by Terry Sterrenberg
After all these months I finally feel like we are settling in a bit on Staten Island. When people ask me how I like New York I still say that I am “getting used to it” however I must say that I am getting more into the swing of city life. Yesterday Laurie and I went to a movie in Manhattan with some Ganas friends and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then of course there is always the circus, for entertainment and trips outside reality. I’m talking about the presidential races and debates. I watched the presidential debates because, as one Ganasian put it, I am ‘that committed’, and like the rest of the country, I had very mixed feelings. I felt I had stepped into an alternate reality. The fact that Bernie Sanders can be so popular and still be treated as if he is a novelty is a symptom of the primary economic and social conflicts troubling this country. There seems to be an attitude that to care for and to provide for everyone is anti-American and will destroy the world. Does any one else fee that sometimes they are living in a movie created for TV, or some game show where if you pick the right door you become part of the 1%? Or maybe it is more like professional sports. The way the Democratic candidates were introduced at the debate reminded me of the beginning of a telecast of professional wrestling. So in the midst of what seems like a demoralizing fantasy created by Hollywood, I feel very fortunate living in a space with real relationships with real people and with caring approaches to the common good. Since moving into our own room we have even been able to think about actually working on some of the “many” movie ideas we have had. And we have met some amazing people during the last few months who could become working partners on mutual projects. They represent different organizations as well: Fellowship of Intentional Communities, Transition Towns, GEO (Grassroots Economic Organizing), and Commonomics USA. All of these organizations have missions similar to “The Villaging Project.” Out of knowing about these organizations the term “the commons” has become important to me. According to Wikipedia, “The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately.” In our capitalistic society I’m not sure that this concept is even thought to be valid by most Americans. What if ‘the commons’ really did belong to everyone? What if all the earth’s resources and common spaces belonged to everyone? What if there really were common access to common resources? Researching this line of thought brought me to “Commonomics,” the basis of an alternative economy to capitalism and socialism. “Commonomics” rests on three common-sense principles (taken from http://www.commonomicsusa.org):
1. Our collective well-being and quality of life depend on the commons — things we collectively own and share, like roads, parks, water, schools and public services. These are resources accessible to all members of a society, those parts of public life not reducible to private ownership for profit.
2. Diminished prosperity occurs when the commons are privatized. Because the commons is the source of our common wealth, privatization is wealth transfer upwards, furthering economic inequality.
3. Preserving and expanding the commons makes us more secure — both materially and spiritually — and allows us to prosper as individuals, communities, and as a nation in the global community.”
What do you think?