Resource Guide for the Commons


Institute for Local Self Reliance works with citizen groups, governments, and businesses on environmentally sound economic development strategies. Their programs include the New Rules Project, “designing rules as if community mattered;” the Carbohydrate Economy Clearinghouse, “growing the next economy;” Waste to Wealth, on reducing, reusing, recycling and scrap-based manufacturing; Energy Policy; and Their publication, New Rules, is a must-read for those in local government; their Home Town Advantage Bulletin is a free e-bulletin on land use and other tools you can use to protect the character and vitality of your hometown, support local businesses, and buck the “big box” retail trend.

2425 18th St., NW
Washington, DC 20009

New America Foundation injects a fresh approach into an increasingly polarized political scene. Its program on public assets explores how charging fair market value for the use of public assets could yield hundreds of billions of dollars in new public revenue, which could be used to reduce taxes, fund public investments, or promote universal capital ownership through citizen-based asset-building accounts. Broadcast spectrum leases could be auctioned off periodically, with revenue going to fund public interest media or to provide public financing for political campaigns. The internet public spaces could continue to provide a venue for discourse and free speech. Individual asset-building accounts could allow the poorest 40 percent to build assets for education, home buying, or opening a business.

1630 Connecticut Avenue, NW
7th Floor, Washington, DC 20009

Redefining Progress develops policies and tools that reorient the economy to value people and nature first. Programs address accurate pricing (including costs often externalized), climate change, common assets, and sustainability.

904 Franklin St., 6th floor
Oakland, CA 94612

Tomales Bay Institute works to establish the idea of the commons in American public life and debate. It is dedicated to celebrating, protecting, and, where suitable, capturing the economic value of the commons for those who inhabit it.

PO Box 427, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, 415/663-8560, email:[email protected]

The Trust for Public Land works with landowners, government agencies, and community groups to create urban parks, gardens, greenways, and riverways; build livable communities by setting aside open space in the path of growth; conserve land for watershed protection, scenic beauty, and close-to-home recreation; safeguard the character of communities by preserving historic landmarks and landscapes. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.2 million acres in 45 states. (See story on the Trust's critical role in saving dozens of New York City's community gardens.)

116 New Montgomery, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

Americans for Equitable ClimateSolutions seeks reductions in US greenhouse gas emissions through market-based, least-cost, equitable policies, such as the Sky Trust (see article "Sky Trust").

1828 L St., NW Suite 1000 Washington, DC 20036

The New Commons, an initiative of the Whidbey Institute, convenes conferences and retreats, inviting professionals across sectors to new forms of leadership rooted in interdependence with one another and the natural systems of the planet.

PO Box 57, Clinton, WA 98236

E.F. Schumacher Society is a clearinghouse on holding land in common through community land trusts.

140 Jug End Rd., Great Barrington, MA 01230 413/528-1737
e-mail: [email protected] web:

The Berkman Center for Internet & Societyinvestigates the boundaries in cyberspace between open and closed systems of code, commerce, governance, education, and the relationship of law to each.

Managing the Commons
by John A. Baden & Douglas S. Noonan, Indiana University Press, 1998
Essays on Garrett Hardin's classic essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons.”Hardin's essay, reprinted in Managing the Commons, develops the thesis that it is to an individual's advantage to exploit a common resource as thoroughly as possible, and that the implementation of this strategy by many individuals leads to exhaustion of the resource. The essays explore the implications of this thesis and suggest some amendments.

Lawrence Lessig is one of the most thoughtful and articulate defenders of the internet commons. See an eye-opening sampling of his writings and speeches at

Who Owns the Sky?: Our Common Assets and the Future of Capitalism
by Peter Barnes, Island Press, June 2001
This book discusses the concept of the Sky Trust (see article) and applies this commons approach in other commons, including quiet and biodiversity.

Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action
by Elinor Ostrom, Cambridge University Press, 1991
A classic by one of the best-known thinkers on communities and commons.

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