Commons Network

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= U.S., European networks + concept by Christian Siefkes

The European Network

= "a non-profit advocacy organization and think-tank that engages in policy formulation as well as public debate, promoting the public good through commons-based solutions".


Focusing on open access:

" The Commons Network is a civil society initiative working on a local, national and European level. We feel a new balance favoring the public good needs be found in many different spheres of society. The challenge is to create political will and to design laws and institutions that facilitate and allow for this. The commons approach allows for a comprehensive way to confront this challenge.

We are also a knowledge advocacy initiative with a social justice and sustainability approach. We aim to overcome the tension that at times exists between a strict individual rights approach, often embracing a narrow atomistic view of society, and the defense of collective social equity and ecological protection. While we are also adamant in our defense of individual rights we go beyond this point of view and aim for broader socially just policies that promote fair institutional frameworks for the generation and management of knowledge." (

Contact via [email protected]


Sophie Bloemen:

"How to fix Europe? One thing desperately needed is a vision that connects the many issues that have our concern. The perspective of the commons; embracing the idea that some resources such as air and water as well as certain non-material goods are owned by everyone – could be such a vision. Relating to many of the issues people care about today, this perspective points us in a certain direction. It inspires us to manage goods in a way that ensures equitable access, while sustainable and participatory.

Although the last few hundred years of history has mostly seen the enclosure of our physical commons such as the forests people used for their subsistence, recently digital commons have catalyzed the revival of the commons perspective. Digital commoning initiatives have shown how goods can be produced collaboratively, peer-to-peer and community based. They have shown the possibility of another economic model; one not based on private property. Famous examples are free software, Wikipedia and linux. These developments have helped us think about managing other goods such as scientific knowledge, water, and public spaces, as a commons as well.

In some ways the idea of commons is Utopian, but utopian in a good way, as a vision to inspire and to give direction. Not as blueprint for a society to be forced upon everyone. Utopian visions can give direction to smaller projects that are attainable, allowing us to build small utopias: when like-minded people come together around an issue and make it work through a project or political action. This can be on a local level, national, transnational or a European level, and can be many different things. One could think all the initiatives emerging in crisis-affected Europe where one sees a new culture of self-organisation and collective solidarity emerging. Or think of Teatro Valle Occupato in Bologna, Italy; where people started running their local theatre as a commons in order to prevent privatization – the big idea being culture is a common good to be managed as commons. Or campaigns around net-neutrality in the law, on a national and European level, led by the grand idea of a free Internet equitably accessible to all.

The Commons ideal is one utopian vision among others, yet one relevant to many of the fights fought and initiatives taken today by civil society. As an upcoming European political narrative, it is not finalized, and it means different things to different people dependent on their context. Yet the commons perspective can help us connect our struggles, projects and energy across Europe and beyond." (

The U.S. Network


"Do you seek to help communities collaborate in new ways? Are you interested in creative resource sharing? Do you often think about what we all share—and work to reclaim and protect it for future generations?

If you are drawn to these kind of commons-based approaches, you belong in the Commons Network, a group of individuals and organizations who advance the commons in communities all over the world."

The Concept

Concept proposed by Christian Siefkes.

"Free design is an important building block for spreading peer production, but it is not enough. A second topic discussed in Hiddinghausen <> was therefore how to facilitate and encourage the sharing and the shared production of physical goods and of services in all areas of life. My proposal here is called the *Commons Network.*

The Commons Network is inspired by the practices of free software and free content projects, where people do things they like to do (such as writing software or texts) and, by doing so, produce goods that are useful for others; but also by the approach of wireless community networks where the participants jointly build a free network, allowing everyone to transfer data through the free network or to access the Internet through it. Community networks are interesting because they organize the free sharing of limited resources that cannot just be copied freely (bandwidth and Internet access). And some community networks are interesting in that they're self-organizing and self-healing: whenever nodes (participating computers) join or leave such a _mesh network_, it reconfigures itself to ensure that all data still finds the best route through the network.

The idea of the Commons Network (future URL: is to build a loose network of people and projects that is based on *commons* (goods which are jointly used, managed or owned) and that allows the free sharing and the shared production of goods and resources among everybody who wants to get involved. Ideally, the network should also become a self-organizing and self-healing "mesh," where production processes spontaneously adapt to the needs and wishes of the people involved and where anybody can join or leave the network without causing disruption." (

More Information

See also: Sharing Network

This page previously held information about the Commons Network Coalition