The Global Commons
What Is the Commons?
The commons, in its totality, is the bounteous inheritance of resources that makes life possible. It includes diverse physical, biological, social, intellectual, and cultural dimensions, both tangible and intangible (Nonini, 2007). For simplicity sake, one can think of the commons in terms of both ‘level’ and ‘type’. Level connotes the scope of impact or activity. For instance, there are commons on the local, regional, and global levels. Types include the domains of matter (physiosphere), life (biosphere), and mind (noösphere). Examples are noted in the figure below.
These examples reflect assets that are collectively shared and that must be responsibly stewarded on behalf of succeeding generations. Much of what adds texture and vitality to life is, in fact, participation in one form or another of the commons.
At first glance these many forms of the commons may appear to be unrelated. A closer looks reveals that there are essential inter-dependencies among the various dimensions. Most importantly, the entire manifestation of the commons, in its many forms, is but an expression of the inherent unity in which all of life inheres. Unfortunately, in contemporary society, the implications of this profundity have been forgotten.