About the Sharing the Commons theme


What is the appropriate place of land and natural resources in a just and sustainable economy?  Should land be a commodity traded on the market to the highest bidder, allowing those with ownership to benefit from our common heritage?  If not via the market, how might land and natural resources be otherwise allocated? Peter Barnes, author of Who Owns the Sky?, will frame this theme, offering definitions of the commons and presenting mechanisms to ensure fair allocation and distribution of income. He will be joined by speakers in the community-land-trust movement and conservation-land-trust movement as well as those working with indigenous rights to land.  Workshops will also examine attempts to restore the commons through ecology-promoting agriculture in rural and urban contexts in Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, and the United States.



For information about the workshops, please consult our workshop page which will be updated as information becomes available. 


Online Resources

Watch videos, read articles, and explore blogs and websites.


Annotated Bibliography

The annotated bibliography contains more scholarly and technical materials related to this theme.  Download a pdf of the Sharing the Commons annotated bibliography.

Related Books

Our staff has compiled book lists on each conference theme on WorldCat.org a catalog of libraries around the world. Use WorldCat to locate a book at a library near you. Explore the Sharing the Commons book list.




Peter Barnes 2006 Article on Common Wealth and Property

Common property is normally managed as a unit on behalf of the whole community. Typically also, future as well as living generations are taken into account by the managers. A classic case is the medieval common pasture; its survival for centuries, contrary to the ‘tragedy’ myth, is the ultimate example of sustainable management.     read more






Short Overview of the Notion of the Commons






Peter Barnes's Schumacher Lecture, "Capitalism, the Commons, and Divine Right"

Today I want to look at these twin problems of capitalism—inequality and the lack of permanence—through a new lens. That lens is the commons. Why this particular lens? Let me back up and say that even before I read Schumacher, I had been struggling to understand the capitalist system in which we live. First, as a boy crunching numbers for my father’s books on the stock market, then as a student of economics in college, later as a journalist and a political activist, and lastly, for twenty years, as a business person. My main motive for being a business person was not to make a lot of money but to see how far the boundaries of capitalism could be pushed by working from within.      continue







Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx Explains the Link Between Economic and Environmental Injustice







Majora Carter's October 2007 Lecture on Her Model for Environmental Justice

Statistically speaking I really shouldn’t be here. I’m from the South Bronx in New York City. I grew up during a time when America’s cities were emptying into the suburbs and neighborhoods like mine were literally burning. The economics of the time dictated that it was more profitable for landlords to collect insurance money by burning their own buildings down rather than trying to reinvest in them. In that environment kids like me were more likely to be pregnant in their teens, addicted to drugs, dead, or all of the above. My own brother survived two tours in the Vietnam War, only to be gunned down several blocks away from my family’s home.     continue reading






Selection from the Documentary, The Corporation, on Boundary Issues






Alana Hartzok Speaks for "Democracy, Earth Rights, and the Next Economy"

It is clear to so many of us now that our current form of economy—some call it monopoly or corporate capitalism—does not serve the highest and best interests of either the people or the planet. Permit me to dream for a moment, for sometimes out of our visions flow new realities. Here is my wish list for the Next Economy.       read more







Lew Daly, "How the Rich are Taking our Common Inheritance"







Charles Turner's 2007 Schumacher Lecture, "What About Us, The Earth's People?"

A poet friend, Bob Walthall, calls America an Anachronism Motivated by an Economic Reasoning more Injurious than cancer and AIDS in a human body. Why is it more injurious? Because if as a country we are not willing to recognize our human responsibility to be stewards of the earth, including its people, and our responsibility to one another, we continue to function as a cancerous growth destroying not only ourselves but also our environment, the planet. Cancer is a growth that devours its surroundings, and if we’re going to treat that kind of disease within the human body politic, we have to begin with those who are most affected by it, the unemployed.   continue reading






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