The revolution in Egypt is spellbinding. Watching the energized crowds of demonstrators link arms in solidarity, articulate simply and consistently their common desire to take back their government and their lives and show solid resolve to persevere is inspiring. The fact that change came in 18 days is incredible. The story is not over, clearly. Yet the illustration of people becoming active in shaping a world they want to live in is clear.
Closer to home, I’m reading about a different revolution happening more quietly but with strong passion never-the-less. It’s called a Commons Revolution. People are recognizing the fragility of things we share together. Clean water, oceans, parks, the Internet, libraries for example. There is a movement emerging to support the types of wealth we collectively own and protect them for the good of everyone.
The Commons Movement is:
a growing social and political movement that believes the commons is a crucial sector of the economy and society and useful prism for talking about resources that should be shared. The commons offers not only an affirmative vision of a more equitable, eco-friendly society: it also serves as a countervailing force to keep excesses of the market and government sectors in check.
I’ve never marched on Washington, been arrested for civil disobedience, demonstrated in the public square, chanted for my rights. Some would say that’s a shame. Perhaps. I have voiced my opinion in many ways, supported causes with phone calls and emails, voted with pen and my dollar. And with the changing economic times, there is more I can do. A great website I’ve recently discovered, yesmagazine, hosts an article called 51 Ways to Spark a Commons Revolution: Things you can do alone, and with others, to share life. Here are a few of my favorite on the list.
- Keep in mind that security and satisfaction are more easily acquired from friends than from money.
- Get out of the house and spend some time on the stoop, the front yard, the street—anywhere you can join the river of life.
- Lobby for more public benches, water fountains, plazas, parks, sidewalks, bike trails, playgrounds, and other crucial commons infrastructure.
- Buy from local, independent businesses when possible. (amiba.net, livingeconomies.org)
- Barter. Trade your skill in baking pies with someone who will fix your computer.
- Oppose cutbacks in public assets like transit, schools, libraries, parks, social services, police and fire, and arts programs.
- Avoid bottled water. Tap water is generally safer. If you have concerns about your water supply, get a filter, then pressure local officials to clean it up.
- Patronize and support your public library.
This revolution won’t change things in 18 days but it could mean my children and grandchildren have a chance to drink free clean water, enjoy frequent outings in the park, take weekly walks to the library with their own child and delight as they select yet another bag of books to read. Just as I’ve done. These should be givens. And perhaps with a little solidarity, they will always be.