As scholars and practitioners in education, we can help others to recognize how
learning to participate in the local cultural commons––ranging from the growing and
sharing of food, healing practices, narratives and ceremonies, creative arts, craft
knowledge and skills, games, language, patterns of mutual support, civil liberties,
knowledge of local ecosystems––can overcome practices of over-consumption, poverty
and the hopelessness that results from current economic and technological developments.
Cultivating the commons in our university communities helps to halt environmental
degradation and connects us to nature and to ways of living in harmony with it. It fosters
ways of knowing and being that have sustained people for thousands of years, well before
the dawn of the industrial revolution.
Clearly, we are obligated to teach about the cultural and natural commons, if we
are all to survive and resist the pervasive market forces that undermine the
intergenerational traditions of community self-sufficiency and local democracy. Our task,
as university scholars, is to encourage others to find the cultural commons that exist in
every community and to identify the mentors and systems of mutual support that exist
therein. The commons will help make us aware of the ethnic differences among the
cultural commons as we acquire the competencies necessary for deciding what needs to
be conserved and what needs to be changed in both the local commons and the
technological/industrial system of production.
Certainly, the spread of poverty attributed to recent economic and technological
changes across the globe will have the greatest impact on the already poor and
marginalized. This means that university programs can no longer remain silent about the
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