Civic Commons

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= Concept and specific project


Charlotte Hess:

"Peter Levine has written extensively on the civic commons (Levine 2002a&b, 2003, 2007a&b; Gastil and Levine 2005). A very interesting and useful text for business managers was put out by the Institute for the Future in 2005 (Saveri et al.). The authors explore emerging fields of knowledge and practice, looking for ways to think about two key business questions: “How can new insights about the dynamics of cooperation help us identify new and lucrative models for organizing production and wealth creation that leverage win–win dynamics; and How can organizations enhance their creativity and grow potential innovation with cooperation-based strategic models?” The authors draw heavily from the commons and collective action literature of Ostrom and colleagues." (


Levine, Peter. 2001. "Civic Renewal and the Commons of Cyberspace." National Civic Review 90(3):205-212.

Levine, Peter. 2002a. “Building the Electronic Commons: A Project of the Democratic Collaborative.” (Report)

Levine, Peter. 2002b. “Can the Internet Rescue Democracy? Toward an On-Line Commons.” In Democracy’s Moment: Reforming the American Political System for the 21st Century. R. Hayduk and K. Mattson, eds. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Levine, Peter. 2003. “A Movement for the Commons?” Responsive Community 13(4):28-39.

Levine, Peter. 2007a. “Collective Action, Civic Engagement, and the Knowledge Commons.” In Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice. C. Hess and E. Ostrom, eds. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Levine, Peter. 2007b. The Future of Democracy: Developing the Next Generation of Citizens. Lebanon, NH: Tufts University Press and University Press of New England.


Essay on the Peterborough Civic Commons project, UK

* Article: The CiviC Commons. A model for social action. By emma norris and sam mcLean. February 2011


"In 2009 Peterborough City Council and the Arts Council approached the RSA to develop a programme of interventions to strengthen civic pride in Peterborough by looking at how participation, attachment and innovation in the city’s public services and among its citizens might be enhanced.

The Civic Commons, which is one of the Citizen Power projects helping to deliver those outcomes, is a hybrid model of citizen participation — part deliberative participation, part capacity-building and part social action network — designed to meet local (and national) needs.

The Civic Commons initiative builds on the some of the challenges identified and lessons learned from previous experiences of engaging and empowering local people in Peterborough and beyond. The RSA is working with citizens, decision-makers and other organisations in Peterborough to develop a Peterborough Civic Commons between 2010 and 2012.

This document comprises a statement on the RSA’s thinking on the Civic Commons, and draws heavily on a review of existing participation literature and the local needs of Peterborough. The challenges of changing how citizens and communities engage with and contribute to overcoming local problems are significant. Here we make the case for how those challenges might be addressed."

Open Government Data initiative in the U.S.


"Civic Commons is just starting as an organization, however, we are committed to the following:

  • Facilitating the sharing of code among government entities, with an eye towards developing an “Open Civic Stack”
  • Connecting governments throughout all phases of technology procurement, and building systems for more transparent & informed technology choices
  • Developing and supporting Open Data and Open Standards as foundations of an “Open Civic API”
  • Spreading government technology best practices
  • Building a community of “civic hackers” and give them clear opportunities to assist in the development of government technology"