A brief note on “commoning”

I got taken to task the other day regarding my preference for the jargony-seeming construction “commoning” over the more usual “commons.” (The specific wording: “You say you hate bullshit, but ‘commoning’ seems like just so much bafflegab to me.”)

This brilliant 2010 interview with key thinker/doers Massimo de Angelis and Stavros Stavrides ought to go some distance toward explaining that preference; it’s lost none of its luster with the intervening years, despite everything that’s happened in the world over that period.

In the effort to define a space for living that is neither market nor state, De Angelis and Stavrides make it clear that the act of seizing and occupying it is the easy part. All the glamor and all the grandeur attend that first nervy moment when wirecutters meet chainlink. But precisely who gets saddled with the obligation of continuously remaking that space? Who’s left with the physical work of maintenance, the emotional labor of negotiation? It’s a process, not a reified thing, and that in turn seems to demand the gerund form, with its implication that this is something unfolding in time: commoning.

Yeah? No? Works for me.

3 responses to “A brief note on “commoning””

  1. samkinsley says :

    Definitely. As has been said many times before: space is a verb.

  2. niaveidiot says :

    I was just at a community meeting and we had someone at the dais, someone controlling the floor and I had the door. Mostly I shushed grumblers and keep the aisles clear (we ran out of space for chairs) but I also invited yellers outside to answer their questions personally and quickly. My friend told me I was “holding the space”. I had never heard of that but this seems like the same thing as commoning.

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