November 19th marked the our 4th Commons Charter online event -- a bioregional meetup for supporters to share why this Charter is vital and how we (as individuals and as a group) could awaken this commons agreement across the various shorelines.
The conversation included people from the Wellington Water Waters, Community Commons Working Group, Children of the Wild, a Commons documentary maker, a social justice advocate, and one of GLC's animators. You can watch the discussion too.
Our round of introductions revealed common ground on wanting to change the language (and related behaviours) on how we relate to water. The group was against more corporate control (like Nestle, Coke, & Pepsi selling packaged water), but the conversation was definitely more about what people DO WANT.
This included a more spiritual and sacred connection to the lands and waters, an identity and biography that better complimented the living bioregion, and a deeper connection with water based in healing and gratitude. A reference to Elinor Ostrum's phrase "a world beyond markets and states" helped us focus more on commons possibilities rather than common barriers for water protection.
We heard a global point of view where Mayans and Russians are managing commons. While each place shapes the commons in their own image, Kevin reminded us that "people get it" all over the world. From wampum belts to the Occupy Movement and from the Haldimand Proclamation to the Greenbelt Foundation, people are making agreements with each other on how to share and manage the lands and waters.
There is also the need for more shared experiences. Children of the Wild want to sail across the Great Lakes to plant seeds of a Great Lakes Commons movement, while converging with other people journeying across these waters. By boat, foot, or bike, people could come together and re-connect to their common relationship with water.
We talked about the Right to Water (as with the Right to Housing) and the need for shared markers of human dignity. While governments can choose to ignore these rights, people can still organize and hold power accountable. They can also step into their shared responsibility (as water protectors) to animate an equally powerful force for change.
Commoning (the act of making/managing a commons) is often hiding in plain sight. There are dozens of projects and campaigns (just in the Great Lakes region alone) that are exercising better reciprocity with the land, that are decentralizing decision making, that are planning 7-generations into the future, and that are prospering "beyond market and state". The key for a Great Lakes Commons is more mutual aid with these efforts.
We have one more Charter Campfire conversation this year on December 17th. We hope you can join us in this ongoing work of mutual aid. In the new year we hope to host more strategic dialogues on many of the themes this event (and the previous Charter Cafés) revealed.