Understanding the Commons
( display item 4)
Setup: 03-May-2012 
An important teacher about local governance is Elinor Ostrom, who taught political theory at Indiana University in Bloomington until her death on June 12 2012. (Here are some obituaries: the New York Times; The Economist; Business World; and Reason -- thanks to John Bowker for sending these).
Professor Ostrom shared the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009, for her work on “governing the commons.” In November 2010 seven of us (two from CELOS, five Toronto park staff) made the 12-hour drive in two cars to Indiana to meet with her. We brought along a list of ten principles of governance that we got from reading her work, and had a travelling seminar in the cars on the trip down.
When we got there, we found that Ostrom’s institute is called the “Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.” It has that name, Ostrom told us, because she and her husband, also a political scientist, both did a lot of woodworking during their summer breaks from the university. They built a log cabin on some land they bought on Manitoulin Island, and made most of the furniture. They liked workshops where people have to fit wood – or governance theories – together with care. Ostrom also told us that their cabin had no electricity. They had a generator to pump their water, and they adapted the water pump to run their computers and their printer as well. Then they sat down and wrote.
Ostrom’s writings, and these stories that she told us, made us think she was our kind of analyst. Here's a list of documents on this website that reference Elinor Ostrom. There will be more!