What are the Commons?

We believe that resources essential to human life should be considered our common-wealth. These Commons are the collective heritage of humanity, the shared resources of nature and society that we inherit, create and use. They range from the traditional (biodiversity, clean air, rivers, forests, historic knowledge, indigenous cultures) to the emerging (solar, wind and other natural energy, intellectual property, non-commercial aspects of the internet, including platform cooperatives). They provide the foundation of our social, cultural and economic life.  

A Commons strives to achieve a balance between individual and collective systems in regulating the distribution of resources. These resources and related infrastructure need to be kept viable and financially solvent.

To this end, a Commons functions most effectively when it is managed by the very people who benefit from it through self-governance, collaboration and collective action. Responsibility and benefits are shared, ensuring that the minimum requirements of life are available to everyone at an equitable cost. Production is geared to consumption rather than profit.

Why are the Commons important?

It is becoming increasingly evident that human survival depends on the rational management of resources. To ensure a hopeful future for ourselves and coming generations, we must vigorously protect and promote the Commons.

Each of us depends on the Commons to meet our basic human needs. It is up to us — you and me — to protect them for future generations. If we cannot answer the questions: will water supplies be adequate and accessible and will food be plentiful and affordable when our grandchildren come of age, will the environment be healthy and access to natural resources plentiful, then we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

But if we do take the necessary steps now to protect our Commons through education and coordinated action in the creation of new legal and community structures, we can answer these questions in the affirmative. And we will leave those who come after us a different world than the ownership society of exploitation and aggression that we see today. When we claim our sovereign right to manage and revalue our common goods, civilization will be transformed.

Action Priorities

Within the wide spectrum of the commons, our priority focus is on water, food and energy, as these are fundamental to life, interdependent and vulnerable to future shortages. Of the three, our primary focus initially will be on the management of water supplies in the U.S., given that surface water sources are being acquired by commercial interests and vast underground aquifers are being drained at alarming rates.

EDA is developing an information base which is available to identify key legislative issues at the Federal, state and local levels. These are prioritized to enable focused action. Our goal is to provide comprehensive, relevant information as your advocate in assuring that our common resources are being managed for the public good. We are here to support you in lobbying your elected representatives.

We will work to shift decision-making from corporate managers and shareholders to the actual stakeholders in our shared Commons. Trusting the wisdom of an informed, engaged electorate, we are committed to restoring an equal voice to all in this process.