From the start, Great Lakes Commons has been seeding a transformative approach to current water governance. Using the histories and frameworks from both 'commons' and 'Indigenous' sources, we continue to map how these principles and practices enrich our connection and protection with these waters. But there's always also been a critical tension between these sources. Craig Fortier's new book Unsettling the Commons: social movements within, against, and beyond settler colonialism helps us name and integrate this tension.
Great Lakes Commons co-hosted a Water Summit in Flint this fall as part of a union of water organizations challenging Nestlé on its water bottling and calling an end the tap water crises in Flint, Detroit, and Indigenous nations. GLC hosted a workshop called "The Colonial Enclosure of Water" in the Great Lakes that showed several examples of how to re-centre Indigenous claims, perspectives, and rules for water governance.
A Great Lakes Commons understands water as a source of life, not just as a resource. It also questions popular claims about who owns water and the decision-making processes for how water is used. Let's look at one of the best examples of an anti-commons: bottled water. There are currently hundreds of permits to take freshwater in the Great Lakes bioregion for the sole purpose of packaging it up and selling it for massive corporate profits -- such as 700 million dollars for Nestle in 2014.