Exploring the Creation of a Pioneer Valley Chamber of Commoning

October 8, 2018 (6:30–8:30 pm)
Amherst, Massachusetts

Date & time: October 8, 6:30–8:30 pm

Location: Amherst Media, 246 College Street (Route 9)

Agenda: Roundtable discussion of the idea of forming a “Chamber of Commoning” in the Pioneer

A great many endeavors in the Pioneer Valley could be best understood as commons. A commons arises whenever people come together to self-organize their own systems for meeting needs, with an accent on bottom-up participation and governance, open-ended creativity, and social fairness.

We’re talking about the “social economy” of CSA farms and cooperatives, land trusts and co- housing projects, open source networks and makerspaces, open scholarship and open education, community service projects and organizations (such as local media centers) and the social justice work of churches, synagogues and mosques. The Pioneer Valley is a great source of energy, social connection, new ideas, and the meeting of real needs. But we wonder if these different types of commons are too isolated from each other. We wonder if creating a shared space for more regular discussion across these types of commons could potentially enhance their well-being and encourage cooperative learning about commoning practice.

That’s why we are convening this meeting. We think the idea of a “Chamber of Commoning” in the Pioneer Valley could help. But, of course, the viability of this idea would depend entirely on you and the other people invited to this meeting.

For what it’s worth, we are not alone: the commons is a burgeoning international movement, especially in Europe and the Global South. Countless initiatives see the commons as a promising vehicle for rethinking social and political action, and for addressing some of the fundamental political and social problems of our time.

David is an author, activist, and scholar of the commons and Director of the Reinventing the Commons Program at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics.

Charlie is a professor in Environmental Conservation and Public Policy at UMass Amherst, who does commons related research and is organizing the first global WorldCommonsWeek.org event.

Marilyn is a librarian, open education advocate, and proponent of open scholarship in her position as Head of the Office of Scholarly Communication at the University Libraries at UMass.

Maxine is a student at Smith College, where she is majoring in sociology and Global South Development Studies.