The Walking Reading Group on Commons at SPACE London MARCH I JUNE I JULY 2016

Commissioned by SPACE, our latest edition of four works provides the chance to discuss the many and varied viewpoints related to the commons, including resource, community and the process of commoning. As part of each walk, invited guests will contribute their perspective on this rich and contentious discourse. This edition includes an essay written by Maru Rojas in response to the project and the commons.


Wednesday 9th March 2016, 6:00-9:00pm
In preparation for the edition on the Commons, we hosted an open forum event to gather ideas and perspectives on the theme. Instead of going for a walk, we stayed in Space and talked in pairs over refreshments.
Guest speaker and guerilla gardener, Richard Reynolds introduced us to ways in which the urban environment can be appropriated for common use. We collectively read short texts by Joseph Rykwert, David Starsmeare and Casco to inspire our conversations.

Wednesday 29th June 2016, 6:00 – 9:00 PM with Rosanna Thompson and Tatiana Baskakova, New Cross Commoners
Our first walk in this edition was intended as an overview of the idea of the commons. Using texts by An Architektur, Garrett Hardin, Silvia Federici and Justin McGuirk as stimulus, we headed north-west into Dalston through London Fields.
In a private road off Dalston Lane, Rosanna Thompson and Tatiana Baskakova, our guests from the New Cross Commoners, staged a provocation which explored differences and similarities across members of the group.
We finished the walk in Gillett Sqaure, and continued our conversations nearby in the Railway Tavern.

An Architektur, 2010. ‘On the Commons: A Public Interview with Massimo de Angelis and Stavros Stavrides’ in e-flux journal #17

Hardin, G. 1968. ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ in Science, New Series, Vol. 1 62, No. 3859, pp 1 243–1 248

Federici, S. 2010. ‘Feminism And the Politics of the Commons.’, The Commoner

McGuirk, J. 201 5. ‘Urban commons have radical potential – it’s not just about community gardens’ in The Guardian

Wednesday 6th July 2016, 6:00 – 9:00 PM with Michael Smythe, Phytology
For our second walk in this edition, we were interested in commons as a resource. Texts by Elinor Ostrom, David Harvey and Manuela Zechner formed the basis of our conversations.
We headed south towards Bethnal Green, where we stopped in Phytology, an artist-led project in a reclaimed nature reserve. Michael Smythe, our guest for the evening who co-runs the project, introduced us to the multi-faceted space.
Following the provocation, we continued west, and finished the walk at the top of Arnold Circus. We carried on the conversations in a pub close by Arnold Circus.

Ostrom E. 1990. Governing the Commons. The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 1, pp 13–15, pp 30–35

Harvey, D. 2013. ‘The Creation of the Urban Commons’ in Rebel Cities, Verso, London, pp 67–88

Zechner, M. 2015. ‘Barcelona en Comú: the city as horizon for radical democracy’ in Roar Magazine

Wednesday 13th July 2016, 6:00 – 9:00 PM with Alex Colas, Birchbeck College  
This evening’s focus was the idea of commons as a community. Our guest was Alex Colas, who teaches International Relations at Birkbeck College. Conversations were inspired by texts from Andrea Phillips, Jo Fisher, Andrew Simms & Molly Conisbee, and illustrations by Cliff Harper. We walked eastwards to Victoria Park, where Alex Colas staged a provocation with the cooking and tasting of a gazpacho in the public space by referring to Chilean women in the 70s who used the kitchen for resistance and transformation. We finished the walk at Crate in Hackney Wick, where we shared pizzas overlooking the River Lea.

Phillips, A. 2016. ‘Invest in what? How to work together, the Arts Council’s Catalyst Fund and art’s contemporary economic infrastructure.’

Fisher, J. 1993. ‘Chile: The Kitchen Never Stopped’ in Out of the Shadows. Women, Resistance and Politics in South America, The Latin American Bureau, London

Simms, A. & Conisbee, M. 201 2. ‘National Gardening Leave. Why Britain would be better off if we all spent less time at the office.’

Harper, P. & Boyle, G. 1976. Visions (visuals) in: Radical Technology, Pantheon Books, London

Wednesday 20th July 2016, 6:00 – 9:00 PM with Russell Miller, Tree Musketeers
For the last walk in this edition, we considered the process of commoning. We were joined by Russell Miller who represents the Tree Musketeers, a local group who voluntarily care for trees. We made a lopsided figure of eight around former common, London Fields, while discussing texts by Peter Linebaugh, Gustavo Esteva, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Doina Petrescu. Halfway through the walk, Russell’s facilitated a reenactment of an anti-capitalist demonstration from Prague in 2000. This provocation showed how groups with different approaches can join forces to achieve a collective aim. We completed the evening, and this edition, by continuing our conversations in London Fields’ wild flower meadow.

Linebaugh, P. 2008. The Magna Carta Manifesto. Liberties and Commons for All, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, pp 279–281

Esteva, G. 2014. ‘Commoning in the new society’ in Community Development Journal, Oxford University Press

Laderman Ukeles, M. 1 969. ‘Manifesto For Maintenance Art 1 969! Proposal for an exhibition Care.’

Petrescu, D. 2007. ‘The Indeterminate Mapping of the Common’ in Field Journal 1, pp 90–99