Elinor Ostrom

A powerful and moving tribute to the late Elinor Ostrom by the Grassroots Economic Organizing Collective :

“Lin Ostrom died on this past Tuesday, June 12th, but there is no tragedy in the loss. We certainly doubt she spent her time feeling tragic about her cancer.

Yes, there is real pain in losing her, but the reasons for celebrating are just as real and much more abundant.  Her life contributed mightily toward reversing a major tragedy for all species on Mother Earth—that profound mistake in thinking known as the ‘tragedy of the commons’.

A few of us here at GEO had the immense pleasure and great privilege of working with a team from the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University in Bloomington on the Collective Action issue we published a year ago this coming September. One of our collective members, Michael Johnson, also met her in Amherst, MA, at a dinner that the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives held for her. Everyone in attendance was impressed with her razor-sharp mind, but also charmed by her simplicity and down-to-earth graciousness. She may have known even then that she had cancer, as she continued working through the last year of her life until shortly before her passing. A rather impressive way to deal with the knowledge of one’s imminent death, no?

Another awesome message came from her relentless and joyful focus on what needed to be done to make the world better at all levels of her life. This seemed to free her from her being mired in that endless status-seeking in which so many of us are trapped in order to validate our lives to ourselves. Prestige seemed to be a big nuisance to her even as she turned it to the advantage of her work with a twinkle in her eye. Oh! that we should all be just a bit more free of that absurd Sisyphean effort.

Finally, her legacy includes a working community of scholars in deep solidarity with her at Indiana University and beyond. A stunning resource to pass on to all of us. Let us hope and help in any way asked that the ‘Workshop’ community deals with the huge transition that faces them with as much freedom from the nemesis of rivalry and status-seeking as is necessary to keep the Workshop on the course she and Vincent, her husband, set it on.

Her’s was an awesome life lived fully to the end. May we all continue to nurture her legacy.”

-The GEO Collective