The Commons: It Works for All of Us

While interviewing the visionary writer, speaker, storyteller, (and all around nice guy) Jay Walljasper, a fellow of and an editor at last week for our Wisdom Voices Spotlight, I thought of one of my favorite sayings:

“We are all better off, when we are all better off.”

Isn’t that the essence of what drives the commons movement? It’s more than an altruistic vision of society. Or one that gives preference to any group of citizens, no matter how deserving. The power of the commons is that it works for all of us.

That is certainly what the founder and staff members of On the Commons believe as they do the day-to-day work promoting a commons movement strategy center that connects organizations, community leaders and individuals.  We are pleased to feature their work and the individuals who make it happen in our Spotlight series.

The idea of the commons has sustained humanity since time began, and it was central to what founded this nation. Consider the names of three of the original 13 colonies:  the Commonwealths of Massachusetts, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The idea of “the commons” has been overshadowed recently – particularly in the last 30 years.  However, movements today such as Occupy Wall Street have turned our national attention and conversation in a different direction.  Consider our talk today about the 99 percent or the recent national discussions generated by the attention drawn to Mitt Romney and his connections to Bain Capital. The idea of “we’re all in this together” has started to resonate louder and more clearly.

In their book A Nation for All, authors Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley say:

“Building a nation for all requires us to work to advance the common good at all levels of our society.  It requires public policies that put the needs of everyone above the interest of a select few.  It requires a culture that places concern for one another ahead of materialism, greed, and excessive individualism.  It requires an economy measured fundamentally by the status of the poor, not just the size of the stock market or the soaring profits of large corporations.  And it requires that we, as individuals, live our lives in ways that reflect a profound concern for one another.”

We encourage you to take a moment to remember “the commons” and the hundreds of ways it touches your life every day.  Preservation and promotion of “the commons” is as important today as it ever was.  There’s no better way to start that than by finding out more about, or by purchasing a copy of All That We Share by Jay Walljasper or A Nation For All.  Great reading on this topic abounds; take the time to find out more.

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