iCommons announces a new project called the ‘Free Culture House’ project, recognising the growing importance of physical spaces in building the kinds of communities that will spread the global commons. The creative and information commons is by its nature a virtual and intangible thing, and having a physical space where people can learn from and talk to one another, becomes more and more important.
Last month iCommons announced a new project called the ‘Free Culture House’ project. Inspired by similar initiatives around the world, we have come to recognise the growing importance of physical spaces in building the kinds of communities that will spread the global commons.
After all, the creative and information commons is by its nature a virtual and intangible thing, and having a physical space where people can learn from and talk to one another, becomes more and more important.
The idea is simple and its sustainability is at its core. Buy a property (or rent something initially) that will serve as a space for members to meet and eat (a kickass wifi-enabled coffee shop), learn (a training room that doubles up as movie house), broadcast (a podcast studio) and work (shared office space and board room). Sleep rooms would also potentially be available for short-term stays by commuters who work between Johannesburg and Cape Town, for example.
At the same time, gather together a core group of founding members who will decide on the membership criteria, costs and responsibilities of members. The principle here is that each member should have something to teach other members, and that the House should be open to the community on regular ‘open days’ where members can reach out to the larger community to teach and advise others. Once a month, for example, members would be available to give free advice to non-profits on their technology and website strategy, to teach young people how to mix music, to help teachers to build open content for their students, and to advise artists, musicians and creators on how to use open licences and collaborate with artists around the world.
The House will be established with the help of sponsorships and will be maintained by membership dues, rental of the coffee shop and venue rental for training etc. Its founding documents will ensure that the House remains a centre for learning and networking to build a free digital culture, and all activities will need to be approved by the House Committee. Targeting bloggers, web developers, software engineers, researchers, journalists and marketers, the House will also serve as a repository of specialised knowledge management skills that could be employed by companies, NGOs and government departments for developing websites, information campaigns and copyright licensing strategies.
Once this Free Culture House has been established, others could be set up using similar models. All documentation and plans will be open to others to use, and a system would be established to link Free Culture Houses in different parts of the world.
A working group has been established with interested parties in four continents.