Evolution of the Commons – A request for help
For many who consider themselves as part of Monhegan Commons, it is recognized that one of the major goals of this virtual commons is a search for ways to avoid the logical results described in Garrett Hardin’s essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons”. The dilemma posed by Hardin here, in over simplified terms, points out that it is rational and in the best interest of each individual sharing a commons to increase their use of the fixed resource, as in so doing, they reap the total profit from the increase while the cost of doing so is distributed amongst all the users of that commons. Or, in purely eco-political terms: capitalizing the gains and socializing the losses. There are so many current examples of this in our US Commons, negating the need to show that while good for a few in the short run, it is a disaster for most in both the short and long run. We are still left to deal with the privatizing of this continent’s indigenous people’s land, to say nothing of the short term gains from slavery.
Far better to look at the way Monhegan dealt with the outside world. For close to two hundred years the Island’s inhabitants welcomed artists to the Island. Edison’s ‘Monhegan Associates’ formalized the relationship between the winter and summer communities. ‘Daytrippers’ are a welcomed and even necessary part of the economic life of the Island as a whole. The Museum shares this Island’s culture with all that visit. Monhegan Artists’ Residency Corp. facilitates the evolution of emerging Maine artists. While these examples are obvious, more abound.
Events on the ground present challenges to which we must respond. Failure to do so is perhaps worst than responding inappropriately. Monhegan’s record is far better than most commons in dealing with the threats of the day. Even so we might do better in dealing with the world’s latest threat, technology. Wishing that it did not, or will not affect the Island is denialism in the extreme. If you can buy that, the next step would be to find ways of getting technology to work for/with you – not be overrun by it. Yet technology by itself is not the issue as much as content. Sure, the daily photos are refreshing, but really, they’re not much compared to a bunch of Zimmie’s post cards. MC’s photos are daily, however, and that is where we’ve gotten the advantage. What I feel is lacking as of right now is content: ideas, issues, discussions, debates
As you might guess, I have some ideas. These ideas are crude and in the need of massive input from the likes of you (it is a commons, not a fiefdom). I appeal for your thinking on just what is in the best (virtual) long term interest of Monhegan Commons, given the reality of technology. After kicking this idea about a bit we’ll try to construct a new ‘statement of purpose’, incorporating the best of what we would hope for.
Please, add your comments (knowing that transparency and accountability are the necessary price tags for this vehicle of free speech).