Towards a culture of commons

By Politics Group SOTA

This almanac is filled with examples of how commons and commoning can become a driving force for a more sustainable cultural ecosystem. The creation of this almanac itself is a brilliant example of how commoning functions and where it can lead.

Commoning is based on a practice of sharing resources and collective care to reach a common goal. This can be a piece of land, a space or a concept. Commoning is also a way of reappropriating civic responsibility. Yet as a practice, commoning still lacks a proper legal framework. Besides the competitive market and governmental authorities, this third – often community driven – space needs legal recognition that allows and guarantees self-organisation and autonomy. This requires, as sociologist Pascal Gielen puts it, a politics of trust. Given the growing interest in commoning as a practice of social engagement, it will be one of the biggest political challenges in the upcoming years – both on a local and an (inter)national level – to create this legal framework. For this, cities and communities have to be understood as an interdependent, collaborative social ecosystem that thrives on bottom-up energies. A great example is the Bologna Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of Urban Space, a pivotal moment for local public governance which anchors its role and responsibility within this paradigm shift.

Its origin dates back to 2011, when a group of women from Bologna contacted the city about donating benches to their neighbourhood park, which lacked any place to sit. The women grew frustrated as their generous offer was bounced from one municipal department to another until finally they were told it was impossible. In fact, it was illegal for citizens to contribute improvements to their hometown.

It would take a completely new almanac to write about the growing importance of commons and their role in the transition to new forms of governance and social well being. For now, we invite you to dive into the subject yourself with the help of the following resources:


  • The Wealth of the Commons (David Bollier, Silke Helfrich, 2013) online publication:
  • Peer to Peer: The Commons Manifesto (Michel Bauwens, Vasilis Kostakis, Alex Pazaitis, 2019) download:
  • Commonism – a New Aesthetics of the Real (Nico Dockx & Pascal Gielen, 2018), ISBN 978-94-92095-47-3
  • Commons. Between Dreams and Reality (ed. Maria Francesca De Tullio, 2020) download:
  • Rise of the Common City (edited by Louis Volont, Thijs Lijster, Pascal Gielen, 2022), download:
  • Wat we gemeen hebben (Thijs Lijster, 2022), ISBN 978-94-03121-11-6
  • L’ecologie en communs (Lotte Stoops o.a., 2023), download:
  • Vertrouwen. Bouwen op het cultureel ‘gemeen’. (Pascal Gielen, 2023), ISBN 978-94-93246-21-8