A year and a half ago when we spoke to Gar Alperovitz for our Braintrust series on thought leaders who have most influenced us at Capital Institute, he began the conversation by asking, “If you are not a fan of either socialism or corporate capitalism, what are your alternatives and how do you get there?” Gar’s new book, What Then Must We Do? and his film, The Next American Revolution, go a long, thought-provoking way toward answering those vexing questions.
I was honored to join Majora Carter, Eban Goodstein, and Elysa Hammond at the launch of Bard College's new MBA in Sustainability last week to discuss how finance has been a major factor driving our ecological and social crises and how fixing finance must be a part of the solution. The ideas I presented - an all hands on deck, bottom-up and top-down/systemic approach to sustainable finance - are at the core of a new finance curriculum the Capital Institute is helping Bard design. Below are the slides from my address. For more information on the MBA in Sustainability program, visit http://www.bard.edu/mba/.
Capital Institute fellow Liana Scobie has taken a job at the innovative company TerraCycle and has sent us these thoughts from the field on how their work is making a real diferences in the core areas of Capital Institute's focus - sustainability for a full world and a more equitable distribution of wealth.
Proof That It Is Working
On January 12, 60 employees at TerraCycle stopped their regular work to stuff 3,500 charitable donation checks into envelopes.
Field Guide to Investing in a Regenerative Economy: Evergreen Cooperatives
CASSE Issues Enough is Enough: Ideas for a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources - A Report from the First Steady State Economy Conference
The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) held its first conference, in Leeds, UK, on June 19, 2010, with a focus on finding alternatives to current models of economic growth. Featuring members of the Capital Lab-sponsored 3rd Millennium Economy steering committee Tim Jackson and Peter Victor, the conference brought economists, scientists, business leaders, government officials and the NGO community together to help mold the vision of a steady state economy.
While most global leaders and economists extol the virtues of unfettered economic growth, conference speakers made the point that the economy is a subsystem of the earth’s ecosystem and is a human construct. Despite these known facts and the recent global financial meltdown, exponential economic growth continues to be almost universally perceived as a desirable outcome.
August 2012 Update—Since we published our profile of Mark Pinsky and the Opportunity Finance Network, Pinsky has continued on at the organization's helm, deepening OFN’s commitment to supporting a stronger CDFI industry. OFN recently kicked off the “Create Jobs USA” program in partnership with Starbucks Coffee. Since its inception the Create Jobs USA fund has provided approximately $80 million to the nations’ CDFIs. The fund is managed by OFN and is comprised of donations made by Starbucks and CitiGroup. The OFN has also launched a Financing Healthy Foods project that focuses on educating CDFIs on how to finance and establish access to healthy, fresh foods in low-income communities. OFN has also started the Green Finance Program, which prioritizes financing energy efficiency renovations or retrofits projects. OFN has also begun offering CDFIs education on capacity-building including technical training, such as education on LEEDS certification standards and peer learning opportunities. A number of member CDFIs now specialize in green investment, and OFN hopes that these organizations will begin to provide insight and support to other network members who wish to develop expertise in financing in this sector.
Community Development Finance Leader Clifford Rosenthal Says CDFIs No Longer in Defensive Posture But Face Longer Term Pressures
July 2012 Update—Since we originally posted our interview with Clifford Rosenthal, the long-time President and CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, the CDFI industry has continued to face considerable challenges. However, it has also moved towards resolving many of its long-standing problems in the past 2 years.
When we spoke with him last, Rosenthal named the need for greater transparency, integration, and standardization as the three primary issues that the industry needed to address. The evolution of the industry rating system CARS™ , originally an extension of the Opportunity Finance Network, reflects progress made in the areas of transparency and standardization. CARS™ has been re-released as an independent entity and relaunched with a larger offering of analytic tools. These new products afford clients a more holistic view of a specific CDFI’s organization, function and proficiency. Many CDFIs have used their first-round CARS™ ratings to re-position their organization, and receive higher ratings in second-round ratings. The CDFI industry has become more standardized as organizations try to reach better CARS™ ratings levels. Issues of efficiency and integration are still being addressed, although integration is taking place within the industry with the establishment of centralized back office services for smaller CDFIs.
“To repair the fabric of cities, towns and communities while preserving the land around them” is the stated mission of Jonathan Rose Companies. It may sound like an unusually lofty, exceedingly idealistic goal for a real estate company. But Jonathan Rose Companies is more than about developing real estate.
Founded in 1989 by a third-generation developer who sought to mix his passion for real estate with his passion for making a difference in urban communities, every project of Jonathan Rose Companies is guided by five principles: First, to increase the diversity of the places where people live and work--mixing public spaces with residences, workplaces, marketplaces, and education and spiritual centers. Second, to build with environmental sensitivity using a combination of high-tech modeling techniques and practical, often low-tech solutions. Third, to support the integration of work life and personal life--as expressed by “livelihood.” Fourth, to be mindful of the linkages between projects, users and their surroundings. And fifth, to consider that change is a given for real property as it is for all things, and thus to recognize that development projects must be conceived to adapt to often unanticipated future needs.