Public Goods for the Public Good

Written by Anna Santoro, WLLC 2015-2016


The variation between public goods and the Public Good is a thin line, but when examined side to side both can complement each other in a way that supports greater overall understanding of service overall. One article defines the Public Good as “a search for harmony and understanding within contested and dissonant cultural spaces”. To me, this definition is a beautiful juxtaposition of two ideas, and serves perfectly to explain what it defines. When we serve the public good, we will always be dealing with a space that includes a huge variety of social and moral understandings, some of which will always be polar opposites. In order to serve our community, we must be able to understand these perspectives and work with them to highlight their differences in a way that will mix well. In order to do this, we must be willing to introduce methods and services that support everyone’s understanding. These public goods contribute to the better overall success of any service work or project, from teaching to volunteer work to a yoga class, to other methods. An article about public goods defines them as “things [that] do not lend themselves to [market] production, purchase and sale. They must be provided for everyone if they are to be provided for anyone, and they must be paid for collectively or they cannot be had at all”. Public goods are created to be used by and for everyone. It is a kind of communal beauty that exists in something to be shared by all. If we can learn to create things that will exist for the good and betterment of anyone and all who wish to access them, we will be able to better convene with the people we share experiences with. If we wish to serve the Public Good, we must do so through creating and providing public goods.




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