Blog Posts on Bollier, _Think Like a Commoner_, Chapters 10-11, and Winona LaDuke, “Our Home on Earth”

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14 thoughts on “Blog Posts on Bollier, _Think Like a Commoner_, Chapters 10-11, and Winona LaDuke, “Our Home on Earth”

  1. In the last two chapters David Bollier goes into detail about the job of the State. He criticizes that the State right now has little to do with the commons except for enclosure. The State sees (enclosures + economic growth = power and tax revenue), Bollier says this is a problem and that we must reconceptualize the role of the State. The State is using the commons for its own financial growth, when instead we need the State to change so that is acts as an authority and supports the commons. Bollier also emphasizes that is it important that the State doesn’t become too involved in overseeing the commons, because then that would defeat the purpose of the commons. The idea of the commons is that a community joins together to create norms to regulate resources. With that being said Boellier says the State’s role should be setting minimal ground rules and performance parameters for locals. This will allow the commoners to distribute their creativity and evolve/adapt to their specific community and local issues. Bollier states, “commons are inseparably related to communities and ecosystems.” This statement ties into the theme of our class the Good Society. The commons are an important part of nature, the community, and the ecosystem. In the final chapter, Bollier persuades the audience to begin to make a difference. He says to start with passion where you live, then find a small group of people with the same interest. Small changes in the commons effect the world in a big way, it has a cumulative effect and if many small groups did the same thing our world would see a big change. Bollier also says the urgent tasks for commoners now is to fight enclosures and provide new defenses to protect the commons. At the very end Bollier explains the definition of the word “commons,” he states how there is two parts ‘gifts’ and ‘duties’. I think this is very fitting because the commons is a gift from nature and it becomes a communities duty to oversee its protection and use.

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    • 2 points (second posting of the week). The relationship between the state and the commons will always be a complicated one. You’re including a lot of summary and repetition of points from the book–some more of your own thoughts are welcome! 🙂

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  2. Chapters 10 and 11 clarify and summarize the entire book, but one thing that caught my attention was when Bollier talks about the Brazilian group MST (Landless Worker’s Movement). Bollier uses the group as an example of groups that embodies the commons’ core values. “Participation, cooperation, inclusiveness, fairness, bottom-up innovation, accountability.” It is true that this group envisions to achieve all of these values, but what they really believe in is that some farmers have too much land, and that they should have the unproductive part of it to live and exert agricultural practices. Unfortunately, the way they act is disturbing and wrong. They occupy productive farms and ruin plantations. Because they support and are supported by the most corrupt political party ever, they don’t get punished for their acts of terrorism.
    I believe that Bollier would not have used this group as a good example if he had known more about them.

    Below are some links of the atrocious things this group have done so far.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8jwiAcHsiM – in this video they broke into a research corporation and destroyed the equivalent of 14 years of research.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIHwfzSqxSw – in this video they broke into a private orange plantation and ran over trees with a tractor.

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    • 5 points. I don’t know anything about MST. It’s interesting to see different perspectives. I don’t know how much Bollier actually knows or not, but such acts by such groups are also often seen as disruptions (and destruction) of an oppressive order.

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  3. This week we still focus on commons.In Monday’s class we discuss the one of the most significant concept for commons is to keep balance between private property and public space.whats more,I got more understanding about commons after the example of coffee shop.In my hometown,I lived in a military district.When I was a child,I always noticed many solider trained at field.However,when I grow up I noticed that the manager of this district sell/rent a huge part of the district to hotel and restaurant for money.For us,the feeling it’s exactly like people who lost his chance to manage the park by themselves.Cause our neighbor planted various flowers in one of the field and we always play with each other at that field everyday.Now it become a Superior hotel for travelers.At the same time,more and more rural area in my city had been reconstruct in to plaza,shopping mall and movie theater.Market are becoming more stronger than commons in my city.The concept of commons is not yet attract our county’s attention.The government of our city put too much attention on market economic,hope the introduction of commons can inspire them in the future.

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    • 5 points. What you’re describing has been happening in the United States for a long time–when the market and economic development are the highest priority, commons areas can quickly disappear.

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  4. Winona LaDuke discusses how we need to stop and think before we keep taking in her article, “Our Home on Earth”. She talks about how if we keep on taking from the earth we will be looking at a big problem later on. We have a habit of doing things and thinking they won’t have any consequences, especially in the USA. If we want to change this world for the better we need to start reducing our consumption of resources, reusing old resources, and recycling what we have used. If we all start doing this we can be looking at a brighter, cleaner future. It starts with every single individual to change because we can’t keep waiting and thinking science will fix everything. Our world is in ruin so lets do something about it, and soon.

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    • 5 points. The idea of nature as an “externality,” as I’ve mentioned in class a few times, is really at the core of what you’re saying here. As long as people see natural resources as “free,” they seem to think of them as unlimited. Equal and democratic access to the commons is an essential principle, but that doesn’t mean the commons are free for the taking.

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  5. Winona LaDuke starts her article “Our Home on Earth” by discussing the amounts of land in the US and the rest of the western hemisphere that are still owned by native people. She explains that even though in the US itself there’s around 4% of land owned by native people, there is a lot of land in Canada and other countries in South America that still have a lot of land owned by native people. She is trying to deliver a message that the western hemisphere isn’t really predominantly white. LaDuke mentions the idea of balance in her essay a lot and she believes that balance itself leads to sustainability. When people take more than what they need from the land, that is being selfish, which leads to an imbalance and LaDuke classifies this as a violation of natural law. She briefly mentions the commons and says that in order to maintain the commons, people must take care of the land and manage it well. Near the end of her essay LaDuke talks about Sustainable communities and sustainable development. She actually believes that there is no such thing as sustainable development and the only thing that is actually sustainable is community. We need to restore a way of life that is based on the land. We can do this by focusing on building communities rather than developing things.

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  6. Winona Duke’s “Our Home on Earth” talks a lot about some of the land that still exists in the United States that are owned by the native people of that particular spot. The important part of this essay is that Winona tries to explain that North America is not completely dominated by white folks. She also explains that we need a balance in our lives, and that will lead to a sustainable future. We have a bad habit of not thinking about our actions, and that will hurt us in the long run. Scientists have been saying that we are entering the 6th mass extinction. We need to take care of our Earth, make sure we recycle and not pollute the rest of the Earth. She explains the Commons and that we as the human race needs to do our part in keeping it on the right track. We need to start looking at how keeping the forests around, not creating the next big gadget.

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    • 5 points. I think LaDuke would say that, in fact, white folks do dominate North America–at least in terms of power and wealth. That’s the problem–that a single group controls so much of the commons and often disenfranchises others from it.

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  7. When reading Chapter 10 of Think Like a Commoner, I reached the part about how the Commons can bring about a renewed sense of localism. I had to reflect on my community, Iowa City, and came to the conclusion that in a lot of ways Iowa City is a very localized community with a lively downtown area and that has created a better sense of community than other places. The University and the city are so closely intertwined with so many public places and ways to become involved in the area that the identity is more defined than other cities. I was also reminded of someone who spoke at my graduation ceremony. He was a former graduate from my high school who worked overseas in the Middle East and the line that stuck with me was, “People are going to want you to care for you own communities and divide yourselves from the rest of the world. Don’t let them.” In a way I understood why he would think it would be better to be more globalized and connected with people around the world but reading the Commons and understanding the concepts more I’ve been able to question his statement more and more and believe that it would be better to take care of our own communities and it wouldn’t be so bad to enclose ourselves away from the rest of the world as we try to take care of what is in our proximity before what is happening elsewhere.

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    • 5 points. I think the real issue–and what most of our authors believe and often have said–is that it’s not an either/or situation. Too many people think you can focus only on the local community OR focus on a larger, global scope. I don’t think any of our authors would say it’s a good thing to enclose ourselves away from the rest of the world. The point is that tending to our own places and communities is the most effective way to create a stronger global society for all. Sanders says it well, I think–that home is a groundwork from which to relate to the rest of the world. That’s the idea behind the concentric circle model that we’ve been focusing on in the class–it’s all interrelated, and if we cut out any of the levels (home, neighborhood, community, society, nature), we damage the whole.

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