Return of the Commons!
The Goldman Environmental Prize and the activists who have received the award since 1990 are re-establishing is the concept of "The Commons" -- an idea we forgot, but which is re-emerging around the world now. The Commons means that clean air, water, and access to arable land are rights that belong to everyone and cannot be confiscated for private profit!
The Return of the Commons is in line with "Ubuntu" (cooperation vs competition). Ubuntu as an alternative to rapacious capitalism that is destroying the Earth. The Enclosure of the Commons (described further below) established capitalism and a host of problems that plague us today.
Environmental activists like the winners of the award are re-defining not only the concept of "power", but also of "knowledge". Who knows what is "best" for the community -- corporations, politicians, and co-opted academia, etc -- or the people whose lives are most affected by their decisions? This movement is returning the West to the values held since time immemorial by indigenous peoples around the world because we must shift to these values now to survive.
Video: Enclosure of the Commons
Author Raj Patel shows in the video below that the idea of The Commons was lost first in England in the 13-18th centuries as the common (shared) lands on which people depended for survival were enclosed by the aristocracy and kings. That forced people off their lands and into crowded cities to work in factories in horrific conditions-- as documented in books by Charles Dickens or work as indentured servants. Some emigrated to America. Karl Marx proposed "Communism" as a remedy for rapacious capitalism. However, the Return of the Commons is the real solution.
See The Roots of Capitalism further below. Click the graphics below to watch the video.
The Roots of Capitalism
The Enclosure of the Commons was the start of capitalism and the market economy which began by selling food as a commodity rather than using it as a means of survival. That meant then and today that people who have money can eat well and those who don't are undernourished or starve. Enclosure led to many problems over the last 500 years including land as commodity (real estate), materialism, division of humanity into classes (poor, middle class, rich), class warfare.
Enclosure led to white supremacy (as a distraction from class warfare), patriarchy, monogamous marriage, prostitution, witch hunts, the Inquisition, colonization, genocide, empire, slavery, capitalism, industrial revolution, mechanization of crafts, schools, hospitals, assembly lines, rents, wages, long working hours, prisons, courts, corporations, globalization, pollution of rivers/lakes, deforestation, destruction of soils, a billion people going hungry while there is enough food, etc.