Replay Session #4 Building our Knowledge Commons

On January 27th 30 people connected with community-led initiatives – researchers, activists, practitioners and those who were simply curious – joined the fourth Communities for Future Session focussed on Building a Knowledge Commons.

Read a report of the evening by ECOLISE Research Assistant,  Nara Petrovič, and watch the replay video below

“Nothing is as practical as a good theory.” – Lewin’s Maxim

The Communities for Future (CfF) Knowledge Commons grounds learning in a number of burning questions: Are contemporary western lifestyles the best we can do for us and the planet? Does sustaining existing ways of life justify the collateral damage: biodiversity loss, social and cultural degradation, increasing pollution and climate change? To which crises must we attend, and by what means? How can we marry modern technology with ageless wisdom for our common good?

Scientific Knowledge

It’s hard to answer those questions unequivocally in times of increasing polarisation and concentration of capital. Even scientific knowledge becomes ideologically loaded and charged with political and economic hegemony. Community-Led Initiatives react to uncertainty by self-organising and increasing their self-reliance within networks and movements, envisioning a common global future by strengthening resilience at local and regional levels.

CfF aims to serve all such community-led action across Europe, including by co-creating and sharing knowledge in ways that fit both the needs of our times and values of caring, cooperation and solidarity. As such, one of our pillars is the CfF knowledge commons, curated by the CfF Learn team. We believe as management thinker, W. Edwards Derning, said: “It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.” 

Knowledge is relative and intangible, yes, but so is ignorance. As ignorance deepens our global perils, we need to counter it with sound knowledge that makes explicit its sources, aims and guiding values. To do this, the CfF Learn team curates a knowledge commons for community-led action on sustainability and climate change. The knowledge commons aims to keep knowledge by, for and about community-led initiatives in one place, interconnected via open source mechanisms with what others have learnt to create a comprehensive resource for researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, teachers, students and others.

A library is not enough

“Yes, we need such a resource!” was one of the conclusions of the CfF webinar on knowledge commons, held on 27 January. It’s not enough to have a library, it needs to translate ideas into different terminologies, so various audiences can follow them and apply them in practice, suggested a few participants. This issue extends to language itself; some writers would be more comfortable to write in their own languages, not in English. Knowledge needs to support practice, concluded researchers from the EU-funded COMETS project, with regard both to technology and to regulation.

One participant said that she feels overwhelmed at the number of channels sharing knowledge. She suggested it would be good to have them connected to a central knowledge hub and to make this hub user friendly. Frequent coaching would be necessary for administrators and writers to become more confident and self-sufficient in curating their area of knowledge. It seems appropriate to work in teams, not alone, as this resource is about community.

Next Knowledge Commons Session

This session was the first step in an ongoing process of establishing an active curation community for the CfF Knowledge Commons. We’ve explored issues around appropriate contents for the Knowledge Commons, along with its shape and application. The next meeting will take place on 10th February from 1530-1700 CET, delving deeper into the CfF Learn infrastructure and exploring the social principles that can guide its management. It’s open to everyone who is interested, whether or not you attended the first session. Please register here if you wish to attend.

We’re aware that the CfF knowledge resources will support practice once they reach a critical mass, and that to reach this point we will need hundreds of contributors and co-curators. If we’ve kindled your curiosity and interest in taking part, please contact us at

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