Featured People: Silke Helfrich

Silke Helfrich

Silke Helfrich

The critical examination of the commons is a key to understanding social conditions. Every society must at any point of time define this term for itself.
— Silke Helfrich

Silke Helfrich is an author and independent activist of the Commons. She is founding member of Commons Strategies Group and is the editor of several books on the Commons. 

Forty-nine per cent of the seed market is concentrated in the hands of only four companies, five companies control 90 per cent of the copyrights in the music industry, [...] Whatever area we look at, we are confronted with concentration — of control, money, and power. These processes of concentration have an immediate impact on the rights of use of everyone and on the vitality and diversity of the commons.
— Silke Helfrich on the notion of commons

As David Bollier explains in this P2P Foundation discussion, the commons makes sense to Helfrich because it gets beyond the classic division of haves and have-nots, of owners and non-owners, and of public and private. Helfrich says that  “The commons is about the missing third element — people as active participants, co-owners and citizens in their communities, people with relationships of responsibility toward each other and the resources that we all share together." 

On 23 April 2015, Silke Helfrich will give the keynote speech at ECF's Towards a European 'Mienskip': A Public Debate about the Future of Citizens in Europe where she will discuss the following points:

  • What are the most important societal challenges in Europe regarding regional development (urban –city), culture and economy (employment), where communities are taking matters into their own hands?
  • What are the most important political challenges: what are the changing roles and relations between government, citizens and market?
  • How to react: a real cultural paradigm shift is needed: the 21st century as the co-century of the commons, collaboration, community, communication, co-design, co-management.     
...in order to recreate constantly the world, we need to cooperate, we need to work together. There is no other way.

In the video interview below she did for the Elevate Festival 2014, Silke Helfrich talks about what the commons mean, the need for it as well as on the challenges and possibilities in creating it.  

The process of commoning is something that requires time, a free space, [...] a core belief that co-creating things will lead to better outcomes for everyone and will create a diversity we see in the natural world...

More ressources: