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The Power of the Commons


How do we create a world that is free, fair and alive? With keynote speakers David Bollier and Silke Helfrich.

Commons scholars and activists David Bollier and Silke Helfrich will describe how the paradigm of the commons can guide us through a post-capitalist transition. From community land trusts and platform cooperatives to open source design and beyond, commons function as trusted, self-organized systems for managing shared wealth. They can overcome many entrenched pathologies of neoliberal capitalism through social practices that honour care, collaboration, and eco-stewardship. Such strategies are increasingly vital as current systems spiral into deeper dysfunction – political gridlock, climate breakdown, precarious livelihoods, and much else. This presentation draws upon Bollier & Helfrich’s new book, ‘Free Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons’.

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David Bollier
Director of ‘Reinventing the Commons Program’ at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics & Co-author Free, Fair and Alive
Silke Helfrich
Co-author Free, Fair and Alive
Marleen Stikker
Directeur en mede-oprichter Waag
Sjoerd Wartena
Terre de Liens

Bollier and Helfrich’s new book, Free Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons explores these themes in great depth. It discusses commons as living social systems with their own peer governance, new types of “relationalized property” to move beyond conventional ownership, and commons/public partnerships that leverage the social logic and ethic of commoning.

Following talks by Bollier and Helfrich, experts in technology, art, sustainable agriculture, and politics will reflect on how the idea of the commons has inspired their work and thinking. Invited participants include Marleen Stikker of Waag Society, the Amsterdam-based organization working on the intersection of technology, science and art, and Sjoerd Wartena of Terre de Liens, the French civic organization that creates access to farmland for organic and peasant farmers.

David Bollier is Director of the Reinventing the Commons Program at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics in the US, and Cofounder of the international Commons Strategies Group.  More information about the Schumacher Center, the book Free, Fair and Alive, and Bollier’s activism can be found at,, and

Silke Helfrich is an independent activist, author, scholar, and speaker. She cofounded the Commons Strategies Group and Commons-Institute, was former head of the regional office of Heinrich Böll Foundation for Central America, Cuba, and Mexico, and holds degrees in Romance languages/pedagogy and in social sciences. Helfrich is the editor and co-author of several books on the Commons, blogs at, and lives in Neudenau, Germany.