UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


The IGP hosts the book launch of 'Free, Fair, and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons'

16 September 2019, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Fair Free and Alive

The Institute for Global Prosperity is delighted to host the launch of the book, 'Free Fair, and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons' by David Bollier and Silke Helfrich

Event Information

Open to



Annelise Andersen


Christopher Ingold Building XLG1 Chemistry LT
Christopher Ingold Building
20 Gordon Street

The Institute for Global Prosperity, UCL is delighted to host the launch of 'Free, Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons', a book by David Bollier and Silke Helfrich

The event will be introduced by Ruth Catlow, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Furtherfield and DECAL Decentralised Arts Lab, followed by presentations from authors David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, and finishing with a response from Dr Feja Lesniewska, Senior Teaching Fellow on Climate Change and Energy Law and Policy at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, SOAS, and Research Fellow at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy department at UCL.

This event is free and open to all. Please register on Eventbrite.

Book summary

From co-housing and agroecology to fisheries and open-sources everything, people are increasingly using "commoning" to emancipate themselves from a predatory market-state system. 

Free, Fair, and Alive presents a foundational re-thinking of the commons - the self-organised social system that humans have used for millennia to meet their needs. It offers a compelling vision of a future beyond the dead-end binary of capitalism versus socialism that has almost brought the world to its knees. 

Written by two leading commons activists of our time, this guide is a penetrating cultual critique, table-pounding political treatise, and practical playbook. Highly readable and full of colourful stories, coverage includes:

  • Internal dynamics of commoning
  • How the commons worldview opens up new possibilities for change
  • Role of language in reorienting our perceptions and political strategies
  • Seeing the potential of commoning everywhere

Free, Fair, and Alive provides a fresh, non-acadfemic synthesis of contemporary commons written for a popular, activist-minded audience. It presents a compelling narrative: that we can be free and creative people, govern ourselves through fair and accountable institutions, and experience the aliveness of authentic human presence.

David Bollier

David Bollier is an author, activist, blogger and consultant who spends a lot of time exploring the commons as a new paradigm of economics, politics and culture. David has been on this trail for about twenty years, working with a variety of international and domestic partners. In 2010, he co-founded the Commons Strategies Group, a consulting project that works to promote the commons internationally. More recently, David has become Director of the Reinventing the Commons Program at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

David's work on the commons takes many forms -- as an author and blogger; frequent international speaker; conference and workshop organiser; contributor to book anthologies; designer of courses on the commons; and advisor and strategist. David has hosted an educational film, This Land Is Our Land: The Fight to Reclaim the Commons; taught "The Rise of the Commons" course at Amherst College as the Croxton Lecturer in 2010; served an expert witness for the "design commons" in a trademark lawsuit; and contribute chapters to numerous book anthologies.

Silke Helfrich

Silke Helfrich is an author and independent activist of the commons. She is founding member of Commons Strategies Group. She was regional representative of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Mexico/Central America for several years, and was the editor of Wem gehört die Welt, and translator and editor of Elinor Ostrom: Was mehr wird, wenn wir teilen. She blogs at http://commonsblog.de

Ruth Catlow

Artist, curator and researcher of emancipatory network cultures, practices and poetics. Artistic director of Futherfield, a not-for-profit international community hub for arts, technology and social change founded with Marc Garrett in London, in 1996. Co-editor of Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain (2017); curator of the touring exhibition New World Order (2017-18); runs the award winning DAOWO arts and blockchain lab series with Ben Vickers, in collaboration with Goethe Institute; principal investigator for the blockchain research lab at Serpentine Galleries. Director of DECAL Decentralised Arts Lab, a Furtherfield initiative which exists to mobilise research and development by leading artists, using blockchain and web 3.0 technologies for fairer, more dynamic and connected cultural ecologies and economies.

Dr Feja Lesniewska

Dr Feja Lesniewska is a Senior Teaching Fellow on Climate Change and Energy Law and Policy at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, SOAS. Feja is also a Research Fellow at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) department at University College London focusing on AI, critical infrastructure and governance as part of the ESPRC funded PETRAS. Her current research focuses on the intersection between disruptive technologies, climate change and environmental law and governance. Feja's PhD was in international law-making processes in relation to forests based on fieldwork in China.  Feja has worked as a consultant to leading environmental NGOs on forest related law and policy including ClientEarth, the Institute for International Environment and Development and Forest Peoples Programme. She conducted fieldwork in West Africa, East Asia and Russia on a range of forest related issues including the illegal timber trade, community tenure rights and REDD+.