nature of the world’s diverse cultural commons and the powerful ways that the commons
can contribute to the viability of the environment, democracy, and human rights of
current and future generations.
As educators, this framework pushed us all to think beyond simple solutions of
conservation. We identified unsustainable cultural practices but we also illuminate the
practices that need to be conserved and intergenerationally renewed through education.
This work is much more than a romantic documentation of the folk traditions of different
cultures. Instead, we gathered evidence of the rich and varied manifestations of the
cultural commons as these are embodied in our contemporary everyday lives.
The cultural commons are even more important today as economic globalization
is forcing more and more people into poverty. What remains of the ethnically diverse
cultural commons and the intergenerational sharing of skills, knowledge, and mutual
support systems are more educationally important than ever. This knowledge or ways of
being in communities and in the world can help struggling people everywhere to engage
in community-centered lifestyles that encourage personal talents, mentoring relationships,
local decision making, and awareness of the ways that market and technological forces
undermine cultural and social life. In short, fostering the cultural commons is a viable
alternative to a consumer-dependent lifestyle that is destroying our environment and
depleting our natural resources. The cultural commons will build strong communities and
support the preservation of the world’s necessary biodiversity and fledging ecosystems.
The wisdom of local knowledge passed on through generations tends to embrace
practices that sustain relationships between people and their environment. Relationships
within the cultural commons advance concrete understandings of ecological wisdom
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