by Kris Holstrom
(editor's note: Kris Holstrom of Telluride's The New Community Coalition was privileged to attend an Inaugural meeting of the Slow Money group in Santa Fe recently. What in the world is Slow Money? Holstrom defines the idea in her own words.)
Slow Money? Think Slow Food for local economies. Slow Food asks us to slow down, appreciate local food and farmers, savor and enjoy the communal experience of sharing food. Slow Money is a new nonprofit. The driving principal behind the international movement is to bring money back down to earth. At the meeting, we talked about how to slow the velocity of our money, and create the means to invest money locally as ”nurture capital," a notion that appealed to a sustainability type like me who has often asked how we as a community can invest in ourselves in new and creative ways. For direction, I return to the mission of Slow Money: build local and national networks, and develop new financial products and services, dedicated to investing in small food enterprises and local food systems; connecting investors to their local economies; and, building the nurture capital industry.
The man behind Slow Money is Woody Tasch. In the 1990s, as treasurer of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and founding chairman of the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance, Tasch pioneered the integration of asset management and philanthropic purpose, and for many years, he was chairman of Investors' Circle, a network of angel investors, family offices, and social purpose funds and foundations. Tasch also authored a book entitled Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered, in which he asks why philanthropic organizations don’t invest their money in financial vehicles that actually support their mission. Many organizations invest to maximize return, all too often in companies whose business is antithetical to the non-profit's philanthropic mission.
Over 350 folks gathered at the Slow Money conference in Santa Fe to share visions, stories, requests for funds, and action plans. Speakers included Paulo di Croce, Executive Director, Slow Food International; Joan Gussow, nutritionist and author, This Organic Life; Tom Miller, former Head of Program Related Investing, Ford Foundation; and one of my favorites, David Orr, professor, Oberlin College; Judy Wicks, Founder, White Dog Café; Ann Wright, Deputy Secretary USDA; and Tasch himself, along with many others. Attendees were treated to panels of small farmers, policy makers, high level investors, unique entrepreneurs AND a delicious meal of local food, wine and spirits (from Peak Spirits in Hotchkiss – organic vodka and gin!).
The unspoken theme – and an all-pervasive feeling – of the meeting was hope, hope and deep-seated belief we can create a new paradigm for investors to invest in local projects. The economic tsunami we’ve experienced has made many stop and think there must be a way to bring our money ‘down to earth’.
Slow Money Principles drive the movement. Visit www.slowmoneyalliance.org to sign on. The movement is looking for 1 million people to say yes to the core ideas and, as with any startup, contributions to get things rolling. Go to www.friendsofslowmoney.com for more.
To talk further about Slow Money and potential ways to move forward for the benefit of the Telluride community, please contact me, Kris Holstrom, at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" or call 970-728-1340.
Slow Money Principles summed up
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?