What is The Commoner’s Fayre Idea?
The Commoner’s Fayre is a skills, information and resource sharing network that facilitates the organising and running of community events. Commoner’s Fayre uses Open Source (see definition below) and participatory governance structures to organise all aspects of those events. In this way communities are helped to get their event organised and at the same time encouraged to explore and use systems of participatory democracy. The goals of the community are met, community bonds are strengthened and inclusive dialogues, about new ways people can collaborate together, are opened.
The skills, information and resources of each Commoner’s Fayre event will be made freely available online via a wiki-type website. This enables anyone to access practical information about organising their own event. As more events happen and the network grows so more information and resources become available.
The Commoner’s Fayre is all about communities learning how to create their own free social spaces and gatherings, and in doing so, strengthening the bonds between people. It is about social inclusion and making connections across social and cultural divides, encouraging an atmosphere of mutual support and learning.
The Common’s Fayre will start on a small local level, helping communities in both rural and urban areas organise their own events. These events (which include people from all sections of society) can be anything from a village fête to a crafts fair, a skateboard jam to a barn dance – whatever the community would like to happen.
The events can be held to celebrate any number of occasions – or purely to celebrate the achievement of the community working together – a celebration of community, for community’s sake.
Examples of mutual support and inclusion might involve the elders of the community helping teenagers organise their own skate park music and dance event – and the teenagers getting involved with staging a social gathering for the elderly. Of course these might not be organised separately – both being part of a wider event that caters for all. The Commoner’s Fayre promotes a holistic approach to community building.
The Commoner’s Fayre will create an online public library of contacts and information. This will compile collective experience and wisdom so as to enable others to organise their own social gatherings.
The Commoner’s Fayre will use a meritocratic Open Source type structure of governance. This will ensure that principles of equality, cooperation and consensus are adhered to throughout the organisation as well as building an active and evolving network. The meritocratic model recognises people’s effort and contribution to both the Commoner’s Fayre project and events, by giving them more of a decision-making role in the organisation. Contributors will be acknowledged and achievements celebrated. Contributors will also gain satisfaction from engaging with creative challenges, the mastery of new skills and the pleasure and kudos of contributing to the well-being of the community.
By working towards a shared goal, disadvantaged groups and individuals are helped into the community rather than separated out of it. The shared experience of organising and staging such events could help otherwise isolated or fragmented communities establish new and productive relationships as well as give people a renewed sense of involvement and ownership of their environment.
Within this framework, participants (whether involved in local events or in the wider online network) will learn and share many new skills, including organisational skills grounded in participatory forms of governance. Opportunities for cultural exchange, education and stronger community bonds will be maximised.
What is Open Source?
The term Open Source has its origins in computer software design but has now extended into many other areas to include more general systems of organisation. Originally Open Source meant that a software designer freely shared his or her ideas so that others could collaborate on its development and freely adapt and improve it. This method differs from the proprietary system where ideas and designs are owned and protected by patent or copyright laws. Once such an idea is locked out of the public domain it cannot be freely shared or worked on – development can be impaired and innovations missed or stifled. In contrast Open Source ideas, designs and structures, are openly shared and development and improvements encouraged.
Open Source governance is an adopted structure of organisation which advocates the application of the philosophies of the Open Source movement to democratic, meritocratic and cooperative principles in order to enable any interested person to add to the creation and evolution of policy – as with a wiki-type document. Organisational structure is opened to the general community, employing their collective skills, wisdom and experience, to benefit the decision-making process and improve on the democratic system and the systems used to organise particular projects. In this way The Commoner’s Fayre uses similar collaborative and transparent structures of organisation throughout its network and in the running of individual projects and events.
The Travelling Bandstand Concept
The Travelling Bandstand will be the first of a few key designs for event infrastructure. Such infrastructure will include mobile (flat-pack) bandstands/stages and marquee tents. The designs for such structures (which will comply with all health and safety regulations) will be sturdy, lightweight, adaptable, affordable and easy to build. All blueprints will be available for free download on The Commoner’s Fayre website. Thus the ‘bandstand’ concept travels from community to community.
The Commoner’s Fayre project is about building a face-to-face and online community of people keen to help organise, participate in, and/or help find resources and contacts for social community events. Everyone’s contribution is valued.
In the true spirit of Open Source, Commoner’s Fayre is dedicated to transparency, sharing information freely, social inclusion and community collaboration. It’s also dedicated to staying open to new ideas and innovations, to continually experiment, evolve and improve.
Still very much in its embryonic form, the idea is open – and will stay open. If you’d like to help nurture and grow this idea, please get in touch.
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