Our Mission: 

West Marin Commons is dedicated to the practice of community in West Marin.
We seek to establish, preserve, and enhance both common spaces and the life that occurs in them,
and to create social infrastructure for resource sharing, conservation, and learning.


Our Five Interlacing Project Areas

COMMONS CONNECT -  a website that serves as an online community nexus for West Marin

Our website was created to mimic an actual physical commons in our locale and has proven to be an important nexus of communication. Parts of the site are available to anyone on the internet while a virtual local commons is available to those who live and/or work in West Marin when they join as "registered users."

COMMONS SPACES – gathering places and pathways in West Marin

West Marin Commons originated from organized efforts to recognize, care for, and increase community gathering places and pathways in the towns, hamlets, routes that connect throughout West Marin. Through community walkabouts and regular gatherings we developed the Town Commons, Mesa Road Pathway, Livery Native Garden, and the Playground, all in Point Reyes Station.

COMMONS CELEBRATION –  celebrate the commons through seasonal, celebratory events 

We celebrate the spirit of community through seasonal, celebratory events. We sponsor Barn Dances at Toby's Feed Barn and Apple Pressings at local commons to recognize and raise the spirit of our diverse community.

COMMONS COLLABORATION –  work together to support the whole

Recognizing what we have in common, we collaborate with existing and emerging community organizations and initiatives. We function in an unincorporated area of Marin County where collaboration is key. Over the years we have partnered with local groups like Gallery Route One's Latino Photo Project, West Marin Collaborative, the Dance Palace Community Center, the County of Marin, and many others to lift up our local commons.

COMMONS KNOWLEDGE  -  learn about our commons

Knowledge and concepts inform our actions and there is plenty to learn and to make sense of to guide our actions. We have learned from local elders, our local historian, Dewey Livingston, and have gained a broad perspective of the commons from the writings of Jonathan Rowe, our co-founder as well as many others. Community land trusts such as our local CLAM, provide a model of community and land-based ownership of housing. 

History: How we came to be

West Marin Commons was born of a desire to foster a social complement to the scenic landscape and natural ecology that we in West Marin work so hard to protect. In particular, we have worked to create common spaces for spontaneous sociability and community activities; to cultivate native plants in a way that reinforces the symbiosis between inhabitants and habitat; and to establish social infrastructure for the sharing of rides, garden produce, tools and household stuff.

The organization began in the fall of 2006 as a series of gatherings in living rooms and public venues to discuss the concept of the commons and how it could enrich life here in West Marin.Then came a talk and slide presentation by Mark Lakeman, a founder of the City Repair Project in Portland, Oregon, which has led a commons revival in that city at the neighborhood level.

There was such enthusiasm after Lakeman’s talk that we set aside a day to survey the state of the commons in our town. (In Medieval times such surveys were annual events called “perambulations.” ) On a rainy Saturday in February, 2007, over 70 residents walked through town in small groups, to see our common spaces and places as they are, and to imagine how they could be. The groups gathered afterwards to share ideas;  and local architects took their ideas and, over the following weeks, rendered them in visual form.

The architects presented the ideas at another community meeting, and West Marin Commons emerged from this process. The early community brainstorming is an inspiration rather than a blueprint. We have focused on a few projects and we work with new opportunities and ideas as they arise within the capacity of our structure and community supporters.



West Marin Commons was a project of On the Commons, a non-profit organization,(formerly the Tomales Bay Institute) from its inception in 2006.  In 2014 the organization was incorporated as Commons Connect Inc., a non-profit, California Public Benefit Corporation. Application for tax exemption status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code was made and granted effective January 1, 2014.

Overall direction of West Marin Commons has been led and will continue to be led, by the key volunteers that engage in the different project areas.  The Board of Directors will be expanded to include representation of these different activities.

Founding members of the Steering Committee:
Elizabeth Barnet, Steve Costa, John Gouldthorpe, Ann Sheree Greenbaum, Madeline Hope, Jonathan Rowe.

Founding Board of Directors:

Mark Switzer (Chair), Elizabeth Barnet (Secretary), John Gouldthorpe (Treasurer)


Community Participants/Supporters

The commons embodies the values of community. The West Marin Commons has always functioned on an abundance of volunteer time –  in garden and pathway projects, resource sharing, barn dances and community discussions, to name just a few.

We have an ongoing need for volunteer office help, grant writing, graphic design, and the like.  If you would like to give some time, please contact us at info@westmarincommons.org.

Please donate to help support this ongoing work. Tax-deductible donations by check can be made payable to West Marin Commons, P. O. Box 127, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, or by debit or credit card using the Donate button below.






Founding Advisory Committee

  • Jim Campe
  • Jon Fernandez
  • Lyons Filmer
  • Ann Sheree Greenbaum
  • Sarah Hobson
  • Rae Levine
  • Chris Reding
  • Sim VanderRyn
  • Ron Wagner



  • John Gouldthorpe
  • Ann Sheree Greenbaum
  • Larry Cohen
  • Peter Barnes
  • Susan Brayton
  • Ignacio Chapela
  • Nancy Bertelsen
  • Jack Kramer
  • Maria Niggle
  • Gary Ruskin
  • Murray Suid
  • Christian Anthony






Online Forums

Commons Connect Forums provide a virtual gathering place to those who live and work in the West Marin Community. (Access to this local online forum is limited to those who work and live in the geographical area outlined here.)

A single registration allows community members to post local events on the Community Calendar, to post items of immediate importance on Alerts, and to access all of the forums including:

  • West Marin Soapbox: Campaigns, Causes, and Discussions
  • Over-the-Hill-Gang: Rides and Errands
  • West Marin Share: Reuse materials; share information and services -  a money free zone
  • West Marin Marketplace: rentals; things and services for sale
  • Tending the Wild Collaborative: An Ethnobiology Project
  • Local Food System Initiative: Food and garden related shares and information
  • Think Local West Marin: Appreciation and applause for our neighbors
  • Commons Connect Tech Support: Help with our Web site features
  • Volunteering Opportunities in West Marin: Help our local non-profits





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