Promise of the Commons

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* Documentary: The Promise of the Commons. By JOHN D. LIU & PATRICK AUGENSTEIN.



"For thousands of years, different ideologies have come and gone, but one that has always endured, even if it is now being steadily eroded, is that of The Commons — cooperatively managed lands and lifestyles that worked for the common good. The Commons encouraged decentralisation and relationship — healthy relations between people and between people and place. Natural systems and human needs together created symbioses which employed, sustained and nurtured both.

Well over half of the world’s population lives on traditional lands to which they have no formal title. They live as most people throughout history have always done. But, in a rapidly privatising, wealth appropriating world, their rights to critical resources are being steadily eroded by corporate interests. This translates to their sustainable and even restorative use of those lands being supplanted by short-terminism and extraction. Helping to solve their problems may well solve our problems — whilst also giving us something to pattern our own communities on." (



"In the mid-1990’s I began a participatory process with a number of media and broadcasting colleagues in Beijing that led to the creation of the Environmental Education Media Project for China (EEMPC). I have directed the EEMPC (now the EEMP) from its beginning. The EEMPC has distributed over 1000 environmental films in China since then. The EEMPC also helped found the “China Environment and Sustainable Development Reference and Research Center (CESDRRC) and the China HIV/AIDS Information Center (CHAIN).

Over the years our activities have broadened beyond China to include the entire world and to include the production of environmental and ecological films. The name was shortened to Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) when we were asked to work in other countries.

The Promise of the Commons questions the orthodox opinion that only private ownership can protect the ecosystems. It discusses the thoughts and rights of people around the world and shows how landless people are protecting the common heritage." (