People (block 6)

Identifying who is in the community needs careful thought. Firstly, a community can consist of several overlapping circles of people. Some circles may be more inclined to participate in ownership than others. It can be helpful to visualise these circles as people standing in a circle; they all have a context they share, probably shared values but most importantly a shared intention.

Continue reading “People (block 6)”

Main Assets: Land and structures (Block 1)

People are discussing Alternatives to business as usual in all corners of the world. And there are examples of initiatives that have been operating on successfully many years. More and more are questioning whether they should be customers at all, looking to explore the possibilities of being part of communities that both own the means of production and produce and consume what they need. After all, the only company that really has your interests in focus is the one you own part of. The commons finance canvas tool helps communities develop their ideas and structure them to provide a basis to be able to answer key questions like” how much do we need to invest”,” How much work is involved”,” Can we do what we want within budget”,“who can do what”, “How can we best organise ourselves?”.   The canvas offers you a structured way to explore your ideas and arrive at a point where you can produce a written prospectus and business plan and come to agreement with everyone in the community.

The starting point is a vision of what it will look like when it is finished and working the way you want it to. You can use an existing project or start with a dream. Continue reading “Main Assets: Land and structures (Block 1)”

Updating the Objects Template

When you have worked through the activities needed to produce the service your commons members will be enjoying, it is time to start some quantifying work, and here the Objects Template can be useful. You can download the template as a word file or create your own excel document. For smart budgeting purposes, you can have one excel sheet per Object group. If you do this on paper use sticky notes because there will probably be quite a bit of rearranging. Continue reading “Updating the Objects Template”


As you go through the canvas it is good to review your progress and test your ideas.

After each block.

  • Use the check-list we provide  for each block of the canvas.
  • Park anything you are unsure of on a separate questions sheet or whiteboard.

After the first round.

When you have completed all eleven panes you might want to use Elinor Oströms principles to check your design. Check that what you have come up with aligns to her principles.

8 Principles for Managing a Commons

1. Define clear group boundaries.
2. Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions.
3. Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.
4. Make sure the rule-making rights of community members are respected by outside authorities.
5. Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior.
6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.
7. Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution.
8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system.


When we start to work with the infrastructure block we should have already identified the main assets that the commons shares and the main services that commons members will benefit from.

Note: this is a first working draft. Do use the comments below with any suggestions for improvement or if anything is unclear


The next step is to identify the infrastructure  (buildings, equipment, software, tools etc.) needed to provide these services. Quantity and not quality is OK at this stage, so brainstorm and create a rough list of what you think will be needed. Don’t worry either about whether you should purchase the equipment or if someone else should use it. Continue reading “Infrastructure”

Designing the operational model of your commons initiative

A Financial Permaculture approach

What is the difference between a company and a community?

A community is a group of people who work together around a common intention and shared assets to create services for themselves, often in a resilient way. In contrast, a company is a group of people who put money into the organisation in order to get money out. Continue reading “Designing the operational model of your commons initiative”

Introducing the Commons Finance Canvas

How can we create alternatives to the current system that:

1. Protect collective resources, both material and immaterial, that require a lot of knowledge and know-how?
2. Develop social processes that foster and deepen thriving relationships?
3. Produces in, as Commoning expert Silke Helfrich calls it, a Commons-Creating Peer Economy, or Commons-Oriented Economy?

Commoning is less a noun than a verb because it is primarily about the social practices of commoning—acts of mutual support, conflict, negotiation, communication and experimentation that are needed to create systems to manage shared resources. This process blends production (self provisioning), governance, culture, and personal interests into one integrated system. Continue reading “Introducing the Commons Finance Canvas”