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“We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
—Aldo Leopold, From “A Sand County Almanac”
The story of the new paradigm begins with our planetary crisis, a systemic, life-threatening crisis created by the rise of predatory economic and social systems and a system-imposed addiction driving humanity to consume in a blind pursuit of endless growth. This crisis stems from humanity’s cultural & spiritual belief in separation from and power over nature. The old paradigm has brought our species to the dark night of our collective soul. I find it difficult to contemplate our situation without feeling a profound sense of loss and sadness for the terrible harm we have caused to other living beings.
What gives me great hope is the new paradigm emerging from this dark night. The foundation of the new civilization is the knowledge of interrelatedness. Once considered the purview of mystics and indigenous peoples, awareness of our interrelated and interdependent world is emerging everywhere. I see it in science, social networks, interspirituality, the economic realm, climate change, and the ever-expanding social movements working for a just and resilient world.
Another aspect of the new paradigm is humanity’s developmental shift from an adolescent-like focus on “me” to a more mature focus on the collective “we”. Our old stories feature a single hero and friends who accompany him on his journey. What is now emerging is the story of a collective hero. The collective hero is all of us, the “we” becoming conscious of the inherent power grounded within our relatedness, rising to become stewards of the web of life. When we bring our hearts, minds, hands and will together to create a grand collaboration to serve life and prevent a great extinction, the collective hero will emerge as an unstoppable force of nature.
How do we become conscious, loving, collaborative stewards of the web of life? Where do we begin? We seek a deeper understanding of something we learned how to do as small children. We learn to share.
I see the sharing renaissance all around. People are sharing food, knowledge, tools, cars, and software. What is really exciting is the dialogue about sharing what all our lives depend upon, things like water and air. The necessity to share is bringing something long buried to the surface: the commons. Commons are systems for sharing and preserving natural and cultural resources. They are sharing solutions, providing a way to manage resources in a manner that ensures they will available and protected for future generations. Working together to manage all we share (commoning) is the heart of the new civilization.
I developed an intuitive understanding of the commons early in life from unitive experiences which began in the late 1970’s. I was introduced to the concept of the commons while organizing salons in the early 2000’s. As I learned more about the commons I came to understand that all social, economic and ecological justice issues are commons-related. Motivated by love for the earth and other living beings, by outrage and sadness at the great harm, and by a desire to serve life and make a difference during these historic times, I founded CommonSpark, a collective of commons activators in late 2010. The Commons Library Project is CommonSpark collective’s current focus.
When in uncharted territory, one of the first tasks is to make the invisible visible. CommonSpark is building an online library to help people see what we share and the emerging movement to reclaim and create commons. The library will include a directory of commons, commons organizations, people and projects, and threats to the commons. An atlas of commons maps and threats will help people see the interrelated systems at work. We will help spark the creation of new commons by providing development tools and a crowdfunding platform for commons projects.
We hope the library will be a potent catalyst for the commons movement and a tool for people and organizations involved in the protection and reclaiming of commons worldwide.
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