The Commons Society (CSoc)
The Commons Society is a mutual aid membership Society that manages the relationships within and between an ecosystem of organisations. It has an ethos of purposeful, accountable activity that opens up a community space between public and private ownership that releases cash, creativity and contentment into its communities through a new economic architecture independent of government.
A Commons Society is more than a new business model for a single social enterprise. It is an economic network or civil ecology of for-profit and not-for-profit organisations and new institutions under a single umbrella whose architecture connects them together in a mutually supportive way.
A Commons Society offers a new paradigm that mixes the best of commercial business and public service. It is a network of organisations connected in such a way that enables them to collectively function as a community wealth management system. It is best thought of less as an innovative individual organisation than as a network and infrastructure within the free market that by nature of its design functions to enable enterprise to naturally perform in a socially beneficial way.
It uses the exponential forces of the market to expand and scale up by means of an Economic Development Fund, an embryonic Commons Bank, that purchases new companies into the structure. At the same time it invests in the social and environmental commons through an internal community fund called the Community Commons Foundation, which is supported through its hard coded virtuous circle of surplus distribution. The Community Commons Foundation is democratically managed by the members and curates, stewards and empowers a portfolio of civil society services to support the wellbeing of the members, the wider community and their environment. Consequently it can be thought of as a kind of commercial mutual provident society driven by the surplus of member companies rather than the savings of individuals.
The governance of the Commons Society manages the space in between its member organisations to protect their interdependence and maximize mutual benefit. It uses a combination of existing legal mechanisms to focus the energy of individual initiative and enterprise in building a stable self-regulating ‘domestic economy’ that may be local, national or international.
It is distinct from other mutual forms such as co-operatives or single social enterprises or even community benefit societies because of its systemic approach. Unlike worker owned companies that simply distribute and consume their surplus (for example John Lewis and Scott Bader in the UK), a Commons Society is a systemic engine for change because of its inherent structural logic which invests in the commons through built in mechanisms for expansion and stability.