The Chamber of Commons bolsters the interests of commons and commoners.
Commons are shared resources managed by communities with an aim of assuring their sustainability and inclusivity. They foster bottom-up initiative and community self-determination, while keeping a close watch on the needs of the wider public. Think of a food cooperative which brings together consumers and farmers and helps them build a food system based on fair pricing, healthy farming and social cohesion. Or a collaborative, digitised collection of cultural heritage, which strengthens the cultural commons - the life blood of society.
The Chamber of Commons brings to light the diversity of commons ideas and practices. The tension between the radical ambition of the commons and the dry reality of the Chamber of Commerce awakens our fantasy. Why do we still continue the old economic model of competition, privatisation and rent seeking? Can we develop a Chamber and Registry that are suited for collaborative and generative economic models?
The Chamber of Commons is an initiative of the Waag Commons Lab, in collaboration with Commons Network, De Meent, OBA and the Sustainable Finance Lab. Its mission is to raise public awareness on the commons, tickle the senses, and demonstrate new models through which the commons can address societal questions.
The following activities will take place between October 2018 and December 2019:
1. Mapping Commons
In Mapping Commons the landscape of the commons, in its full diversity, will be charted and disclosed. The mapping and supporting activities form the basis for new connections between commons initiatives through which the exchange of knowledge will be greatly enhanced.
2. Making Commons
Making Commons involves the development of tools with which commons can be analysed and designed. Like a money game, which brings into view the role of money on the common good and elicits alternatives. Or the Commons Design Canvas: ditch that old business model canvas and develop your own common.
The Chamber of Commerce's SBI registry boasts hundreds of categories for profit companies, compared to only a handful for non-profits. Commons initiatives would also benefit from visibility and recognition. To this end, a clear taxonomy is imperative, helping potential partners to more readily identify commons initiatives and understand how they can support them. This programme researches how such a ‘trade registry’ for the commons would look like and develops a prototype.
4. Making the Chamber
Making the Chamber encompasses the establishment of the Chamber of Commons. The Chamber assumes a physical form by way of open gatherings (inspired on the former project Open Planbureau) and artistic exploration.
Over the course of a year, the Chamber of Commons wil collaborate with a number of commons initiatives to research how their practices can be supported. The Chamber will also start a number of ‘ventures’: the Bean to Bar Coop, a cooperative that will develop a cocoa chain based on commons principles, and Gene.Coop, a cooperative established for the protection of the members' genetic information and develops a commons model for DNA.
This project is made possible by the BankGiro Lottery Fund.