Saturday, December 04, 2010

Sparking a "commons" revolution

Like you, I'm often asked whether I’ve read such-and-such column or article. And, of course, books are frequently recommended.

But magazines come up less frequently. When one is recommended to me, it is usually “Yes!” and, less frequently, “The Sun."

Both are ad-free, which speaks to their editorial independence and to why they have a progressive following.

I don’t subscribe to “Yes!” but I’m certainly aware of it. When it gets mentioned in conversation, I feel slightly guilty and out of the loop. To make amends I visit its web site and vow to buy a news stand copy.

(Actually, after today's visit, I was inspired to subscribe.)

This morning, just before I set out to do our “Usual Suspects” one-hour-a-month neighborhood clean-up, I visited the “Yes!” site. The first thing to catch my eye was a great list, “51 ways to spark a commons revolution.”

I’ve been trying to spark a “commons revolution” ever since I moved to my neighborhood nearly 25 years ago.

My major spark, among lesser ones, has been to start a community newspaper. The first was with an ink-and-paper publication that was (and is) called “The Southwest Community Connection.”

After I sold it, I started the on-line Hillsdale News.

Curiously, starting a community newspaper wasn’t on the 51 “sparks” list although #33 urged writing letters to the editor and posting on local web sites.

It’s worth noting that your community needs an editor before you can write a “letter to the editor.”

So add #52 to the list. “Start a community newspaper — on line and/or off.”

As I headed out the door for the clean up, I was heartened to know that I was also setting off a couple of other "sparks" in the revolution. Namely:

#12. “Treat commons spaces as if you own them (which, actually, you do). Keep an eye on the place. Tidy things up. Report problems or repair things yourself. Initiate improvement campaigns”


#35. "Pick up litter that is not yours."

You can see entire Yes! list of 51 ways to spark a revolution in your community HERE.

It's worth the visit, a first stop on the way to getting to Yes!

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