Defending the Commons

I call myself a “Public Defender” because the very concept of “public” is under threat in America and in my home city, Chicago. Somehow the notion of “public” has become a dirty word and has been de-valued. Oddly, as “public school” teachers have become demonized and public services slashed we see the private sector greedily lusting after our public assets for private monetization. We need MORE public, not less.

All About Privatization from Thomas Tresser

Extending the public sphere is part of an even larger fight to protect and extend the Commons. What is the Commons? It is the sum total of all that we share. It is stuff and concepts. It is nature and it is culture. It is public education and public parks. It is our air, water and environment. Think of what no one can own – what no one SHOULD own. Think of what we are stewards of – what we are keeping in trust for our children and great grandchildren. That is the Commons. Download the 560 page “Vocabulary of the Commons” from The Foundation for Ecological Security, India.

Here’s a great web site with many essays and resources on the commons –

Grab a chapter of a great resource, “All That We Share” by former UTNE Magazine Editor, Jay Walljasper – Download the chapter as a PDF.

David Bollier is a major thinker and educator around issues of the commons.

Here’s a nifty video that helps explain the commons:

Here’s a three minute definition in song form by Portland musician, David Rovics.

Over the past four years I’ve devoted most of my civic work to defending the commons from rip-offs, encroachments, sell-offs and privatization deals from corrupt local government.

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