Patterns bannerWhat accounts for the persistence and spread of “commoning,” the irrepressible desire of people to collaborate and share to meet everyday needs? How are the more successful projects governed? And why are so many people embracing the commons as a powerful strategy for building a fair, humane and Earth-respecting social order?

In more than fifty original essays, Patterns of Commoning addresses these questions and probes the inner complexities of this timeless social paradigm. The book surveys some of the most notable, inspiring commons around the world, from alternative currencies and open design and manufacturing, to centuries-old community forests and co-learning commons—and dozens of others. Margaret Thatcher once championed neoliberal capitalism with the harsh ultimatum, “There is no alternative!” Patterns of Commoning shows in vivid detail that there are plenty of alternatives! We need only understand the robust power of commoning. Read more about the book.

L-R: Frédéric Sultan, Anne Salmond, Tristan Copley-Smith, Soma KP and Monica Vasile

L-R: Frédéric Sultan, Anne Salmond, Tristan Copley-Smith, Soma KP and Monica Vasile

Praise for Patterns of Commoning

“This enlightening volume opens up vistas of new potentials and possibilities for new cooperative organizations. Many are now emerging in the shareconomy such as couch surfing, tool sharing, barter clubs, crowdfunding and local cooperatives and currencies. Indeed, cooperative enterprises now employ more people on our planet than all the private for-profit companies combined, as revealed in the UN Year of the Cooperatives 2012.”

-– Hazel Henderson of Ethical Markets on the SeekingAlpha website.


About the book

The commons is an ancient social form that has survived for centuries, constantly renewing itself. It can be seen in indigenous agriculture and community forests, Bolivian water committees and high-tech FabLabs, theater commons and the Burning Man festival. Commoners are taking charge of their lives through networks that are designing open-source farm equipment… alternative currencies that are reviving troubled neighborhoods in Kenya… and collaborative maps that are helping build a new economy.

In Patterns of Commoning, more than sixty frontline activists, academics and project leaders from twenty countries explain how commoning is empowering people to challenge the deep pathologies of contemporary capitalism and invent powerful, participatory alternatives. A special series of essays explores the inner dynamics of commoning—its ethics, social practices and worldview—to explain why the building of new worlds starts from within.

The Heinrich Böll Foundation has been a determined champion of the commons and supporter of this book. Patterns of Commoning is itself the product of commoning—not just by the many contributors, but by the more than thirty commons-friendly organizations and individuals who pre-ordered the book through a “limited crowdfunding” campaign. Their participation helped to finance its production at a much lower price than similarly produced books.

This crowdfunding has also enabled Patterns of Commoning to be distributed and shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This means that you are free to copy and redistribute the contents of this book in any medium or format, and you may remix, transform and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially. However, you must give appropriate credit if you copy and share the book, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes are made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor—the editors and the Heinrich Böll Foundation—endorses you or your use. If you remix, transform or build upon the contents of this book, you must distribute your contributions under the same license used here.

Patterns of Commoning follows on the heels of a 2012 anthology of essays, The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State (2012), which offered a panorama of perspectives on commons, the enclosures that threaten many of them, and the productive forces that they can unleash. A third anthology is planned for 2017.

Visit the Patterns of Commoning Website to find out more