We build in public. This means transparency in
- Where money is coming from
- Where money is going
- Values by which we make financial decisions
- Measures of equity in who leads at YPC
- Measures of collective impact as made possible through resources including financial ones
- Mechanisms for changing the policies
- Mechanisms for accountable community
- Mechanisms for dynamic decision-making
Let’s also consider financial resources as a question of governing the commons. In this I look to Elinor Ostrum, the only female Nobel Laureate of Economics who studied the commons and what makes them sustainable. She found these eight principles:
1. Commons need to have clearly defined boundaries. In particular, who is entitled to access to what? Unless there’s a specified community of benefit, it becomes a free for all, and that’s not how commons work.
2. Rules should fit local circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to common resource management. Rules should be dictated by local people and local ecological needs.
3. Participatory decision-making is vital. There are all kinds of ways to make it happen, but people will be more likely to follow the rules if they had a hand in writing them. Involve as many people as possible in decision-making.
4. Commons must be monitored. Once rules have been set, communities need a way of checking that people are keeping them. Commons don’t run on good will, but on accountability.
5. Sanctions for those who abuse the commons should be graduated. Ostrom observed that the commons that worked best didn’t just ban people who broke the rules. That tended to create resentment. Instead, they had systems of warnings and fines, as well as informal reputational consequences in the community.
6. Conflict resolution should be easily accessible. When issues come up, resolving them should be informal, cheap and straightforward. That means that anyone can take their problems for mediation, and nobody is shut out. Problems are solved rather than ignoring them because nobody wants to pay legal > fees.
7. Commons need the right to organise. Your commons rules won’t count for anything if a higher local > authority doesn’t recognise them as legitimate.
8. Commons work best when nested within larger networks. Some things can be managed locally, but some might need wider regional cooperation – for example an irrigation network might depend on a river that others also draw on upstream.
Other places to learn from