thinking into a people centered economy
The following is a contribution to the commons. The hope is through supporting the work of change through the power of our voices, we have the potential to enact radical, productive and positive outcomes.
This is a collection of ideas, a partial vision of some of the constructs that can be developed collaboratively. Your thoughts and contributions are appreciated. As always, it’s a work in progress. Watch the puns, they’re everywhere. ;)
This work is crafted on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Nations and is in service to the principles of indigeneity and the development of a healthy, inclusive commons.
The intention behind this work is to present a collection of ideas that can stimulate discussion, collaboration, and action. The hope is through an intelligent exploration and activation of our ideas, we can engage citizens in designing tools, mechanisms, agreements, and activities that foster a vibrant commons and support the development of a people centered economy.
Let’s make media together! Conversations with other changemakers is a powerful way to collaborate, to bring our gifts and ideas together. The goal is to talk about our challenges, our solutions and include our best thinking in a growing and engaging conversation. We need to have deep dialogue about the challenges we face, and connect with others who have contributions to the conversation.
You are invited to a new kind of conversation — transparent, for the record, and, most importantly, where we decide together if, how and when we want to share our conversation with others. The mission is to explore our thoughts and ideas, make a record of that expression, and take the opportunity to reflect on our thoughts. What are we saying? What themes do we all feel inspired to contribute towards?
Our current media approach is to seek expertise from individuals; this approach is to bring people with questions and expertise together to explore our options, as a live, engaging expression that is open for collaboration.
We have an incredible opportunity to create our own context, innovate, and activate our potential. The important part is that we can reflect on how we think together, what we discover and are inspired by, so we can refine our thoughts, and if useful, appropriate and agreeable to us, share it more broadly. There is definitely a rich story to tell.
This offer is an invitation. We need to build a narrative that includes our diversity, is grounded in authentic expression, and brings attention to the critical path we need to set ourselves on to get it together.
The goal is to identify actions we can take to help us best transition our systems. The hope is that we are able to collaborate at the scale required to do so.
Huh? what might that look like?
If you are viewing this on Medium.com, feel free to share your thoughts and comments. Medium is designed with collaboration in mind, and one of the really cool things is that you can comment on any part of an article, which means that the conversations are more natively in context. It’s especially useful for the type of ‘dreaming into potential’ type of writing I’m motivated to produce, and helps to frame the continuing conversation in a good way.
I’m inspired by the work of Caroline Smalley of the Citizens Media. Caroline has devoted nearly a decade to building solutions to key challenges we face, and is hard at work bringing people together to talk about solutions, and create them collaboratively. She is convinced, as am I, of the importance of collaboration in creating resilient systems change.
There are powerful pockets of changemakers, like the folks from the Next Edge, who are gathered in person for the first time in Montreal June 2015 to think together, help each other move projects along, and take action towards a common future.
My goal is to support Caroline’s, Next Edge thinkers, and other inspired work by having ‘for the record’ conversations with thought leaders and citizens, to help produce content that can help to foster conversation, collaboration, and action.
Marshall Ganz: a primer on community organizing
We need to get organized. Marshall Ganz, a leader in community organizing, talks about strategic capacity — the task of turning the resources that we have into the power that we need to get the change that we want. We stand on the shoulders of greats; many of us are working on fantastic projects that can help us; and we are in a critical moment of history.
We need to build our strategic capacity to meet the challenges we face, and to do that, we need to help each other. We need to have spaces to offer our contributions, let others know what we need, and work on building strategies that can build our collective capacity.
Helping each other creates hope — and makes us realize that we are not alone, that many of us are concerned, and there are specific things we can do about it.
You may be thinking that you know of people in your community that are speaking of similar things, developing initiatives that take on facets of a similar problem, or that the underlying values feel the same.
Yes! Certainly there is a demonstrated need for change. Like the hundredth monkey theory, many of us are on a similar path of service, and more and more people are connecting and recognizing our ideas and visions are iterations on a theme.
Whether it’s a common response to the challenges we face, our interconnectivity at the level of culture, community, and family, or a collective moment of self awareness as a species, it’s undeniable that something powerful and profound is happening.
It’s perhaps a mistake to make any assumptions about what this collective idea generation ‘means’ — rather it’s a more helpful approach to be curious and follow a natural line of inquiry. Meaning can emerge from a tapestry of thought and opinion, and can help us to break down the assumptions that we hold based on our own perspective and set of beliefs.
The rise of agency in the Commons
Agency is the ability to act; the ability to make things happen in the world.
Our personal agency is powerful, important and a privilege; it is the way we live the freedoms that have been hard won by our ancestors. For our freedom to be truly meaningful, we need to use it. At the base of it, agency comes down to the ability for the average person to participate, to have an impact, and be a part of the wider story that is being told through our culture and living systems.
We’ve been on a mission to boil things down to make it easier for people to understand what is going on. This mission limits debate, and doesn’t dig deep enough into what gives rise to our challenges or show what is actually going on on the ground. We need to have broad and inclusive conversations that help unpack our challenges, and take us on a journey of inquiry.
The economy: a core inquiry
For many people, participating meaningfully with the economy is simply out of reach. It is a struggle, all over the world, for a multitude of reasons. Let’s boil that down a little bit.
The economy is a human-created construct, and yet it is ‘governed’ by non-human entities. Yet of course it is not governed, really — there is a mishmash of drivers: international agreements and treaties, governments weakened by political and economic realities, and industry-led lobbying for corporate economic benefit.
Let’s face it, it’s a bit of a mess. Most of us don’t understand how our economy works, and yet most of the decisions we make are as a result of ‘economic realities’. What are these realities, and can we make sense of them?
I would say that the way the corporation has evolved is one of the most dangerous developments of our time — and that we need to speak frankly about the challenges that the corporate model poses for our future.
Whether or not that is true, it is empowering to ask questions, speak our truth without censure, and unpack the key constructs in our society that cause the most harm.
Peer to peer systems, collaborative development and a clear focus towards building for the common good can help us to chart a critical path towards a sustainable and thriving future.
If we can design, build and integrate a citizen-led, human centered economic system, we the people can contribute towards building systems that are well thought out and integrated into our communities.
The brass tacks
Through taking action, by bringing perspectives and voices together to explore the challenges that we face, we can uncover the potential that is right under our noses. We have innovative solutions; we have the moral imperative, we have the personal will as evidenced by the passion and drive of millions of changemakers and community members all over the planet.
We need to be able to see this change, to witness it, and reflect upon it. We need to think about it, together, and we need to talk about it. And then we need to articulate our versions of change and connect with others in ways that can be mutually beneficial — so we can move the story forward.
It’s our ball game
We are at a choice point. Either we stand up together and do the work we know needs to happen — or there will be continued consequences to inaction. Those of us in positions of privilege must take the initiative to figure it out — together, as an open process of engagement. Everyone has a part to play.
We have an amazing story. We have an incredible ocean of wisdom available to us from communities, cultures and citizens all over the world. This collection of truth and collective power is fascinating. Our world is amazing, overwhelming and connected like it has never been connected before. We are evolving.
What we believe, what we work towards, how we take action and how we understand we have influence are all part of how we conceive of telling our stories. Can we look unabashadly into our future and build what we need to to ensure a fair, just, and thriving society?
Our task can seem overwhelming or perhaps naive, but millions of us are working on amazing and inspiring parts of an ecosystem of positive change. The hope is that we can turn in a common direction, ask important questions, and leverage our projects and best thinking into a tapestry of human solutions.
Steps to empowerment
A series of collective challenges can help us to build our resilience in learning how to collaborate.
The following ideas are offered as options for proactive activities:
- propose collaboration and sharing agreements to innovate on copyright and intellectual property
- ask for help from indigenous voices to inform, take leadership and mentor participants in designing systems that are in alignment with human centered trade protocols, teachings and principles
- open collaboration: partner in content generation and crowdfunding projects utilizing citizen owned media assets for mutual benefit in leveraging community voice and thought leader contributions
- explore the valuation of our contributions to the conversation — creating multifunding approaches to supporting the democratic engagement of the voice
- produce compelling media to foster hopeful narratives through series’ of user generated content that tell the stories of our times. focus: courage, respect and potential
- explore our economic constructs with an eye to designing empowering international cooperative financial/resource/asset institutions that can support a people centered economy
- design and develop business tools so every person has the ability to interact with the economy as a corporation as well as a natural person as a baseline right
- global challenge: $10 to every person on the planet — exploring the design problems of the digital wallet in an effort to move resources to where it is needed most
Collaboration and sharing agreements
At the heart of this offering is a starting point to develop, innovate and adopt plain language collaboration and sharing agreements to provide a framework for honouring intellectual property contributions from citizens.
What inspires this piece of the work is to find ways to create value for people to share their work and their ideas in ways that recognize the value of the voice and of collaborating together.
These are ‘opt in’ agreements for people who see the value in collaborating together, and in sharing their ideas in a transparent, engaging, and open way.
Here’s the basic proposed tenets:
- I own representations of my voice, image and expression;
- I choose to share them with specific others or the commons, as I choose;
- I choose to collaborate with others so we can share, create value, and distribute content that is representative of our perspectives;
- and I will make transparent the cost and effort that are associated with creating media that represents me, so the method, protocols and processes are understood and replicable.
The intention is give citizens the power to share their perspective, while retaining the rights to their voice, in an effort to foster and support much needed conversations about the challenges we face.
The goal is to explore an understanding of our context in relation to each other and the times we live in, while respectfully acknowledging and rewarding the contributions of citizens in aid of that understanding. Want to know more of the thinking behind it? I’d love some feedback on this piece.
About the author
I’m a citizen. I care about my community, my country, the planet we live on and the universe we live in. I think we are intelligent enough, and care enough about our collective situation to take action. I’m passionate about personal agency, democracy, using our smarts to build cool things, and designing the constructs of a people centered economy.
I’m motivated by the challenges we face, personally and collectively. I’m inspired by how many people are working on solutions to help us transition to fair, just and responsible ways of interacting with our world. My mission is to explore and promote the voices and ideas of our times so we can find ways to collaborate and support each other in our collective efforts.
Collaborators and contributors: Tammy Lea Meyer, Rebecca Criswell, Caroline Smalley