Caring for the city in Seville

This week the people for Zemos98 in Seville are organizing an interesting meeting / festival / hackcamp called 17th ZEMOS98 Festival on the theme “Caring for the City: Reclaim the Commons”. They have an interesting program and an agenda that includes building a few things.

Central questions are: How to care for public spaces a? How to turn villages and cities into places where we live and breathe wellbeing?

We are happy that Andrew got invited to represent the work they have been doing in pixelache ry, specially last summer festival in Vartiosaari. Mariana will also be there, she will share with participants of the hackcamp lessons learned during our research work in the EUScreen EU project, specifically the challenges and issues involved in designing and making open and common audiovisual archives.

Waiting for some reports 🙂

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Forthcomming events of the SIG: Commons for Design and Commons for Helsinki

Members of the SIG are continuing their work around the theme of commons. During 2014 we are working on several fronts:

1) Citizen Toolkit as Urban Commons: towards a sustainable service for and by self-organized communities. A short project funded by Aalto Service Factory (CT_commons) in which some members of the SIG are involved. More info in this website

2) Helsinki_Commons mapping and doing. We will be organizing some activities in the framework of CampPixelache 2014 here in Helsinki. This annual un-conference/festival is organized by Pixeache ry and has the Commons as a theme this year!

3) Designing commons – Commons for design, a one day (academic) workshop we will be hosting at the Design Research Conference 2014 with colleagues from MĂ€lmo University. Yeah!

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Infrastructuring the Commons?

By Sanna Marttila, Andrea Botero and Joanna Saad-Sulonen
Extended blog post based on the presentation made at Infrastructuring the Commons Seminar in 7.11.2013

Over a year ago we gathered together to discuss and share our knowledge on “commons”. Each of us had encountered the concept and insights brought by research on traditional (e.g. forests and fisheries) and new commons, and found them both intriguing and inspiring. What could we as professional designers and researchers of digital media, who operate in commons-like frameworks and aim to support collective action, learn from the commons discourse? How can we link this ongoing discussion to practices found in art, design and planning, and more precisely those practices that have collaboration, participation and openness as central aspects?

In order to further this research agenda we applied funding from Aalto Service factory to organize a seminar Infrastructuring the Commons? to learn about research on commons, locate and link the discussion in the context of arts and design research, and moreover bring together ‘commoners’ in various fields and themes: Caring, Cultural and Urban Commons.

Insights and vocabulary on commons research spoke to us, however the terminology and the frameworks (coming mostly from economics) were somehow hard to chew. We have found one productive starting point by creating links between two very recent trends. On the one hand the recent interest in the global commons movement with “commoning” and on the other hand recent academic discussions that explore on the relationship between design and “infrastructuring”. In the Infrastructuring the Commons seminar we wanted to trace the contours of that relationship and invite others —researchers, practitioners and designers— to help up us cast our net wider.


Let us start with the word “Commoning”. The term “commoning” was initially coined by historian Peter Linebaugh (2009) in an attempt to portray aspects of the commons that are linked with activities, not just with the more widespread understanding that sees commons as material resources. He wanted a “verb” for the commons[1]. Later on researchers and activists such as David Bollier and Silke Helfrich have also been advocating for the term “commoning” as a way of providing a new and needed vocabulary to make visible both “the social practices and traditions that enable people to discover, innovate and negotiate new ways of doing things for themselves” (Bollier & Helfrich 2012). Commoning has also been used to point at contemporary efforts to create a “commons culture” in partnership with other actors (Pór 2012). Commoning thus encompasses the active nature of the commons, and the presence of active commoners that are taking part in the creation and maintaining of local and global commons.


The emphasis on “processes and activities” visible in the latter discussion on the commons brought to mind recent developments in the field of design research, the area of research where we operate. In collaborative media and information systems design there is a growing interest to understand how “infrastructuring” can be a useful framework for professional designers interested in taking seriously issues of participation and collaboration. In this context, Infrastructuring propositions take as a starting point previous work around the growing importance of information infrastructures as an integral part of contemporary life.

Notably Star & Ruhleder (1996, also Star & Bowker 2002) seek to place discussions around infrastructure on more relational terms. Not as some substrate that disappears, something that is built and left behind, but as something that only makes sense for someone in a particular practice.

Given such positioning, how do you infrastructure? Star and Bowker  (2002) suggest that what should be taken into consideration in doing infrastructuring is more ‘when’ something is being perceived as an infrastructure by its users rather than ‘what is’ an infrastructure. While most design approaches tend to focus on particular artefacts, neglecting—more or less—the surroundings in which the artefacts are placed into, it is precisely these surroundings, which become a concern for infrastructuring (Pipek & Wulf 2009). Accordingly, when doing infrastructuring a lot of design work should turn towards a continuous alignment between contexts and the ways in which this is socially achieved (Björgvinsson et al. 2012). From this point of view, infrastructuring becomes an engagement in experimenting with ways of achieving this alignment (Hillgren et al. 2011, Pipek & Wulf 2009) while accounting for the creative ‘design’ activities of professional designers and users across the divide and beyond technology (Karasti & SyrjĂ€nen 2004, Pipek & SyrjĂ€nen 2006) without necessarily privileging either view.

Talking about “infrastructuring” as an activity makes visible issues related to power, resources needed and so on. If we (as professional designers, artists, cultural practitioners) are to contribute to processes of “infrastructuring” existing and emerging commons, the question becomes: How to go about it?  Moreover, can we see the ways in which contemporary collaborative design processes are (or can be) a type of “design commons”? That is processes, structured in particular ways of doing and managing design contributions where contributors are not just designers, or users or producers but start to resemble a collective of commoners? This is a topic for design research we want to bring forward.

Design principles for Designing Commons?

In our field, media design, it is common practice to communicate practical knowledge in the form of articulated principles, strategies and practices for designing. The knowledge obtained in practice (a concrete design project or production) is reflected and shared with others who could make use them not as “recipes for success” but as anchors and thinking guidelines when immersed in practical design work. There are for example a compilation of design principles related to collaborative and participatory design (e.g. Greenbaum & Kyng 1992, Schuler & Namioka 1993), strategies for extended design engagement (e.g. Botero et al. 2010, Botero & Hyysalo 2013), and we also find emerging consideration for exercising open design (Abel et al. 2011). These observations bring us closer to the second aim of the seminar, which was to look more closely into what can be learned from research on commons in terms of “design principles”, and if and how they could be useful in “Commons Design”.

In her book Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Elinor Ostrom, analysed over 80 case studies of small or medium scale natural resource commons from various sectors (e.g. on agricultural production systems as forestry and fishery). In there Ostrom identified eight “design principles” that were present in cases of long-enduring and robust commons. By “design principles” Ostrom referred to ”an essential element or condition that helps to account for the success of these institutions in sustaining their common-pool resources (CPRs) and gaining the compliance of generations after generations (Ostrom 1990, 90). Later Ostrom has clarified that in fact she did not intend “design principles” to be used as principles in actual design work (Ostrom 2012, 7), however we still believe we could learn from them when thinking about the types of processes and frameworks we are involved in.

Indeed, the design principles have been inspiring over hundred studies in various research fields (see Hess & Ostrom 2007). Recently Cox et al. (2010) examined the applicability of Ostrom’s design principles in the context of CPRs management through a review of studies. They concluded, that empirically the principles continue to be well supported and propose how they could be elaborated further. Because Ostrom’s principles were concluded based on small scale and local settings, Stern (2011) argues that in order to make use of them in global settings they would require some modifications and additions. It is obvious that such modifications and adaptation will also apply if we are to learn from them in the field of design research.

What can be learned from the common-pool resources (CPR) design principles and the type of design strategies and tools needed to sustain “commons design”?

What can be learned from the common-pool resources (CPR) design principles and the type of design strategies and tools needed to sustain “commons design”?

Nevertheless, design principles can provide a valuable insight on the mechanisms of collective action and the status of common-pool resources. These factors are becoming crucial also to the field of media design, and design research in general as new technological possibilities are increasing the possibilities for ordinary people to 1) collaborate, create and share common resources and 2) take part in design activities earlier monopolized by professionals designers and other established actors, we need to developed more nuanced understanding of the distributed nature of design agency.

For this we might need to look at, understand, and engage collectively in processes distributed more radically in space and time and within more complex socio-material assemblies. Increasingly professional designers will be facing new challenges in supporting various levels of participation. This happens both in collaborative design and also in more “radical” open design activities. We are increasingly being involved in providing spaces or platforms for participation, communication and collaboration. As designers committed to collaboration and participation we are also designing tools and means for novel modes of production (e.g. peer production) and we lack good frameworks to locate our contributions and guide our actions. So far our most clear referent has been  “open source software” practices, but that clearly is only one set of possible references.

These are among many of the questions we asked ourselves: What could we as professional designers and practitioners, who operate in commons-like frameworks and aim to support collective action, learn from the commons discourse? How can we make use of the insights gained when formulating the CPR design principles? Could these principles be useful and applicable for not only analysing existing commons, but for commons design or “creating a commons culture” (Pór 2012) in partnership with other actors?

From our perspective, collaborative and open modes of design are relying more and more on being able to successfully create or manage (or infrastructure) a “commons”. Implications and insights that the CPR design principles provide could be linked much closer to these type of design efforts. A broader perspective on professional design activities for collective action and commons design might be warranted. Thus, as part of a research agenda for the future we are proposing to develop the contents of the following table to trace back and forth what can be learned from the CPR design principles and the type of design strategies and tools needed to sustain “commons design”.

Elsewhere / at the same time

Before concluding, we want to highlight some places were the theme of the Commons has been addressed both on the academic front and in practice, from different points of views and fields of knowledge:

Stockholm: In spring 2013 in Stockholm, urban commons theme was explored at the Commoning the City conference – their was a view of the commons based more in architecture and urban planning.

Berlin: An important happening was also the Economics and the Common(s) conference, which took place in Berlin spring 2013 and where a very wide range of Commons related topics were discussed. Global examples and insights were shared on issues ranging from the natural commons to the digital ones.

France: In France andthe francophone world, October has been the month of the Commons and many events and activities related to the commons have been organized by “commoners” of all types, such as people active on the cultural scene, but also open data, plant seeds, and food waste activists.

Shareable:  The need to map the various existing commons has also risen, and the technology for collaboratively doing it online makes it possible. The Shareable online magazine organized a Sharing Cities mapjam during last month asking for contributions worldwide on mapping the commons in different cities.  Our own Helsinki_Commons mapjam held on October 24, 2013 was also part of this global initiative. You can see us here getting our hands dirty, and the outcome was this map of everything that we could think would apply as being Commons in Helsinki (whether physical, digital, or “How to”s).

So, why and how come there is this renewed interest in the Commons at this point in time? As said in the Economies and the Common(s) conference report, the commons is gaining a growing interest because it is working, and provides alternative to conventional state-led or market-based modes of organization. Charlotte Hess suggested in our seminar that the growing interest “to alternative forms of collaboration and sharing of resources may reflect the rising frustration citizens feel toward ineffectual governments, corporate domination, and mass indifference/inaction to local and global problems”. New commons are created by people everyday everywhere to share resources and tackle common problems (see Hess 2008 for an overview of new commons). As discussed above it poses a challenge for professional designers to think about how we can design better infrastructures and frameworks that enable, mediate and foster the emerging and increasingly complex “commoning practices”, and new design principles and practices to contribute to, sustain, foster and design commons (Marttila & Botero 2013, Gil & Baldwin 2013).


Abel, B. van, Evers, L., Klaassen, R., & Troxler, P. (Eds.). (2011). Open Design Now: Why Design Cannot Remain Exclusive. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers.

Bollier, D., & Helfrich, S. (Eds.). (2012). The Wealth of the Commons: A world beyond market and State. Levellers Press.

Botero, A., Kommonen, K. H., & Marttila, S. (2010). Expanding design space: Design-in-use activities and strategies. In Proceedings of the DRS Conference on Design and Complexity.

Botero, A., & Hyysalo, S. (2013). Ageing together: Steps Towards Evolutionary Co-design in Everyday Practices. CoDesign, 9(1), 37–54. doi:10.1080/15710882.2012.760608

Björgvinsson, E., Ehn, P., & Hillgren, P.-A. (2012). Agonistic participatory design: working with marginalised social movements. CoDesign, 8(2-3), 127–144. doi:10.1080/15710882.2012.672577

Bollier, D., & Helfrich, S. (Eds.). (2012). The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State. Levellers Press.

Cox, M., G. Arnold, and S. Villamayor Tomås. 2010. A review of design principles for community-based natural resource management. Ecology and Society 15(4): 38. [online] URL:

Gil, N., & Baldwin, C. Y. (2013). Creating a Design Commons: Lessons from Teachers’ Participation in the Design of New Schools (Working Paper No. 14-025). Harvard Business School.

Greenbaum J., & Kyng, M. eds. 1991. Design at work: Cooperative Design of Computer Systems, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Economics and the Common(s): From seed form to core paradigm (2013). A report on an international conference on the future of the commons. Organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Commons Strategies Group, Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation and Remix the Commons.

Hess, C. (2008). Mapping the New Commons. In Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges. Presented at the 12th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons, University ofGloucestershire, England. Available at SSRN.

Hess, C. and E. Ostrom (Eds.) (2007). Understanding Knowledge as Commons. Cambridge, Ma: The MIT Press.

Hillgren, P.-A., Seravalli, A., & Emilson, A. (2011). Prototyping and Infrastructuring in Design for Social Innovation. CoDesign, International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, 7(3-4), 169–183.

Karasti, H., & SyrjĂ€nen, A.-L. (2004). Artful infrastructuring in two cases of community PD. In Proceedings of the eighth conference on Participatory design: Artful integration: interweaving media, materials and practices – Volume 1 (pp. 20–30). New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:10.1145/1011870.1011874

Linebaugh, P. (2009). The Magna Carta manifesto: liberties and commons for all. University of California Pr.

Marttila, S., & Botero, A. (2013). The “Openness.Turn” in Co-Design. From Usability, Sociability and Designability Towards Openness. In Co-create 2013, the boundarycrossing conference and Co-design in Inovation (pp. 99–110). Espoo, Finland: Aalto University.

Ostrom, E. (1991). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge University Press.

Ostrom, E., Chang, C., Pennington, M., & Tarko, V. (2012). The Future of the Commons: Beyond Market Failure and Government Regulation. Institute of Economic Affairs.

Pipek, V., & SyrjÀnen, A.-L. (2006). Infrastructuring As Capturing In-Situ Design. In 7th Mediterranean Conference on Information Systems,. Venice, Italy: Association of Information Systems.

Pipek, V., & Wulf, V. (2009). Infrastructuring: Toward an Integrated Perspective on the Design and Use of Information Technology. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 10(5). Retrieved from

PĂłr, G. (2012) School of Commoning. In The Wealth of the Commons: A world beyond market and State. Eds. Bollier & Helfrich. Levellers Press.

Star, S. L., & Ruhleder, K. (1996). Steps Toward an Ecology of Infrastructure: Design and Access for Large Information Spaces. Information systems research, 7(1), 111–134.

Star, S. L., & Bowker, G. (2006). How to Infrastructure. In L. A. Lievrouw & S. Livingstone (Eds.), The Handbook of New Media – Student edition (pp. 230–244). Sage Publications, Inc.

Stern, P. C. (2011). Design principles for global commons: Natural resources and emerging technologies. International Journal of the Commons, 5(2), 213-232.


[1] The blog post What is Commoning, Anyway? is documenting this agenda with more detail.



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Commons seminar videos finally online



The seminar was a complete success, thanks all that came! We had 98 people attending the morning session, around 40 people discussing in the afternoon parallel sessions and close to 100 views in the live stream.

Many important issues where raised up and we all got left with the impression that the theme is too important to leave it there. We need to bring these topics to more concrete actions and engage in more research to understand the implications. We hope to compile in the blog more reports of the seminar for the time being I leave you with the link in vimeo where you can watch video footage of the presentations.

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Seminar documentation and discussion back-channels

Registration to the seminar is closed now because it is FULL :). However no need to be worried, if you do not make it to Arabia, or are unable to fit in the auditorium you can follow the morning session presentations through this live video stream:

We are also asking people in the audience to use the following hashtag in their Twitter twits or their FB /Google+ updates  #Helsinki_Commons . That way we can aggregate questions, comments and make a documentation of the event.

See you tomorrow!

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Tere Vaden: “What do you think you are doing?” Two cases of building commons

Tere VadenProfessor Tere VadĂ©n’s contribution to the seminar  presents two recent cases of building commons: Vertaisrahasto / Peer fund, ( and Robin Hood Minor Asset Management ( The first was launched as a vehicle for funding scientific research in an open and democratic manner, without the usual overlays of elitist expert culture. The second is an “investment co-operative of the precariat”, aiming at creating income independent of wage labour.

Both have necessitated an experimental and cross-disciplinary approach, where social, artistic and more narrowly technical issues can be balanced. The experimentality entails
improvisation and provisionality, and an attitude that can combine these with the demands of organisation and bureaucracy, especially while both cases deal with money. It seems that some of the open source principles (such as “release early, release often”) are helpful not only in terms of speeding up the development but also in creating essential transparency and trust.

Complete presentation:

Tere VadĂ©n is a philosopher living in Tampere, Finland. He teaches art education at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki, and is an editor of the Finnish philosophical journal niin & nĂ€in ( He has published several articles on the philosophy of mind and language, as well as the books Wikiworld (with Juha Suoranta; Pluto, London 2010), and Artistic Research (with Mika Hannula and Juha Suoranta, ArtMonitor, Gothenburg 2005). One of Tere’s research topics is open source and the various forms of peer production. He is one of the initiators of (, a peer fund for anonymous research proposals, and a contributor to the research initiative Statistical Studies of Peer Production (, supported by the P2P Foundation.

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Cultural Commons

By Sanna Marttila and Erling Björgvinsson

Since the commons scholars began to study ‘the information commons’ and ‘the knowledge commons’ in the digital age, instead of the more traditional focus on natural resource management systems, there has been increasing interest to understand what commons could mean in the cultural environment (cf. Hess 2008; Madison et. al 2010; Bertacchini et. al 2012).

Film Production

CC BY by vancouverfilmschool in Flickr

What do we mean when we speak of Cultural Commons? Commons is often referred as to resource or a resource system shared and generated by a group of people that is vulnerable to social dilemmas and that require various mechanisms and rules to be robust and sustainable (Hess & Ostrom 2007). Against this background Cultural Commons can be understood in a myriad of ways (Marttila 2013). First, as cultural artefacts and resources produced, sustained and managed in a commons-like framework (e.g. a set of cultural objects that have been given some form of commons license). Alternatively Cultural Commons can be approached as an environment, system or infrastructure that is shaping the interactions and participations of people and resources around them (organized network with self-governance and persistent institutional arrangements, or distributed, unsteady and temporary networks of alliances). Furthermore the Cultural Commons can be understood as widely as the vast array of created cultures that are expressed and shared by people.

Building upon both theory and practice, this session aims to conceptualize and critically explore the concept of Cultural Commons. The session has two key objectives: To collaboratively map the multifaceted nature of Cultural Commons to define and challenge the concept of cultural commons, and to identify design and user strategies related to commons-like frameworks, seen from cultural perspective (in contraposition to economical, managerial. etc perspective).

In this Cultural Commons session we ask: What are the emerging design practices and tools to collaboratively design  sustainable cultural commons? How to facilitate the growth of emerging public knowledge resources? How the digital networks and cultural resources can be transferred for the public good? What perspectives and actions of infrastucturing (Björgvinsson et. al 2012; Star & Bowker 2006) and commoning (Bollier & Helfrich 2012) can bring to the discussion on Cultural Commons? What are the current and emerging threats of Cultural Commons?

We adopt an interdisciplinary approach and invite participants from various research fields (e.g. cultural studies, social sciences, management and design research) as well as practitioners (artists, designers, activists, producers) to share their insights, research results, projects and practical experiences related to the above questions.

Participation in the seminar sessions requires sending a short contribution to one of the sessions via this form!


Bertacchini, E., Bravo G., Marrelli M., Santagata W. (Eds.) (2012). Cultural Commons. A New Perspective on the Production and Evolution of Cultures. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Bollier, D., & Helfrich, S. (Eds.). (2012). The Wealth of the Commons: A world beyond market and State. Levellers Press.

Björgvinsson, E., Ehn, P., & Hillgren, P.-A. (2012). Agonistic participatory design: working with marginalised social movements. CoDesign, 8(2-3), 127–144. doi:10.1080/15710882.2012.672577

Hess, C. (2008) Mapping the New Commons (July 1, 2008). Available at SSRN.

Hess, C. and E. Ostrom (Eds.) (2007). Understanding Knowledge as Commons. Cambridge, Ma: The  MIT Press.

Madison, Michael J. Frischmann, Brett M.  & Strandburg, Katherine J. (2010) Constructing Commons in the Cultural Environment, 95 CORNELL L. REV. 657.

Marttila, S. (2013) Understanding Cultural Commons (May 26, 2013). Paper presented at The Political Economy of the Commons Seminar at the University of Helsinki.

Star, S. L., & Bowker, G. (2006). How to Infrastructure. In L. A. Lievrouw & S. Livingstone (Eds.), The Handbook of New Media – Student edition (pp. 230–244). Sage Publications, Inc.

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Who is who? Sessions on Caring, Cultural and Urban Commons the 7.11

An important part of the program of the seminar (7.11.2013) are three parallel thematic sessions where we discuss different approaches and resources that relate to the theme of Infrastructuring the Commons from 3 particular angles: Caring commons, Cultural commons and Urban commons.

Here are introduced in short the people who make the sessions happen:

Andrea Botero (MA) is a doctoral candidate at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture of the Aalto University were she also works as project lead/designer in externally funded R&D projects. Her research interest spin around understanding theoretical and practical implications of broad participation in creative design processes, how can we design with care and contribute more to sustain commons. She would like to understand better how all these might relate to “innovation”. One first attempt at that is her dissertation, which she just recently defended. Her design work explores services, media formats, genres and technologies for collectives, communities and their social practices. (Caring Commons) More about Andrea

Tania Perez Bustos has PhD in Education with a Masters in Development Studies and undergrads in Social Anthropology and Communication studies. Her areas of research are related to the feminist politics of knowledge circulation especially in popular settings (media, non formal education settings, initiatives of scientific engagement with broad publics) and to the cultural feminization of certain practices related to science and technology. She has worked with a variety of topics, including science museums and Free Software communities in Colombia and India, the ethnographic analysis of human genetics news coverage in Colombian and the know-how of geneticists working in the DNA identification of war victims as a matter of care. Her current research focuses on the public communication practices of scientific knowledge directed towards non-expert audiences, which are mobilized by women belonging to sexual minorities and to ethnic groups. (Caring Commons) More about Tania: (Website in Spanish)

Sanna Marttila is a doctoral candidate at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture of the Aalto University. She has a background in humanities and new media and digital design. Her research centers on designing meaningful public access to the vast digital archives that exists in public memory institutions. As a designer Sanna’s interest includes open and collaborative design and creative re-use utilizing archival materials online. Sanna is vice chair of the Open Knowledge Finland board and works actively with the Finnish GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) sector. She is also engaged in Creative Commons Finland where she is promoting an open and collaborative cultural sector. (Cultural Commons)

Erling Björgvinsson is an assistant professor at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University. He has managed a lab that focused on collaborative cultural production through design-lead and art-lead research where academics, professionals, and citizens co-produce – productions that at times address cultural commons. His research area is in design and art methodology and specifically on collabora­tive and participatory design-lead research. He has published articles, amongst other, in CoDesign – International Journal of CoCreation in Design, Design Issues, and Journal of Arts and Communities. (Cultural Commons)

Joanna Saad-Sulonen is a doctoral candidate at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture of the Aalto University. She has a background in architecture and new media and digital design. Her research addresses the limitations of the current approach to participatory e-planning, where the relationship between technology and citizen participation in urban planning is often based on the application of “ready-to-use” technology in the context of formal participation and urban planning processes. By situating her work at the intersection of digital design and urban planning, she proposes a new conceptualization of participatory e-planning, which enables the collaborative development of both technologies and participation processes concurrently. (Urban Commons) More about Joanna: ,

Karoliina Jarenko (M. Sc.) is a researcher and doctoral candidate at the Aalto University, YTK – Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group, and CEO of Filosofian Akatemia Oy. She is interested in the interplay between self-interest and the common good: the conditions and boundaries of willingness to compromize one’s private interest for the common cause.  She studies collaborative planning drawing from political philosophy and democracy theory. Her doctoral thesis focuses on the concept of public interest, searching for the justification for public planning in complex and plural contemporary societies. (Urban Commons) More about Karoliina:

Peter Parker is a senior lecturer in Leadership and Organization at the Dept of Urban Studies, Malmö University (Sweden). Previous research interests include informal organization and social networks. More recent research focuses on the concept of urban commons and the relationship of urban commons to issues of social sustainability as well as a highly related theme that might be called participatory governance. (Urban Commons) More about Peter:

Registration for the afternoon sessions here!

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Caring Commons, what do we mean?

By Andrea Botero and Tania Perez Bustos

” Care includes everything we do to maintain, continue and repair our ‘world’ so that we can live in it as well as possible. That world includes, our bodies, ourselves and our environment; all of which we seek to interweave in a complex life-sustaining web” (Tronto, 1993: 103).

care-peqThis session invites reflection on the relationship between the concepts of ”care” and ”commons”. This reflection includes identifying the obvious required acts for taking care of the commons (Brown& Spink 1997, Walljasper 2012) as well as looking at the singularities and commonalities of commons that deal with care (e.g. Cassel & Brennan 2007). However, we also believe that it is possible to reflect more generally on commons as a way of caring and in particular in the potential and limits of care as possible framework for understanding and locating communing and infrastructuring practices in design.

Recent developments around the category of care, mostly coming from feminist scholarship (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2010, 2012; Haraway, 2007, Singleton 2012, Rose, 1983, Suchman, 2011) allows us to think with and about care from a variety of scenarios and practices that go beyond particular occupations traditionally associated with it (e.g. healthcare, maintenance or reproductive labor). Potentially, care can be found in different contexts; rendering it valuable looking glass especially when caring seems to be out of place, superfluous or absent (Puig de la Bellacasa 2011). We believe this more general approach might help to illuminate many aspects of communing challenges and possibilities. There is a transformative and repairing potential in care as a way to deal with affections, interdependence as well as with marginality and precarization (dimensions usually associated with the concept) that can be worth exploring.

As a matter of fact in the recent conference on the Economics of the Commons held in Berlin earlier this year, one of the tracks and its keynote already hinted at the potentiality of looking closer at this relationship. On that occasion, focusing mostly on a particular caring context, that of ”reproductive care” work, and its relationship to so called ”productive” work (see Gottschlich 2013). We want to cast the net broader and ask, together with Star (1995) and Puig de la Bellacasa (2011):

What does it mean to care? Who cares? When and how we care? What is the role and power of Care in Commons context and in infrastructuring new commons? Perhaps through this we can trace seeds for how can we design with care?

Come with your project, ideas, questions and lets think together (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2012), what commons and care can learn from each other! Here the complete program of the seminar (7.11.2013),  and the registration form to the Caring Commons session.

Andrea & Tania


Brown, V., & Spink, M. (1997). Caring for the Commons: Socio-cultural Considerations in Oceans Policy Development and Implementation (Issue 4). Sydney, Australia: Centre for Research in Healthy Futures. University of Western Sydney.

Gottschlich, D. (2013). Doing away with “labour”: working and caring in a world of commons. Expeditions into (re)thinking the role of human (re)productive activity and its inherent nature in a generative commons network. Presented at the Economics and the Commons Conference 2013, Berlin. Retrieved from: A video of the Keynote presented by Heike Löschmann is available at:

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Helsinki Commons? Join us the 24th of October to map them

What forms of commons and commoning are present today in a city like Helsinki? As part of the preparations for the seminar we are arranging a smaller and local working session (mostly in Finnish) where we are inviting other commons oriented practitioners and researchers here to join us in mapping existing and emerging commons in Helsinki: spaces, data, actions and tools. We will use an online mapping tool for that and we will attempt in 3 hours to fill the map with the stuff we know: the people, places, initiatives and best practices flurrying around. Perhaps this map can become a useful tool for all those working with the urban and digital commons in Helsinki.

Here a Facebook event with details (suomeksi)

As a side we hope to talk about what does the concept of commons bring to the sustainability urban activism and social engagement of citizens and to the services and policies provided by the municipality? Can we do more commoning together?

This local event is also the springboard for the Open cities working group (OKFinland).

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