What is the Commons and what is Social Solidarity Economy?
What is the Commons? A Commons is more than a set of shared resources. A Commons is a place where values, such as equality and social solidarity come first. A place dedicated toward the welfare, sustainability and creation of Community. As a verb to Common or to Commune means to make or participate in Community.
Commons can include tangible places or things we share but also the intangible such as knowledge and culture. To quote Anthropologist Stephen Gudeman "Without a Community there can be no Commons and without a Commons there can be no Community".
However there is a tension that exists for communities that come together around these kinds of incommensurable values as they inevitably negotiate their relationship with the world of commensurate value through that tool by which the value of so many things is measured, that is money.
Solidarity Economy builds bridges between these Communities who have a shared commitment toward the common good and understand that culture and environment are part of who they are and not resources to be extracted and traded for private profit. Solidarity Economy networks create circuits of exchange and organise to put economy to work for, and bring together, Community and Cultural groups, Urban Gardens, Sharing Initiatives, Up-cyclers, Free-cyclers, Recyclers, Artists and Makers, Community Markets, Community Currencies, Fair Trade, Cooperatives and more.
By strengthening relationships between these groups and making their diversity visible, solidarity as a practice acknowledges and celebrates that not only are other worlds possible but they are already here.>
Kevin Flanagan is an Irish artist and activist. He previously worked with the P2P Foundation . He is a Phd candidate at the department of Anthropology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth and his research is on Urban Commons.