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Catalysing the Sydney Commons Lab

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Michel Bauwens, global founder P2P Foundation  presenting at an InCollaboration Common Passion Event in 2018
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Following the Common Passion Events Councillor Jess Scully called a Roundtable with event participants, additional academics and City of Sydney staff to discuss progression of commons initiatives in Sydney. 

InCollaboration initiated Sydney Commons Lab in 2019 following a series of events 

Many citizens are deeply concerned about the growing gap between rich and poor, the trickling up of wealth and inadequate responses to environmental crises and challenges. The lab is part of a global movement supporting community-led initiatives for the common good for shared ownership or stewardship of resources, including digital platforms, and building local wealth. Initiatives emphasise people working together collaboratively and sharing decision-making to enable connected, inclusive and resilient communities and regenerating ecologies. 

While InCollaboration is the lead catalysing organisation for SCL, collaborating organisations include or have included  University of NSW - Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation, The Sharing Tree, Sharing Map, UTS - Centre for Business and Social Innovation, UTS - Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation,  Western Sydney University, Sydney Policy Lab - Sydney University, New Economy Network Australia, Foodlab Sydney, P2P Foundation, Social Surplus, Mercury Coop, The Grove, Incubator Coop, Pre-Power, Start Some Good, Shelter NSW,  Urban Apostles, Way of  Being and Digital Storytellers.  

We are supported by the City of Sydney and anticipate  relationships  with other Councils across Sydney over time. 

We have published Version one of the Commons Transition Plan for the City of Sydney  with Appendix on Community Wealth Building

We recently hosted the event Together Sydney: Communities Building Common Wealth, with local, national and international speakers.

The video recording of the full event  as well as individual presentations  are online.


City of Sydney's Resilient Sydney Strategy (RSS) highlights inequitable growth, declining social cohesion, an absence of community agency, and threats to healthy ecological systems. These come through as problems with “homelessness and housing affordability, lack of access to public transportation systems, family violence, climate change, structural inequity, and chronic food or water shortages” (RSS). 

The Commons movement emphasises the need for more ownership or stewardship of resources by communities, rather than by the State or the private sector. Many resources need to be shared to enable access to essential needs. Everyone has a right to access food, water, energy, housing and social care. There is no commons without commoning. While the commons is the shared resource, commoning is the working together democratically to look after the resource for use now and ideally also for future generations.

We seek out existing and inspiring new initiatives across these and other areas, also including transport and waste. 

We have begun building an active ecosystem of citizens and multi sector organisations, sharing ideas resources and energies, developing collective vision/s and leadership, learning about and promoting working models while inspiring and supporting new initiatives. 

Commons-based models support economic and social inclusion and cohesion. They do this and stand in contrast to the dominant economic paradigm and systems of competition, winner-takes-all and growth at any cost.


Sydney Commons Lab experiments in how we collaborate to share stories, build networks and recommend policies in support of practical, exemplar initiatives, enterprises and projects for the transition from an economy that benefits a few to one that works for everyone and looks after our Earth. 

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