Peter Barnes has opened the dialogue of the 21st century. He takes the traditional concept of the commons and marries it to the institutions of modern capitalism. In so doing he exposes those who take from the commons without paying, then make the rest of us buy back what we already own.
Carl Pope, executive director, Sierra Club
Peter Barnes is an entrepreneur and writer who has founded and led several successful companies. At present he is a senior fellow at the Tomales Bay Institute in Point Reyes Station, California.
Barnes grew up in New York City and earned a B.A. in history from Harvard and an M.A. in government from Georgetown. He began his career as a reporter on The Lowell Sun (Massachusetts), and was subsequently a Washington correspondent for Newsweek and west coast correspondent for The New Republic.
In 1976 he co-founded a worker-owned solar energy company in San Francisco, and in 1983 he co- founded Working Assets Money Fund. He subsequently served as president of Working Assets Long Distance. In 1995 he was named Socially Responsible Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California.
He has served on numerous boards of directors, including the National Cooperative Bank, the California State Assistance Fund for Energy, the California Solar Industry Association, Businesses for Social Responsibility, the Rainbow Workers Cooperative, Techmar, Redefining Progress, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Public Media Center, TV-Turnoff Network, the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, Greenpeace International, the California Tax Reform Association, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
His previous books include Pawns: The Plight of the Citizen-Soldier (Knopf, 1972), The People’s Land (Rodale, 1975), and Who Owns the Sky? Our Common Assets and the Future of Capitalism (Island Press, 2001). His articles have appeared in The Economist, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, The American Prospect, the Utne Reader, Yes!, Resurgence and elsewhere.
In 1997 he founded the Mesa Refuge, a writers’ retreat in northern California. He has two sons, Zachary and Eli; a partner, Cornelia Durrant; and a dog, Smokey.