We spoke last week with Ted Howard, co-founder with Gar Alperovitz of the Democracy Collaborative and a key strategist of The Evergreen Cooperatives, the subject of our second Field Guide to Investing in a Regenerative Economy study. Evergreen is a remarkable experiment in anchor-institution-based cooperative enterprise, rooted in sustainable practices and dedicated to true wealth building in inner city Cleveland.
“We simply can't continue as if business as usual was the cheapest solution. It is not."
—European Union Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard
A recent New York Times article on program-related investing highlighted the $10 million equity stake the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation took in Liquidia Technologies. Some in the foundation world are concerned that the investment blurred the line between profit-making and charity. We and our Braintrust advisor Stephen Viederman say foundations should blur those lines—as long as they deploy their endowment assets when they do so. We would argue that foundations should use all of the tools available to them to meet their mission and purpose: grants, program-related investments and, most powerfully, their endowment assets.
Peter Victor–eminent ecological economist, winner of the Canadian Council for the Arts' prestigious Molson Award, and author of Managing Without Growth–challenges us to reframe our economic discussions to focus on managing material and energy flows rather than GDP growth.
An Innovative Funder of Sustainable Companies Seeks to Establish its Own Sustainable Business Model
Some people talk about impact investment. Some people dabble with their own surplus funds. Some commit. Sky Lance and Tom Balderston have selflessly committed not just funds, but their full-time professional efforts to lead this important, catalytic initiative that leverages the deal flow and community of Investors' Circle in the impact investment space. I recall encouraging Sky to make the commitment at a conference in Sundance (after dropping and breaking a wine glass almost on Robert Redford's foot—no joke). I told him how important would be the contribution he could make by investing his experience and leadership in this idea. My hope is that all the institutions now growing excited about the potential of impact investment will consider supporting, and investing in, as I do, the Patient Capital Collaborative. Few initiatives have the potential to move the field forward professionally and collectively as does the PCC under Sky and Tom's leadership.—John Fullerton, founding PCC Limited Partner
Gar Alperovitz—writer, historian, political economist, think tank founder, and one of the visionaries behind the Evergreen Cooperatives—talks about his life's work helping to prepare the ground for the systemic institutional and policy changes that will be required to broaden the ownership of capital in America and transform our throwaway cities into stable, sustainable economies.
Meet the Ranchers of Grasslands
Somehow I missed the release of a new collection of essays by Wendell Berry in 2010, What Matters: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth. The introduction is by Herman Daly, whose clarification of how scale limits transform economics remains the most important idea still not acknowledged in mainstream economics today.
DISPATCHES FROM BALLE
Accelerating Community Capital Day
At the BALLE conference in Bellingham, Washington, I attended the pre-conference Accelerating Community Capital Day. Considering that the content of the conference is local living economies and the conference this year is in BALLE’s home town, Bellingham, a major piece of the discussion is about place. Bellingham itself has experienced a huge cultural shift to local within the last 50 years that now permeates the town and has saved the economy. So, how do we analyze what our communities need and capitalize on local investments?