[Cross-posted from New Books in Journalism] The Canadian author and scholar, Heather Menzies, has written a book about the journey she took to the highlands of Scotland in search of her ancestral roots. In Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good: A Memoir & Manifesto (New Society Publishers, 2014), Menzies outlines her discovery of a vanished way of life and argues that restoring it would help North Americans recover a deeper sense of self as well as more satisfying social relations with the people around them. It could also help them gain more control over political decisions that affect them in their communities, states and provinces and at the national level.
“Commoning –cultivating community and livelihood together on the common land of the Earth,” Menzies writes, “was a way of life for my ancestors and for many other newcomers to North America too. It was a way of understanding and pursuing economics as embedded in life and the labor, human and non-human, that is necessary to sustain it.” She maintains that reclaiming the commons could also help us to heal an overheating planet and reconcile with the native peoples displaced by European settlers.
Heather Menzies is an adjunct professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. She is the author of 10 books and has been awarded the Order of Canada for her contributions to public discourse.