Before a flourishing commons, exists a tragedy…

The “tragedy of the commons” (William Forster Lloyd, 1833) reveals that individual actions of self-gain from shared resources would eventually destroy the well-being of a society’s commons.

Undeniably, we are now living this Tragedy—this social paradigm fueled by oblivious and unhindered consumption.

Yet, are we willing to reverse our Tragedy of the Commons?

The real tragedy behind this parable is not about the commons, per se…

Common to the teachings of Greek tragedies, our Tragedy is also one formed by a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fundamental flaw in this consumptive paradigm is the belief that our commons can be commodified. Our physical home on Earth—the land we live on, the air we breathe; the water that cleanses, the food that nurtures—and our psycho-spiritual homes—our sense of self-worth, our dignity irrespective of our external wealth—are commodified to give narrative to a false sense of scarcity.


For what purpose?

Maybe only to perpetuate a belief in our collective consciousness that says we are not inherently worthy, and our existence is not innately priceless.

A Flourishing Commons is for those who want to be inspired, to know that our existence on Earth matters, and to trust that amidst personal and collective apprehension, there is still an essence to being human that is worth living for. It is a place where we learn how to be more human—to feel more deeply, to think more profoundly, and to live more open-heartedly—because when we are our most authentic human self, we are also our most divine self. When we recognize our own sacredness, we are then holding space for our most desired future.
In support of a flourishing world, our mission here is to help unveil the pains of our collective social-ecological traumas, share the poignant beauty of the world that exists eternally, and collectively heal through reflection, self-love, and conscious decision-making.

You are invited to consider a paradigm shift to re-envision your world.


  • Do you feel disheartened by our world’s rising social and political problems?
  • Do you feel secretly oppressed by our world’s hierarchy and systemic challenges?
  • Do you repress your true feelings in the face of increased political correctness, polarized beliefs, or other people’s discomfort with differing opinions because of a deep-seated fear of social abandonment?

If there is an ounce of truth to the questions above for you, then know that you are not alone. Your feelings of confusion, loneliness, despair, or apathy arise because of our collective amnesia to the true meaning of our common home.

The essence of the “spiritual” is the recognition that every element in the universe is interconnected. So despite all that happens in society, we are simply just trying to make home (“eco” from Greek oikos) out of our lives, collectively, on this planet. Therefore, each one of us plays a notable role in this making of the world.

But how “at home” are each of us in our social roles (as students, educators, designers, environmentalists, advocates, etc.)? More importantly, how “at home” are we purely as living entities? The Tragedy of our Commons is telling us that we may have neglected this primordial home of ours.

It’s time to return to love ourselves inherently as human beings. It’s time we took an eco-spiritual and self-loving approach to education, place-making, and social-advocacy.


A flourishing commons starts with a paradigm shift of how to BE in the world by . . .

Turning knowledge into wisdom

Not all bodies of knowledge are equal in our societies. Some knowledge are institutionalized and deemed valid. Some knowledge survive through resistance and stay on the sidelines. Some knowledge have been persecuted out of existence. Lurking beneath our modern world’s concept of objective-scientific knowledge is a fear of not-knowing. This fear creates a desire to consume more knowledge and build defensiveness to preserve an existing illusion of certainty.

This paradigm of knowledge perpetuates insecurity and separateness. Alternatively, knowledge without insecurity is the willingness to break through existing perceptions of the world.

We often need lived-experience to successfully break through old perceptions (because the mind is quite stubborn and textbook learning won’t cut through it).  As we are changed in the process of learning and understanding, we develop greater wisdom.


In a world of narratives that feed insecurity and unworthiness, we make a difference by turning knowledge into wisdom.

Tending to our inner and outer landscapes

As the ancient hermetic saying goes, “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” Although ancient wisdom reveals that our inner and outer worlds mirror each, conventional problem-solving approaches to social issues ignore our inherent enmeshment with the world. By treating world conflicts as “problems”, we unknowingly treat ourselves as problems too. We then constantly miss the mark, like a dog chasing its own tail.

Environmental activism aims to change our outer landscapes. But systemic entanglement in social paradigms of separateness, problem-making, and identity insecurity limit the individual’s potentials.

Alternatively, institutionalized environmental design professions such as landscape architecture and urban planning see the “landscape architect” and the “urban planner” as titles of identity and legality. But as a steward of nature and culture, and as the visionary of society, the “landscape architect” and the “urban planner” are sacred archetypes of our spiritual, pragmatic, and compassionate service to the world as humans.  A flourishing commons needs more of these archetypes manifested in everyday people to tend to our inner and outer landscapes.


Will we choose to use social and professional identities as defenses for our insecurities, or will we open our hearts toward collective flourishing by sharing our gifts to the world regardless of our titles?


Transmuting pain into beauty

Tending our inner landscapes means taking care of unkempt emotions and beliefs. However, human civilization has had a long history of aversion towards emotions. We generally avoid painful emotions and displace them with a pursuit for idealized happiness. In spite of this, repressed emotions don’t disappear. Instead, they foster nihilism and aggression. A social world that endorses narratives of scarcity, not-belonging, and unworthiness is deeply wounded. The pain of this wound lives in our collective unconscious.

We heal by witnessing pain with empathy. In-between suffering and healing are poignant moments of awareness, reminding us that there is beauty in learning to be human. To heal our society’s greatest wounds, this beauty inevitably must be greater than society itself. Found in nature—especially in our own nature—is a kind of faith that we must choose in, to flourish.


Consequently, to heal the world and to change it, we need to first love ourselves.


The seeds of change originate from each individual.

That means you and me.

How do you invest in your flourishing commons?


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Hi! My name is Van Thi Diep.


I am the visionary behind the story of A Flourishing Commons. I am an empath, a natural-born philosopher, and an idealist. That means, I feel the world deeply. Because I can intuitively feel people’s emotional pain, I make sense of the wounding through deep contemplation, in order to hold space for a better world. I hold a PhD in environmental studies and previously practiced as a landscape architect. To learn more about me and my services, click the link below.


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