The Value of the Commonwealth
February 11, 2014

commonwealthdiagramIf you’ve been following along in our blog posts, you’ll notice that we’ve been sharing in-depth about many of the aspects that make up our organization. When we shared about our region in one of our more recent blogs, you might have noticed that many of the communities that make up the High Plains region are actually towns and small cities who have an economic base in agriculture. Some of these towns have been losing population, facing an economic decline, or dying out altogether.

One of our goals in our organization is to impact our region in such a way that these towns and communities aren’t declining, but instead are thriving. One of the ways we hope to do this is by reinvigorating the community’s commonwealth.

As we share in the About Us section of our website, Commonwealth is a set of assets that every community is endowed with. In our mission, Ogallala Commons focuses on commonwealth because it is the foundation for our economic, social, and cultural life–as well as the basis for building new careers and enterprises. Commonwealth is part and parcel of the commons. It consists of both local and regional assets that can be enhanced, preserved, and re-invested in to create more resources over a long-term horizon.

Commonwealth is:

  • Gifts of the natural world and human society that have monetary and non-monetary value in supporting life and well-being for both human and natural communities.
  • Wealth we inherit or create together, which we desire to pass on, as undiminished and regenerative as possible, to our children and future generations
  • A sector of the economy that compliments but is also distinct from the market and government sectors
  • Communal assets that increase or decrease depending on management

To learn more about commonwealth, we suggest a small, informative book, Our Commonwealth: The Hidden Economy That Makes Everything Else Work by Jonathan Rowe.

Our desire is to help make the communities that make up our region stronger, more vibrant, and more sustainable. In the next few weeks, we would like to share a little more about the 12 key assets we think make up the commonwealth of any community.

Take a moment to think about your community and the area in which it is found. What are its assets, both from nature and from the cultures and society that we inhabit? What are ways to steward these assets so that they benefit both people and the land? We would love to hear about your community and your answers to these questions in the comments below!