Dundee Commons Festival brings together individuals, community groups and organisations who recognise a common concern – how to bring social, environmental and economic wellbeing to the city. For the purpose of the festival we think of this as an act of commoning.
Traditionally a commons – or in Scotland, a commonty* – was a piece of land held in common use. It wasn’t owned by anyone but it was used by everyone. People regulated their use of the land – no overgrazing of livestock, for example – and supported one another to maintain the commons.
Today the meaning of commons has been extended to refer to a wider set of values and actions in support of social, environmental and economic wellbeing. The word commons, as a noun, has been extended to the word commoning, as a verb: a way of being-in-common and working towards a common set of values.
Commoning happens every day in Dundee: from showing kindness to a stranger, offering organisational support to someone in need, busking in the street, litter picking on Broughty Ferry beach, or taking a child to swim in the Olympia. All of us, in our own way, are commoning the city.
But the bigger questions of the commons, and how we achieve our common aims, are still with us. How do we take responsibility for our lives? Who controls access to our common resources? What values underpin our economic development? In short, where does the commons fit in to our social, environmental and economic structures? And how do we raise a voice on behalf of the commons – both locally and globally?
Dundee Commons Festival offers a chance to raise a voice, to listen to one another, and to think through some of the difficulties we face. There are seven themes that run through the festival: Land as Commons, Food as Commons, People as Commons, Digital Commons, Art as Commons, Public Space, and Ceremony. But the overarching theme is Dundee as a Commons and how we work, play and think together to create a common future.
We look forward to meeting you at the Commons!
*Commonty: (Scots Law) A common; a piece of land in which two or more persons have a right.
Commoning: The festival is funded by the people of Dundee, with additional financial support from Dundee Festival Trust, Hannah Maclure Centre, University of Abertay, The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, and The Foyle Foundation. Roseangle Commons is gifted by Dundee West Church. Together we are commoning.