Berlin Commons Conference/Workshops/GlobalVillages

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Global Villages: finding common ground between mountain villages around the world

After the self-presentation of the participants and their particular interests and questions for the workshop, we decided to keep the discussion on the local level and on concrete problems. The questions our team posed were-

  • what are the similarities between villages
  • how can villages connect or create a network so as to integrate villages into something new
  • how can we use information technology to enable life in the villages
  • how to overcome the problem of local communities not being voiced and the issue of NGOs, activities and academics not representing those communities
  • how to represent creative local action and facilitate self-organization mechanisms for participation of local level decisions on the wider level

First, the case of the Greek island of Ikaria was presented; the natural commons of the island and the recent developments that will be brought about by the new austerity measures of the Greek government. That is, the enclosure of the islands natural commons, peoples civil commons and the dismemberment of the Ikaran society. Proposals were immediately made, like civil disobedience, the use of 2006 Forest Rights Act of India and the creation of a trust.

We then agreed that many solutions will spark from the sharing of the rich experiences of the villages. We agreed that we have to build structures to connect local communities where the will be able to identify shared problems, the most important of which is the threat of their subsistence livelihoods. In those structures, villages will also be able to digest information coming from global resources constantly.

We recognized the challenge that stems from people who act as "agents" who are usually educated and who even use a different language than that of the villagers. The idea that was proposed was a layered organization of informal & formal structure composed by local people who would act as "ambassadors" of their communities, people who could spread information from the local level and who could plan action, so as to bridge the world of activism with that of everyday people. The complexity of village organization was also stressed and the need to respect their local dynamics.

On the practical level, the creation of websites and a digital meeting space -that is, an internet streaming platform -- was proposed, where villages will share their stories, images of community life and their stories of empowerment. The regularity of these meetings were also stressed, as as to renew the bonds among the communities. We also recognized that such a website or digital network is in fact the creation of a knowledge commons. The outcome of such a mutual sharing and learning would be the creation of formal knowledge from diverse and rich local knowledge.

Editor Maria Bareli, University of Greece.


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  • There is a new organisation which would match nicely with the goals of our Icarian friends and many others: ERCA European Rural Communities Association - see; They will meet next year in Berlin and we should see how we can use this meeting in May. FranzN