A commons must arise from the personal engagement of commoners themselves. It is unavoidably the product of unique personalities, geographic locations, cultural contexts, moments in time and political circumstances of that particular commons. —David Bollier & Silke Helfrich, Patterns of Commoning
When we founded HowlRound seven years ago as a platform to amplify unheard voices and practices, we never could have imagined where we would be today. Today, HowlRound is the product of your unique personalities, geographic locations, and cultural contexts—HowlRound is manifested by those who participate. Last year we completed our first strategic plan and through that process, many things came into focus. We received two very important pieces of feedback: 1) we need to articulate our mission, vision, and values and more clearly describe what we mean by the term “knowledge commons,” and 2) we need to scale down our journal content to reflect the kind of dialogue we’re trying to foster and the impact we want to have. Many people were overwhelmed with the “fire hose” of content and felt they couldn’t keep up. Equally, people felt they couldn’t tell, in the overwhelming amount of content that resulted from the invitation to broad participation, what we stood for. HowlRound, participants were saying, needed to sharpen focus around our shared values and prioritize depth over breadth. We agree.
Over the past twelve months, the HowlRound staff has engaged in hours and hours of intense, rewarding, and occasionally agonizing conversation to arrive at a rearticulated mission, vision, and values. It is now our great pleasure to begin 2018 by sharing them with you:
HowlRound is a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide that amplifies progressive, disruptive ideas about the art form and facilitates connection between diverse practitioners.
We seek to democratize the arts by effectively modeling the transformative power of commons-based practice.
We value: generosity and abundance, community and collaboration over isolation and competition, diverse aesthetics, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility for underrepresented theatre communities and practices, and global citizenship.
You will find this information and more on our about page.
Once this new language was set, we began tackling the volume of content. We committed to publishing five pieces per week, down from eight-to-ten, and began implementing this change in November. We also added a new weekly digest in addition to our daily email.
This is how the community governs the content and how HowlRound functions as a commons: we invite everyone to participate and share the knowledge they have with the theatre field at large, whether that is through writing for the journal, livestreaming on HowlRound TV, or contributing to the World Theatre Map. Participants submit their ideas through an online form, and the HowlRound staff meets weekly to determine which contributions align with the organization’s values and mission—and to chart a course about how best to support and amplify each contribution to this commons.
It’s clear that in seven years, our commitment to the commons has intensified and the conversation we’re having has evolved, so our parameters for participation have needed to evolve as well. We used our mission, vision, and values as a compass and refined our guidelines for written and video contributions accordingly. Find all of our new guidelines and best practices on the participate page. We hope you will take a look and continue creating this commons with us in 2018.