My sons play a computer game called Sim City. It’s a brilliant invention
that lets you design, grow, and govern your own virtual metropolis. You
plunk down streets, sewers, power systems, and subways. You zone for commerce,
industry, and residences. You drop in schools, hospitals, and fire stations.
Soon a city comes to life. It’s enough to engross kids for hours.
Now imagine an adult game called Sim Commons that lets you design and
grow your own virtual economic sector. The object of the game is to produce
the most happiness with the least destruction of nature. You plunk down
commons trusts, and from simple menus you assign them property rights,
ownership regimes, and management algorithms. As you play, the computer
displays your happiness and nature scores. Through trial and error, you
learn what combinations of moves work best.
In the real world, building a new commons sector will be something
like that. While we wait for an historic shift at the national
can build and experiment at lower levels. We can test
different kinds of trusts,
nonprofits, and informal associations, seeing how closely
they can hew to commons principles. Then, when history is ready
for bigger changes,
we’ll be ready too. ... read
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