Thursday, May 7, 2009

Slow Money

Tonight Josh and I had the opportunity to go down to the Ecology Center (Berkeley), and listen to Woody Tasch talk about his new book, Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as If Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered. The book (which I will soon be reading) is in some ways the large brochure for what he is involved with at the Slow Money Alliance.

This event seemed to be timely food for thought in regards to conversations Josh and I have had about root coffee. I asked Woody about how his organization's goals (which is focused on changing the way we think about money... and where we send it) fit into the world of small business entrepreneurs who want to remain local and small (thinking... Small is Beautiful here)? "Slow Money" envisions communities that have avenues for people to invest in their community... rather than invest in markets supporting systems that slowly (or sometimes quickly) erode (destroy) our very existence (yup, I said it). His answer was less about the structures that would be used to help those entrepreneurs, and more about the need to change the conversation... a conversation that would include not only how much money an investor can make, but also what kind of social return is that investor going to see in his or her community from that business.

One of the standout lines of the night was something to the effect of equating GMO (genetically modified) food, to the crazy financial derivatives that have caused so much damage in the current economy. Think about it... those derivatives were created to minimize risk and maximize return (yield)... just like GMOs were created to do the same for our food system. What will the global crash of the food systems look like if we experience the same sort of downward spiral? You can't print more food... SCARY?!? Yes. However, there are ways to begin to fix this... NOW! Go find a CSA ... by joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) you are investing in your local food systems. Problem solved. Ok, maybe not all problems... but it is a damn good start (and it will taste good too). The point is... know where your food comes from, know where your money goes... make your community a happier/healthier place to live. I don't know many people (ok, ANY people) who feel like they are safe, and/or taken care of by this current economy... we CAN have economies of scale (local, bioregional) that work with people (and planet) as a part of the equation (not just something to extract from). The idea of a Slow Money movement can help us create healthy (and even enjoyable) economies for our communities... go find a farm and help make it happen soon.

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