Source Document, version 4.3
The earth cries out for a new story:a story of a world that works for everyone.
Such a story invites us to consider there is more that unites us than divides us. Not only do we have a common genetic inheritance, we have a common cultural inheritance founded on a deep set of shared aspirations: for security, for the wellbeing of our loved ones, and for full participation in the possibilities of life.
These aspirations lead us to understand that effective stewardship of the biosphere is essential, that societal responsibilities must balance short-term and long-term requirements, and that informed citizens can effectively self-organize to manage their affairs.
The actualization of these aspirations is best served by a vibrant appreciation of the global commons: the rich reservoir of natural and cultural resources upon which we depend for life. The Commons Learning Alliance is dedicated to enabling people to deepen their understanding of and participation in the global commons.
While the term "commons" has been in use for centuries in one context or another, the "global commons" is a recent construct and has several meanings: (1) those resources that are shared by all of humanity, such as the sky, the oceans, the internet, human knowledge, or even the planet itself; (2) the sum of all various local and regional commons across the world; and (3) an operating assumption espousing that the natural resources of the earth and the cultural resources of humanity are to be sustainably and equitably stewarded for the benefit of all, both now and in the future.
We support the growing commons movement and people who want to learn about it with well-organized knowledge resources and educational programs featuring the commons. We offer our support to capacity building in commons group and organizations, as well as to educational institutions, with programs tailored to their needs.
The Commons Learning Alliance exists, also, for supporting the formation of communities of practice in the commons field and "strengthening the linkages between commons practitioners, scholars, and activists, so that we can learn from each other and support each other’s work" (David Bollier).
The Commons Learning Alliance offers four different but interrelated services or "spaces."
1. Community Learning Garden. It is an interactive, living repository of an expanding body of knowledge about the commons. In this space there are a range of commons-related documents organized by subject areas and tagged for easy find and reference. This is a Creative Commons-licensed, open-source space where you can browse, quote, add-to, reuse, repurpose or even remix resources.
Here, we make accessible as widely as possible the collected strategic insights emerging from key commons gatherings, e.g.: the Berlin Commons Conference and the Sustaining Commons: Sustaining Our Future” conference in Hyderabad. We facilitate the sharing and development of strategic reflection about the state of commons and its relationship with state, market and civil society.
2. Commons Campus. This is a learning environment where you can find two kinds of online courses:
E-learning courses on the commons. Some courses are introductory, others cover more advanced topics. Some course are free, others have a modest tuition to cover expenses.
Social learning courses that emphasize mutual exploration and shared innovation. As we learn together, we grow our collective intelligence.
We provide our advanced learning management system and online teaching methodologies as support to organizations wanting to offer courses on the commons. Our commons educators are also available to co-develop curricula for schools and higher education.
3. Common Forums. This is an interaction hub that hosts conversations about anything relating to the commons, including the development of the Commons Learning Alliance itself as a commons.
4. Online Library. This is a collection of downloadable, annotated resources related to various dimensions of the commons. Here you can find articles, research papers, links to books, videos, and websites, and other knowledge assets. Commoners are encouraged to add assets to the library so that they can be shared with others.
1. It's a Commons. The Commons Learning Alliance is itself a commons. This requires each of us to take responsibility for making the alliance as valuable a resource as possible. We do this by making suggestions for improvements, contributing where possible, volunteering to teach a course or lead a discussion group, and recommending the Alliance to others.
2. It's Open Source. This means that the assets and courses on the site, unless otherwise noted, belong to all the members of the commons. You can use these assets in your own work, as well as distribute them to others.
3. Relationships Matter. The commons comes alive through relationships: the lively interactions that we have with each other. We learn from each other, challenge each other, help each other. In doing so, we come to appreciate that we are, in the words of Martin Luther King, "caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."
4. A Radical Inquiry. The Commons Learning Alliance explores the premise that all life is an indivisible unity. And this unity is not some advanced state that we evolve into. Rather, it is a priori or prior to any divisions or difference-making mental or social structures that we tend to overlay on reality. In practice, this means that our decisions, behaviors, and actions take the totality into account, and we operate for the good of the whole. We invite you to join with us in a fearless, unbounded exploration of the implications and possibilities of this presumption.
5. Practically Speaking. The Commons Learning Alliance requires money and energy to keep going, add new things, and serve more people. Anyone can browse the resources in the library. To download or upload resources or to participate in courses or discussions, you simply join as a member. There is no membership fee for individual commoners (some courses have tuition) but everyone is invited to make a donation.
The Commons Learning Alliance is a growing worldwide community of people participating in the global commons. We want to catalyze a knowledge-sharing network of commons-related groups and organizations, practitioners, researchers, and policy makers.
First, and foremost, it consists of commoners who want to expand their knowledge of the commons, draw on and contribute to the collective intelligence of this global movement.It also consists of commons educators who host and facilitate courses on commons-related matters. Educators are encouraged to use the library resources and courses in their own work.
There is a hosting team that is coordinating the development of the platform and its community knowledge garden.
There are sponsors of the Commons Learning Alliance, and they support the Alliance with annual fees. Current institutional members include the Anthroposphere Institute and the University of Notre Dame's Global Commons Initiative.
Much has been written about the starfish as an organizational metaphor. Among its interesting abilities is regeneration. Since the body of the starfish is decentralized, each major organ system is replicated in each leg. Break off a leg and a new one will grow. What's more the broken leg will grow a whole new starfish.
In some sense the emerging global commons movement is like a starfish: decentralized, yet capable of collective intelligence; adaptable; self-organizing; and enduring. Effectively, it is a constellation of energy patterns within a single, identifiable structural form. So, too, the Commons Learning Alliance intends to exemplify these characteristics.