Members of a working group exploring the creation of a Puget Sound Civic Communication Commons met over the course of three days at Seattle Center’s Center House, Sept. 23-25. The CCC is one of 10 initiatives to arise from the JTMPNW event in Seattle in January.
One of the highlights was a Friday afternoon conversation with 22 fellow JTM members and other guests, led by Lewis A. Friedland, professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a member of the initiative working group. The discussion focused on the concept of an online commons, understanding what a commons is and what benefits it might bring to the Puget Sound area.
“Nobel Laureate in economics Elinor Ostrom studied commons worldwide, determining the rules and how they are sustained,” Friedland told the group. “Interestingly, she described them as being a third form of property, neither private, corporate or governmental.”
A common resource shared by all for use into perpetuity, commons are traditionally tangible in nature, such as a community shared park or grazing area. In the case of the Puget Sound Civic Communications Commons, the commons is primarily based on the Internet – although some physical face-to-face meetings and community events will also be planned.
Some questions raised by the group were:
- What is the common pool of civic needs?
- How do we share resources?
- How do commons members become visible to each other without adding an unnecessary layer of information to the current info glut in everyone’s world?
- What would catalyze the commons and make it sustainable?
An arts and civic engagement commons, a community garden project, and a youth Information Core geared towards developing living voices and collecting stories and resource data in support of commons initiatives in the Seattle area were discussed. There was also discussion of aligning with or extending media mapping effort of Washington News Council. “We’re building a model, discovering what we can provide other cities,” said commons initiative leader Rick Vanderknyff.
Other highlights and outcomes of the event included:
- A discussion with Tracy Robinson, director of the Seattle Center Foundation, about aligning the CCC with the Center’s “Next Fifty” celebration in 2012
- A demonstration of media mapping efforts by John Hamer and Jacob Caggiano of the Washington News Council
- The identification of several pilot efforts the CCC group will work to define and launch in the coming months
The group has been meeting regularly for several months, and the multi-day event was designed to move the initiative forward and identify concrete next steps. Members meeting for the full three days included Lew Friedland, Anne Stadler, Peggy Holman, Mike Fancher, Jeff VanderClute, Matt Rosenberg and Rick VanderKnyff. A more complete summary of the weekend’s activities will be shared with everyone who took part in the Friday conversation.