The Center for Labor and Community Research had reason to celebrate last week when we visited with them in Chicago to work on our next Field Guide to Investing in a Regenerative Economy Study. CLCR’s tactical expression, the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Campaign and its Austin Polytechnic Academy, had just been singled out for high praise in a study commissioned by World Business Chicago for their exemplary work in furthering advanced manufacturing in the city. What’s more, the study, co-chaired by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, entitled “Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs” listed “Becoming a leading advanced manufacturing hub” as number one among its “10 Transformative Strategies for Chicago’s Economic Growth.”
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.
Chet Baker’s warm, presencing voice and trumpet ushered in the inaugural event of Demos’ “Sustainable Progress Initiative” at the public policy research and advocacy group’s Manhattan offices on the night of October 6. The Initiative’s new senior policy analyst Mijin Cha and its director Lew Daly introduced best-selling author and economist Juliet Schor and her plenitude model, and the evening (which was cosponsored by the World Policy Institute) became an exploration of the model’s potential to free up Americans to be present to explore the dimensions of a more meaningful “livelihood.”
Schor’s latest book, released in paperback under the title: True Wealth: How and Why Millions of Americans are Creating A Time Rich, Ecologically Light, Small-Scale, High-Satisfaction Economy, describes the plenitude model, which calls for Americans to work fewer hours and reap the benefits of both “time wealth” and reduced carbon footprints. Schor reports that she wrote True Wealth as a solutions manual, sensing that Americans were yearning for an alternative pathway rather than a dissection of what we all know is a broken economic and social system.
Evergreen Cooperatives Videos
In May 2011 Capital Institute convened a meeting to support the scaling up of the Evergreen Cooperatives model as an activity of the Capital Lab’s Field Guide to Investing in a Regenerative Economy project. This video captures the shared vision and common intention of our gathering:
Field Guide to Investing in a Regenerative Economy: Evergreen Cooperatives
Field Guide to Investing in a Regenerative Economy: Grasslands
"Greenwich, CT, is a long way from the wind-swept prairies where ranchers Jim Howell, Zachary Jones and Tony Malmberg make their homes. But it is perhaps an early indication of how the capital markets' terrain is shifting that the three found themselves in the heart of hedge fund country recently, updating their investment partners in a custom grazing business who were as interested in rural job creation, carbon sequestration and soil enrichment as they were in how increased stocking rates and fatter cattle would enrich them financially." --From "The Grasslands Story"
The new documentary “The Economics of Happiness” draws attention to the ills of globalization in both the developing and developed world, and features a number of friends of Capital Institute, including Juliet Schor and Bill McKibben. The director, Helena Norberg-Hodge, a champion of the localization movement, is the founder and director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture. The film’s pro-localization message is a welcome counterpoint to the pro-globalization mantra we hear from most policymakers these days. However, the well-intentioned “relocalization” strategies that Norberg-Hodge highlights and promotes in this film are likely to provide neither the most effective nor the most realistic solutions in a world increasingly driven by the forces of globalism.
National Community Investment Fund (NCIF), a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), was established in 1996 as a nonprofit entity “to invest capital in and enable knowledge transfer to Community Development Banking Institutions (CDBI) around the country.” CDBIs are depository financial institutions that operated in low- and moderate-income areas and have as their mission to generate economic and community development impact. NCIF currently has approximately $150 million in assets under management including $128 million of New Market Tax Credits. It has invested over $24 million in capital in 45 US CDBIs. Seventy-three percent of these institutions are either minority- or woman-owned or managed, and 19 percent are located in rural areas. NCIF has also provided seed capital to six de novo banks.
August 2012 Update— In January of 2012 the CARS™ system was spun-off the Opportunity Finance Network and re-launched as an independent organization. CARS™ continues to focus on providing intelligence on the CDFI industry to investors of all sizes. The organization, has released new products in tandem with its independent re-launch and Paige Chapel has continued on as director. The new CARS™ programs include: customized analytic services, specialized financial trend analysis, training and webinars and subscriptions to CARS™ CDFI ratings database. These services enhance the ability of CARS™ to draw capital into CDFIs by facilitating connections between CDFI’s and investors, while increasing CDFI transparency. Mark Pinsky chairs the new organization. Pinsky had spoken of possible collaborations between CARS™ and the Small Business Administration (SBA); since the original posting of this article the SBA has decided to employ the CARS™ system in their lending selection process. Currently, CARS™ rated organizations manage almost 50 percent of on balance sheet assets among CDFI fund-certified loan funds.—Evan Lozier. Evan is Capital Institute's Summer 2012 intern.
Global Wealth Gap Indicators:
1. Only nine countries, representing four percent of the world’s population, have narrowed the wealth gap while for 80 percent of the world’s population the wealth gap has increased. The five hundred highest income earners earn more than the poorest 416 million people (Source: UN Human Development Report 2005).