In 2020 we organised a research exhibition at Temporary Contemporary Gallery of Queensgate Market, Huddersfield with a selection of works from around the world. Each case study showed the power of active citizenship, local environmental actions, and socially embedded learning-teaching. But perhaps more importantly, the exhibition highlighted changes these cases made in their cities. All projects had one thing in common - practicing and shaping the Urban Commons and Commoning Practices, as the name of the
exhibition goes. Our goal was to make visible some refreshing initiatives by everyday people who, despite of many challenges and struggles, have come together to work, create, or reclaim things that matter to their community - through the process of commoning. What is the commons and commoning practices, then? Well, we will start with some examples closer to home. A group of active citizens at Todmorden have been reviving the town’s local business, education, and community by the simple act of growing vegetables. At Liverpool, residents formed the Granby Residents Association to revive their neighbourhood by painting derelict properties, rewilding, gardening and setting up weekend markets in their shared spaces and streets. At Leeds to take back power from greedy landlords, activists set up cooperative housings such as Cornerstone
Cooperative Housing where people share living spaces, responsibilities, and collective ownership of their housing. These are some of the many examples of collective action, mutual help and solidarity that exist all over the UK. The commons are alternative pro-social systems around shared resources created and managed by self-organised communities.
David Bollier defines commoning as the process of jointly creating and managing things that matter to us for a shared vision/ambition (2022) with minimal to no support from the market or state. It is an ever-evolving social phenomenon, innovated by the everyday life practices of people who manage them. The commons do not just exist but are  made by joint participatory efforts. One commons is never the same as the other and this includes the potential commons and commoners we see in Kirklees. Following the exhibition in 2020, introductions and conversations with local active citizens led us to explore urban commoning practices with communities in Huddersfield, UK. It was inspiring to see that there was already a large number of locally rooted experiences present and evolving across Kirklees. Some are based on making and fixing spaces such as the Huddersfield Repair café or The Making Space; some exploring visual culture at Temporary Contemporary; others are building communities at Highfields community orchard; some focus on environmentalism such as Culture Declares Emergency Kirklees and others encourage regional democracy at SameSkies Think Tank; some at Third Sector Leaders Kirklees work to support and empower growing citizen groups while others provide guidance to work with authorities via Natural Kirklees. There is plenty of impulse, resilience, collective spirit, and shared creativity. We have collaborated with active residents and grassroots groups to explore what commoning looks like in the context of Kirklees1. More specifically by working as part of a citizen-led group to bring back an ex-allotment land into communal use, we experienced the complexities and challenges behind grassroots initiatives as we explored how ethos of commoning unfolds here. As a takeaway from our previous experiences and following our ongoing research interest in commoning practices, it was important for us to form ways to support these collaborative actions which could ultimately lead to the making of potential commons. Especially in the wake of a global pandemic and the increasing climate and ecological crisis, we acknowledge working together as a community to be a vital act that we as citizens, activists and
researchers can do to imagine, cooperate, and grow our skills to cope with the transformations of the future. Our responses to the climate emergency can be demonstrated and experienced through simple and effective skill sharing and positive group dynamics. Commoning Kirklees is our attempt to respond to the need to share and support each other in rebuilding and reimagining the systems and institutions which govern our lives. It hopes to, in some way, provide a call to action for new and future local groups to work together and stand in their positions with confidence and ambition. Given the scope of the project, the booklet builds on exploration of commoning practices by the groups in Kirklees which we have further supported by also drawing from existing research which we have credited in the relevant sections. While making it we have met, discussed,
and debated with some inspiring people living in the UK and working to make their communities better. They not only inspired us thoroughly but also set examples to show what a group of active citizens can do when they come together for the common ground.  Tabassum Ahmed & Ioanni Delsante, 2022
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages70
ISBN (Electronic)9781862182134
Publication statusUnpublished - 22 Sep 2022


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