Building Community Common Good
Commons: refers to the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth.
Common Good Fund: Consists of a whole pile of assets all over Scotland held in Public ownership worth tens of millions of pounds in different places.
The “Community Common Good” is about helping to build the commons. It can also be called the Social Common Good. It is about people, groups, organisations who do things, or donate to the good of the community. Not just things that cost money but other things that can be measured by values other than financial cost.
“In its most basic form, common good has its origins in the early Middle Ages, when the ferm toun – a small settlement of interconnected families living in close proximity for mutual protection and support – took a collectivist approach to certain aspects of the farming operation.”
Andrew C Ferguson
The Common Good Awareness Project, for instance works to create awareness of these assets that are part of Scotland’s Common Good Fund. We work to help identify, document and restore these valuable community assets and to create templates of how they could be used in and by the community. Our farmhouse project in Govan is one such idea.
As well as protecting what we have and the work needed to create awareness of these assets, we also need to expand the possibilities that will keep the commons growing. The Community Common Good is part of that idea.
Here is how it works:
Most of the work we do when we have finished ends up in filling cabinets, or is forgotten about. There is no reason that the work and the effort to produce it can’t become part of the community commons. The CGAP doesn’t want to create more work for people but rather use the work that has already been done. A work plan for a project; a lease designed for small group letting premises, a project that worked one area that you think could work in another. Groups all over the place are re-invent the wheel, continuously going over the same ground. If we share the knowledge of what we have done or are working on we could use the time saved to open new avenues of development.
Much of the volunteering work we do can be inculcated by organisations, government initiatives and others and used for commercial purposes. If our work and efforts are carried out for the good of all, it should be recognised as such. – as work towards the commons and the common good. Part of the work of the CGAP will be to create a database and to start to recognise and archive this valuable work as well as our Common Good assets.
The Commons needs to be built on trust so it is important that it is inclusive, open to scrutiny and independent. The commons should also aim to serve those with least in the community and who are in need of these resources most.