11 November 2008

Elevate the Commons - Graz, Austria

I will elaborate upon this later, but for now, a brief recap of the Elevate Festival these last few days in Graz, Austria, as told by David Bollier (onthecommons.org). Many thanks to the organizers and my fellow speakers for this robust discussion and diverse array of voices included in this discourse.

The main part of the event was held in Schlossbergplatz, between the Stadtmuseum and the Dom im Berg (where the panel described below took place). This was one of the most interesting events I've ever been asked to speak at, with discourse during the day covering commons of the mind (digital commons as we largely think of it), and commons of the earth - or more specifically the material commons (land, air, water, oil). Also ... there were over 100 musical acts at night over the 3 or 4 nights, all techno, electronic, DnB, remix / mashup, house etc. All performing between 3 spaces in a mountain (pictured below), spaces dug out in the mountain by P.O.Ws during WW2 where thousands of Austrian hid during air raids. What a backdrop ... More to come later. In the meantime, a photo of the outside of the hill, and a pointer to David's detailed write-up.

The Commons Comes to Schlossberg Hill

A memorable evening at the Elevate Festival in Graz, Austria

8 Nov 2008 / David Bollier

“You just walk into the mountain,” I was told. And so I walked up to Schlossberg, a large hill that overlooks the city of Graz, Austria, and into a tunnel carved out of sheer rock that extended dimly into the distance. I stepped gingerly onto the metal grating that formed a inclined walkway, and proceeded in amazement for more than 100 yards. The air had the sharp tang of rock dust. I came to a huge open space – a 150-foot “auditorium” with a 40-foot ceiling – again, carved out of sheer rock.

I had arrived at Dom Im Berg, the main venue of the annual Elevate Festival, a four-day gathering for indie music and political culture that this year is devoted to the commons.

Interest in the commons has been gaining some momentum in Austria and Germany. Some two-thirds of the conference speakers are from those nations, and a number of regional and national media were covering the event. Falter, a national weekly that has a resemblance to the Village Voice of New York City, interviewed me, and devoted another page to DJ Spooky (a.k.a. Paul Miller), the remix artist and cultural philosopher.

On Thursday evening, a panel of five of us talked about some of the basic issues facing the commons today. It was a lively affair with an audience exceptionally well-informed about the commons and filled with pointed questions. As a participant, I couldn’t take notes, so here is my recollection of the fascinating two-hour session. [...]

More after the jump ...

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