I found the text very interesting. I lived in Belgium for a while and so I read the text in the original dutch and it was interesting to read about the Commons and the general idea of the concept along side my experience and memories of Belgian culture and social structure.
I have seen similar ideas appearing and gaining traction for example with the self sustainable communities, permaculture groups and even in the democratic schools. In Brazil, at least, we see these examples in many places but I believe its a tendency all around the world, as we have the wwoof.net site and other initiatives.
The democratic schools are just like this, they build a structure of rules together with parents, teachers and students. Any problem, idea or suggestion are discussed in assembly. Some of these schools apply the "Democratic" part literally and reproduce outside society. The students elect a mayor or a president and their representatives in the school. The children take responsibility and deal with planning, conflicts and different ways to make things work in a better way. But others are more flexible. They have the assembly structure and the collective approach to problem solving but not necessarily the formal roles.
I believe that the marjory of commons have arisen today because they are looking for a new way to build a different world. One that has in it more equality and is a fairer society, using things like crowndfounding to organize themselves. But also it got me thinking about a different example of the commons from history, one which today is partly sustained buy the government because of past injustices. Goiás (the state in Brazil where I live) is home to the biggest Quilombo** community in the country. They fought for their freedom and hid themselves in places of difficult access, such as in the mountains to escape the brutality of slavery. These communities where a kind of common and today still work in similar ways, although now they have support from the government (this is always tenuous, but now even more so due to one of the leading presidential candidates promising that if he wins he will strip away their rights to the land they occupy and their self determination). There, they elect their own community representatives, including a president, and decide collectively how resources, infrastructure and their rights will be manage. They have some jurisdiction over their own territory with some finical and infrastructure support from the federal government.
The basis for these communities and the more recent commons phenomenon is that they are trying to build a new world where people respect each other more and create new rules together to live by. Its funny, but I went to a meeting this week around the same time I started to read this text and I realised that it was like a illustration of what the director of the school was trying to say. She started a school based on "natural learning", a method that was made famous by a school in Ecuador. Basically the facilitator (there are no teachers) is not aloud to interfere in anything or to propose activities to the children, unless the children propose it themselves or ask directly about something. The director, however, is trying to build something beyond the school and to create a kind of "life style" based on creating collectively and on exchange. For example labor and knowhow can be exchanged for a place to stay and meals. But in my opinion this method has limites. We still live in a capitalist society and you will need money at some point to buy necessities or even health care and so on.
I think the ideas o the commons is a beautiful initiative and I want to live in a world where it is possible to collectively create our own rules and have some self determination. I think there are still many obstacles to achieve this however and we need to overcome these in order to create it.
** The Quilombos are communities composed of run away slaves who fled from the plantations and mines during the colonial period in Brazil. The Quilombos exited ever since the first African slaves were brought here but they exploded in number between the 18th and 19th centuries. Many communities where organised in similar ways to the traditional methods in Africa.
There was a division of tasks and everyone worked. A leader usually commanded the Quilombo. They lived mainly from subsistence agriculture and fishing. They could practise their cultural and religious traditions freely this way and much of these traditions and rituals survive to this day because of their resistance.
The recycled paper experience was a little laborious with many challenges. The first obstacles was the collection of the material including the paper to recycle and the equipment needed to do the process.
A week ago, I visited the bars, restaurants and stores around my work explaining the project and asking them to collect paper for me but as it is peek vacation season here they all pretty much where too busy to help.
At the same time I visited the local seamstress looking for fabric to use as a sieve. When I explained the project she told me she had many magazines from the 70's that she was throwing away. So with this visit I was able to acquire two elements of what I needed.
I had already made recycled paper when I was a kid and more recently I was experimenting with it in relation to zero waste. But when I moved I had to place some of my things in storage and didn't have those materials with me. I wanted to solve this in a way where I did not need to buy anything, making or reusing the materials I needed.
My first idea was to use a workman's sieve, which is used in here on construction sites to sift the rocks from sand or to sort out beans or coffee on the plantations.
I lost a couple of days thinking how I would do it. Overlapping the screen over itself or with another material. A possible solution was to use the fabric that I got from the seamstress. She had explained to me that it was generally used locally to strain milk to make dairy products or corn to make cornflower. I sewed it onto the workman's sieve and it looked like it was going to work until I realised it was way to big for the plastic basin I was using.
With time running out and unable to find another container big enough I decided that I would have to go to the market and see if I could find something smaller. I found a kind of pan sieve that came in different sizes and was flat which meant they could fit neatly into each other.
I cut up the old needlework magazines and used a hand mixer to mix them up. I don't have a blender but the mixer worked (although the outcome wasn't quite what I expected). The final paper had big pieces and it was a little bulky, but I did my best. I also decide to use saffron to give a different coloration, more interesting than dirty grey, and also was the easiest pigment I had to hand.
We are right in the middle of winter vacation in Brazil and I live in a town that is very dependent on tourism. Everybody is working around the clock right now during high season it's hard to get people to participate in workshops and things like this at the moment. But during the afternoons my neighbour babysits in the house next door. We share a garden so as I was preparing to make the paper one of the girls came over to have a look. She was very keen to help and got stuck in with the mission, which means that the results you are seeing was produced by four hands, mine and those of Luana, 6 years old.
We did the first test and saw that it worked so we started to add different elements that we found in our garden to the recycled paper. We used littler purple flowers, pieces fo the cotton tree and dry leaves.