Commons. This is a term that I had not heard before but I realize that I act within accordance to them regularly in various different situations. I have been in living situations where there are common rules and understandings that people follow. When I was in Australia I lived at an organic farm and retreat center called Paradise One where in exchange for housing and food everyone was responsible for working in the garden, cooking, and cleaning. We meet in circles to discuss house rules and determine new common agreements for what worked and what needed improvement among us.
Another example of this is at one of the Acupuncture places that I work at. As an employee we have circles as well where we all sit together and talk about our responsibilities to make it a better experience for the business, us as employees, and our patients.
On a personal level I believe the structure of relationships, particularly romantic are “commons”. I prefer to use the word “agreements”, however it is the same in the sense that two individuals are coming together to maintain something bigger than themselves that is a relationship. Within the relationship each person communicates their needs, weaknesses, etc and particular perimeters are set of behaviors, expectations, goals, etc. that are followed to maintain a healthy relationship. And like the common suggests, these “game rules” can change and shift as things change and time goes on.
I feel living in commons is very natural. As humans we are not separate but are deeply connected to everyone and everything. I feel that governments are actually too large at the moment to understand the needs of everyone they govern and this is why these sub commons are created to be fitted to smaller community needs.
Commons Lab Antwerp (Belgium)
“Modern individuals do not see the Earth as a source of spiritual renewal, but as a stockpile of raw materials to be exploited and consumed.” -Gablik
As humans we are emotional beings. For people to take action about something, they must care and feel it emotionally. This is how art can make a social and environmental difference in the world. By exposing issues, facts, and concerns about our current human condition of consumerism without regards for its damage to the environment through art that is emotive, visceral, and communicative, a greater change can be made by individuals because they are able to connect with this issue through their hearts and souls.
In the article The Ecological Imperative, Gablik gives examples of different artists who use their work to highlight these environmental issues. The photographer David Hanson reveals aerial images of missile and hazardous-waste sites nestled within agricultural landscapes and the wilderness, exposing this unseen truth and fosters people to ask questions about these images and sites.
The artist Othello Anderson paints landscapes havoc by acid rain as a away to bring attention to this environmental issue of devastation. He writes, “Recognizing this crisis, as an artist I can no longer consider making art that is void [of] moral consciousness, art that carries no responsibility, art without spiritual content…”
And Lynne Hull, and artist who creates earth works that provide aid to birds for nesting and collecting water in dry habitats.
I find these artists inspiring as they dedicate their life and their artwork to something beyond themselves and into the realm of exposure and service for the environment. For more people to take action for sustainability people need to feel the reason why and art can help this process move forward.
On another note, I agree that we are at a crucial time in the world to keep the green earth fit for human life. However, I do believe that the Earth is not in danger of losing life (unless we blow her up with nuclear weapons). I believe the Earth will survive, but the human race may not.
Gablik, S. (1992) The Ecological Imperative. Art Journal, 51 (2), p. 49-51