Do not be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.
With these perceptive words, Camilla Widmark opened the third European conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons (IASC) today in Umeå, Sweden. Camilla, from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, is the chairman of the conference organising committee.
This was a perfect introduction to my talk, Campaigning for commons, the collective approach. As campaigners, we must never be afraid to go out on a limb. The Open Spaces Society has experience of that, often as a lone voice.
I explained that a good campaign has four elements: aims, research, communication and lobbying. But the important element for IASC is research because it brings together the academics and practitioners. We have a symbiotic relationship: academics provide the facts and evidence, practitioners use them to achieve beneficial change. For instance, in England and Wales we have employed academics to provide the evidence that walking benefits health and the economy, and thereby put pressure on local authorities, the decision makers, to increase their budgets.
Elinor Ostrom Award
Last year the Open Spaces Society won the Elinor Ostrom Award for practitioners working on commons. Lin, a respected scholar of commons, firmly believed in collective action. I urged participants at the conference to put forward nominations for next year’s award before the end of the month. I am proud to be among the judges.
I hope that IASC will continue to embrace practitioners and do more to forge links between practitioners and academics, so that together we can bring about change for the commons’ and public good.