Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slow Money Down. Shape a New Economy. Start with Food

can a grassroots movement seed a new economy? FriendsOfSlowMoney.com

Excuse me while I do something I've never done before and get 100% behind an idea that could change the world. OK, OK, maybe I'm exaggerating..or maybe I'm not. Who knows? Adam Smith's idea of a 'free market' changed the world. So you never know, Slow Money might just be the beginning of a paradigm shift in the way financial capital is raised and invested. It might just level the playing field between small-scale food entrepreneurs (i.e. farmers, processors, innovators) and the mega-corporations such as Cargill and Monsanto enough to give organic local peas a chance ..and other foods that are produced with a triple-bottom line return in mind (pardon the pun).

In the current paradigm, decisions made in the (not)free market are based wholly on the financial returns that can be achieved (usually by shareholders). The problem with this single bottom line system is that, in its pursuit of maximum profits, it externalizes the long-term costs of being efficient, of producing at mass scale, of transporting products around the globe, of producing 'value-added' products that are simply not healthy for consumers, etc. These externalized costs are being borne by the natural environment and society and include, but are certainly not limited to: soil erosion and salination, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, loss of virgin forests to agricultural land, massive green house gas emissions from production and long-haul transport of foods as well as increased livestock to feed meat-eaters demands (cows produce a lot of methane), loss of habitat for many mammals, fish and birds as land is turned over to agricultural use, poor treatment of migrant labourers to harvest and process food at cheapest rates possible, production and consumption of food products that are highly processed and high in fat and/or sugars, epidemic of diabetes, obesity and other lifestyle related diseases related to diet, disconnection of eaters from the land and farmers that feed them, decreased community interactions, food safety concerns (a McDonald's hamburger could have come from 1,000 cows), mistreatment of animals that are being raised for consumption, etc.

It's a long list. And it disturbs me that our current economic paradigm has encouraged the development of a globalized, industrialized food system that is healthy for absolutely NONE of the planet's inhabitants, for the soils of the earth or for the atmosphere that regulates Earth's temperature.

So, what's this thing called Slow Money and how might it change the world? Well, for starters, here are its mission and principles:

Slow Money's Mission

• To steer significant new sources of capital to small food enterprises, appropriate-scale organic farming and local food systems; and,

• To catalyze the emergence of the nurture capital industry— entrepreneurial finance supporting soil fertility, carrying capacity, sense of place, cultural and ecological diversity, and nonviolence.



In order to enhance food safety and food security; promote cultural and ecological health and diversity; and, accelerate the transition from an economy based on extraction and consumption to an economy based on preservation and restoration, we do hereby affirm the following Principles:

I. We must bring money back down to earth.

II. There is such a thing as money that is too fast, companies that are too big, finance that is too complex. Therefore, we must slow our money down -- not all of it, of course, but enough to matter.

III. The 20th Century economy was an economy of Buy Low/Sell High and Wealth Now/Philanthropy Later—what one venture capitalist called “the largest legal accumulation of wealth in history.” The 21st Century economy will usher in the era of nurture capital, built around principles of carrying capacity, care of the commons, sense of place and non-violence.

IV. We must learn to invest as if food, farms and fertility mattered. We must steer major new sources of capital to small food enterprises.

V. Let us celebrate the new generation of entrepreneurs, consumers and investors who are showing the way from Making A Killing to Making a Living.

VI. Paul Newman said, "I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer who puts back into the soil what he takes out." Recognizing the wisdom of these words, let us begin rebuilding our economy from the ground up, asking:
  • What would the world be like if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live?
  • What if there were a new generation of companies that gave away 50% of their profits?
  • What if there were 50% more organic matter in our soil 50 years from now?

OK, so this was enough to intrigue me when I first learned about Slow Money back in January of this year. And then I read the book by founder Woody Tasch, which offers more insight and inspiration regarding Slow Money. So by this time (mid-June), I'm hooked. I'm excited b/c one of my case studies for my grad research in Hardwick, Vermont and Vermont is a pilot state for Slow Money investment. So I'm going to learn more this whole concept in the coming months, but in the mean time I've found myself presented with the opportunity to show support for Slow Money with a VERY small investment of funds.

Here's the deal, which is the brainchild of Friends of Slow Money:

Starting Tuesday, October 6th 2009, thousands will join in seeding a new economy by contributing $5 or more to the Slow Money Alliance.

Make your pledge today using the form to the right, then return to this site and make your contribution of $5 or more on 10/6. You may also donate directly on the Slow Money Alliance site starting October 6th. The event will run for one week - 12:00am EST on October 6th through 11:59pm EST on October 12th.

Want to learn more? Want to CHANGE THE WORLD FOR $5?

Then do it here:

can a grassroots movement seed a new economy? FriendsOfSlowMoney.com

1 comment:

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