About a month ago I was in Boston’s most active community of Jamaica Plain, where I attended a gathering and collaborative presentation featuring UTNE magazine’s illustrious former editor Jay Walljasper. He’s on a mission to build a more sustainable, resilient, and fun world, one neighborhood at a time. And he’s doing it by promoting the idea of claiming, and reclaiming the public commons — everything from public land, buildings, air, water, education, and communications and transportation networks. His new book, All That We Share talks about the kinds of things the world is better off learning to share, rather than to claim private ownership over.
Certainly some things make sense to claim as one’s own. Starting with one’s own body, of course. One individual also can sensibly claim the love they have for others, their relationships with their friends and family, and the work they do as being uniquely their own. It is indeed valuable to the world for people to claim ownership and responsibility of their personal actions and intentions.
Outside of the self, though, the universe is shared space and time. And so it’s sensible to do everything we can to learn how to share this universe with each other, in a way that allows us all to grow, survive, and thrive.
We can start by looking for spaces and places that are being underutilized right now, and get a group of neighbors together to create some new shared resource space that serves a far more diverse range of life in far more rewarding ways. You could pick your own yard, a school yard, an empty barn, a traffic island, sidewalk, abandoned urban lot, car parking space, or even just a fence along an industrial area. Then add whatever resources you can find that you think will improve the area. Reclaim the space for the community for an hour, a day, a season, or event a lifetime!
For inspiration, check out the following amazing projects and groups:
Creative Communities – David Engwicht
City Repair – in Portland, Oregon
Guerilla Gardening – images from around the planet
PARK(ing) Day – turning a car parking space into a human park space!
Baltimore’s Free Store – materialism resource sharing at it’s best!
Enjoy your world, and claim it for us all!