civil rights movement 50-60 years ago. Church basements virtually require us to shed our pretensions and credentials, and to get real with each other. As they say in the Occupy world, this was a “truth event” – an occasion meant to rip a hole in the fabric of mainstream culture and provoke some deep and honest reflection on the truth.
Can the commons paradigm take us to higher ground? For the 100-plus people who showed up, the forum was an occasion to consider how the commons can open up new vistas in “alternative economies, open source, education, environment, technology, labor, politics, race, gender, sexuality and more.” In typical Occupy style, the meetings were run in a fairly loose fashion; it was not always clear who was “running” the meeting because many people intervened at various times.
And yet things never got out of hand, and I cannot recall a meeting of this size that was richer, more provocative and constructive. People really listened to each other. People actively invited everyone to speak out, especially those who were more reticent. Your professional credentials