Based on a comprehensive literature review and feedback rounds with practitioners we have evolved a framework that centres around the initial process of becoming a commons — communities that share their resources such as energy, a garden, cars, a neighbourhood space or care etc. This early stage – that we call becommoning – is crucial as commons-communities need to take fundamental steps and choices in an often slow-moving, laborious and uncertain process. This primary stage is also vital because it shapes the progress and fate of a resource community, for instance, its (economic) viability, the organisation of the shared resources, the everyday practices, social relationships, and the community’s affiliation to the broader environment.
The framework looks upon the becommoning path from a design perspective thereby dissecting which components the establishment of a resource community entails and what actions a group of people need to go through in order to become a commons. It displays three main aspects shown in the circles -i.e. community building and value articulation; resource-related arrangements; and the consideration of the broader context- of the becommoming process, each consisting several ‘building blocks’. Together they provide an overview of elements that prospective commoners need to design or arrange in order to start off their initiative.
These main aspects do not follow a linear path as they constantly influence each other throughout the entire process as indicated by the in-between arrows. For instance, the values articulated serve as a compass when the building layout, the ownership structure or the governance scheme is designed. On the other hand, the broader (e.g. legal, financial) context should also be taken into account for the design space around the shared resource, whereby communities can capitalize on, navigate between or even affect circumstances for the actual forming of their commons. Also, this entire co-creation process may lead to the concretisation and re-evaluation of the community’s core values.
The framework does not solely aim to provide insights for emergent resource communities but to offer a useful tool for professional mediators / facilitators who can support commoners with an overarching guidance of becommoning. They can help to safeguard coherence between the various phases and building blocks, including the ongoing task of community building and warding off detachment that can arise from frustrations and fatigue in such lengthy, tiresome procedures.
This is a work in progress, and at this moment, we have developed a first iteration of the (Be)Commoning Canvas, which can be downloaded below:
For more information on the (be)commoning process, click below: