The raison d’etre of the Commons Society Foundation is to support the common good through restoring the practice of sharing surplus by means of mutual aid networks based on commons principles. This will be accomplished through the establishment of local and regional commons economy programmes, alongside the mainstream economy, thereby adding to the pool of resources available for philanthropic purposes and creating stronger associational networks that people can rely on in times of austerity.
The concept of ‘Commons’ is an equitable, sustainable and versatile perspective of economy, self-governance and resource management. Its positive and extensive implications for the wellbeing and flourishing of individuals, families, communities, businesses, civil society and the natural environment have been overlooked for some time, but currently are in the process of being rediscovered by thought leaders, civil society organisations and communities alike at a time of deep concern that existing measures of prosperity and models of wealth creation, and governance are functioning in a less than optimal and even destabilising way for society with resulting worrying implications for legitimacy and welfare
The Commons Society Foundation is being established to extend and disseminate understanding of the Commons to enable the wider appreciation and application of this perspective in practice for public benefit. And in particular to facilitate:
· the implementation of new socially impactful and generative mutual aid networks for the financing and implementation of shared value creation – including the protection of existing value held in common,
· and the establishment of new forms and structures for the equitable governance and distribution of common’s surplus for philanthropic benefit to individuals, families, employees, communities, civil society organisations and the environment.
In short we will carry out a variety of educational, research, capacity building and facilitation activities that currently are not the responsibility of either the private or public sectors by establishing commons economy programmes.
These will include disseminating information that is otherwise not easily available as well as social learning and capacity building programmes that have the potential to result in the establishment of multi-organisational mutual aid networks. Also, by acting as a facilitating conduit for the collaboration of different parties, the Foundation will link together these mutual aid networks with different types of economic, financial, social enterprise and civil society organisations in such a way that they can not only be more effective through collaboration, but to a degree that significantly impacts quality of life for a wide range of people whose needs are not at present addressed by means of existing economic, social arrangements within the market or through state welfare or indeed by existing philanthropic provisions.
We will develop a series of commons based economy programmes in different locations where we perceive there to be a need and a potential for long-term benefit. We will recruit experts in the emerging field of commons economy and professionals in a variety of relevant fields of expertise to inform the requisite planning, execution and capacity building for new projects to deliver socially impactful outcomes. We will combine this catalysation with cross-sector collaborations, innovation and scaling-up methods. A necessary part of this will be community engagement and programmes for social learning. The preparation of these projects will require detailed practical rather than academic research into local contexts (though we may create partnerships with appropriate academic bodies) and the specific skills required for implementation depending upon the locality and sector involved. A necessary part of this process will at some point involve the transfer of private assets into particular versions of community benefit ownership structures which will require the appointment of appropriate other professionals for example from the legal sector. All of these activities will be carried out under the supervision of a skilled advisory board who will appoint the commons economy programmes development manager/s.
Amongst other benefits, these commons based economy programmes will result in:
· new sources of financial support for community capacity building, training and apprenticeships, and other social and cultural activities that could be considered as supporting individual, community and environmental wellbeing
· more purposeful work
· more security of employment
· increased local social cohesion and local economic resilience
· local environmental conservation programmes, and
· more monies for philanthropic purposes such as health, education and training than is currently available in any of the sectors or locations that our commons economy programmes will operate in