Our local conference, organized in a partnership between the Neahtawanta Center and SEEDS: the local crossroads, home of an invigorating, inspiring call to action.
Great Lakes Bioneers chose the theme RECLAIMING THE COMMONS as a frame to use for selecting local programming and events partners.
What are the commons? When managed properly, they are abundant resources that enable us to overcome scarcities and manage crises. The commons include:
When the commons are ‘enclosed’ they become commodities; with exclusive borders built around them, they become private property and are no longer common. Commodification and privatization are curre:t dangerous trends that breed scarcity: witness the fights based around access to farmland, water, parks, broadband, politicians, plant genomes and so on.
What can the Common People do? Recognizing and reclaiming the commons all around us is a radical yet practical activity and necessary for our times. The commons begin with the exercise of a claim such as "The water of the Great Lakes Basin is a commons not to be privatized or turned into a commodity." The commons thrive when the people share responsibility, exercise effective governance and practice justice. There are many models and movements, including cooperative economics, open source culture, public trust declarations, land trusts, participatory governance, and community gardening.
Folks who came to the conference had a chance to hear the latest news about the movements toward greater common ground and tools being used to increase and improve our commons - plus the opportunity to connect to people with much in common!
As editor-at-large of the groundbreaking website On The Commons, a senior fellow at Project for Public Spaces, a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler, and author of All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons, Jay Walljasper is truly an expert voice in the increasingly important global discussion of our shared commons. We are thrilled to bring Jay to Traverse City as our opening keynote speaker, inspiring us to Reclaim the Commons!
Laurie Cirivello is a Traverse City native and 20-year veteran of community media. She is currently Executive Director of the Grand Rapids Community Media Center and co-author of the Alliance for Community Media Access Start-up Manual, in which she provides advice and consultation for numerous access organizations. As our Saturday keynote, she will uncover the deep influence that the media commons has in today’s society by exploring the power shift to social media.
Bob Russell is co-director of the Neahtawanta Research and Education Center, innkeeper, cook, website developer, grandpa, dad, husband, and generalist. He has been organizing the Great Lakes Bioneers for ten years and has watched our community learn to visualize and understand some of the key concepts of the Bioneers. “It’s all connected.” Sure, but what does that actually mean in terms of the commons, ecology, culture, and resilience? Bob will share his insights on the future through the lens of local events and speak to the generalizable process of creating a more resilient community.