Learning to Common, Commoning as Learning

The Politics and Potentials of Community Land Trusts in New York City


  • Hillary Caldwell The City College of New York, City University of New York
  • John Krinsky City University of New York
  • Mikael Brunila University of Helsinki
  • Kukka Ranta




commoning, learning, community land trusts, contradictions;, Cultural-Historical Activity Theory


Through a study of a coalition to promote community land trusts in New York City, this article asks how collective learning unfolds in the context of activism against gentrification and displacement. Drawing on Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), we illustrate how the coalition develops as it confronts the contradictory nature of commodified land and housing and navigates the contradictions and other challenges entailed in the process of commoning. Understanding this as a learning process is critical to understanding the politics of urban commoning practice and of particular approaches to it such as community land trusts (CLTs).

Author Biography

Mikael Brunila, University of Helsinki

Mikael Brunila is now a PhD student in geography at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


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How to Cite

Caldwell, H., Krinsky, J., Brunila, M., & Ranta, K. (2019). Learning to Common, Commoning as Learning: The Politics and Potentials of Community Land Trusts in New York City. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 18(6), 1207–1233. https://doi.org/10.14288/acme.v18i6.1763