Category Archives: Movements

Stand with Standing Rock: Moving from Divestment to Reinvestment

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On December 15th, Regenerative Finance hosted a webinar to discuss how to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock as we move from divestment to reinvestment. The powerful #DefundDAPL movement has divested over $37 Million dollars, and this remarkable shift embodies an opportunity to redeploy capital in service of indigenous economic sovereignty. We discussed why a commitment to continuous learning about decolonization is crucial, different strategies for reinvestment, and our collective plans for ongoing learning as we work towards being invested in indigenous economies and movements for liberation. One form that learning will take is a praxis group of interested investors who will be supporting each other in moving money and deepening their commitment to decolonization work through a series of six video calls over the next few months.

You can explore the themes from the webinar through these slides: 

And you can listen to our conversations through this recording:

If you have more questions about our work deepening our commitment to decolonization or being invested in the Buen Vivir Fund, I encourage you to read this detailed overview and follow the paths of engagement described in this post by Ari.

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COCAP 2016: Redistributing wealth through impact investing

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cocap

Community Capital
Radical Redistribution of wealth through Impact Investing
Impact Hub Oakland  9/12/16

Kate and Ari from Regenerative Finance went to COCAP yesterday – the theme was “radical wealth redistribution through impact investing,” which was so exciting, because that’s what Regenerative Finance is all about!  COCAP was filled with many brilliant people and ideas–and, wonderfully surprisingly, for an event focused on impact investing, organizers Konda Mason and Jenny Kassan gracefully grounded the whole day in discussions of race, equity, and reparations.

Nwamaka Agbo (Movement Strategy Center‘s Next Economy Fellow) had one of the morning’s first keynotes, speaking about her family’s experience as Nigerian immigrants, and how to create an economy free of racism we need to create space for healing and wholeness.

Reparations are about making a community whole again.

She cited Bryan Stevenson: “People are hurt. You want to make them whole.”

2 questions she asked the audience:
What practices can we embody to unearth racism?
How do you see habits from the old economy showing up in the new economic movement and what can we do to shift that?

nwamakaNwamaka Agbo talking about how the new economy is being disproportionately shaped by wealth white folks who have the leisure time, disposable income, and risk tolerance. And these folks are repackaging indigenous societal structure in an extractive way. #notesontheneweconomy #cocap2016

Michelle Long (BALLE) gave a warm playful talk on changing how we relate to each other in order to create real economic change. She talked about love as expansion of the self to include the other (an idea from Charles Eisenstein).

Transformation is not like moving from vanilla to vanilla bean, or even vanilla to chocolate.  It’s like moving from vanilla to music.

She also shared that in order to move into a love-centered economy BALLE is creating a movement of “connection circles.” You can sign-up here and we were moved and inspired by Michelle’s warmth and are going to try out a connection circle here at Regenerative Finance.

PANELS

It was so special and sweet for Regenerative Finance to be a part of an all-woman panel, an incredibly powerful all-woman panel, on impact investing. Investors should check out all of these women and the organizations they’re a part of!


Kristen Hull, of Nia Community Foundation, talked about Marie Kondo (who wrote The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up) and tidying up our money. She shared a quote “Money is like manure–when you spread it around it’s wonderful, when it’s piled up in one place it stinks.” Kristen shared her strategy of supporting projects through loan guarantees as a way to leverage wealth and privilege, essentially taking a risk and signing up to cover losses in order to help businesses access more capital. Regenerative Finance is excited to learn more about that!

Dana Lanza talked about how we assume that rich investors are finance experts, but she has seen time and time again, with billionaires even, that there’s no rich-person-DNA-magically-making-us-financially-savvy. That wealthy people, along with everybody, need to learn to speak the language of finance. She asked women especially to challenge the patriarchy by building the “financial knowledge to be able to contend with the current power structure.”

investor-perspective-cocap2016

Nina Robinson spoke about the importance of helping entrepreneurs of color build wealth. She broadened the debate on reasonable rates of return and grounded it in the experience the entrepreneur. How can we support entrepreneurs as they succeed and build wealth for themselves, their employees, and their communities. She also spoke on the investing methodology of funding good jobs–how as businesses reach new benchmarks they incentivize certain business practices–like offering a lower interest rate on a loan if the business provides healthcare to their employees.

graphic-recordingMore from the graphic recording of #COCAP2016 by Jenny Seiler.

After lunch, there was a panel of entrepreneurs speaking about their experiences seeking funding, and different definitions of success. These women entrepreneurs shared that success might mean not opening a second restaurant, so the owners can travel to Mexico and visit family for the months a year.  It might mean having the agency to decide what to do with your life.  It could mean taking care of yourself or your family.  It doesn’t necessarily look like measures of success that are typically used to evaluate startups, like ability to scale, ROI, or an anticipated buy-out.

For investors that want to be in authentic relationship with the businesses they’re invested in, asking about an entrepreneurs’ definition of success is a great way to understand what kinds of investment terms are appropriate.

LAND

At Regenerative Finance we are asking more and more questions about land. Ari has led our collective in a decolonization study group, and we are continuing to ask questions about how to be in right relationship to land, as settlers and as investors. We were grateful to meet Brenda Salgado at COCAP, and learn more about her work connecting spirit, indigenous cultural reclamation, and movement strategy. At the end of the day Ari asked COCAP organizers to bring land into the conversation–you can read more about land as investment and regenerative finance in this blog post by Ari.

CLOSING

The closing panel, focusing on solutions that are actively radically redistributing wealth through impact investing. Rodney Foxworth of Invested Impact, talked about the importance of investing in African American entrepreneurs, especially at the friends and family earliest stages of growing a business. Jessica Norwood, of Emerging Changemakers network, spoke about the Runway Project, a new fund to support African American businesses in the early stage, and she pointed out how ridiculous it was to ask African American entrepreneurs who are coming from poor families to seek funding from their friends and family first. Rodney Foxworth pointed out that these early loans are given at a time and at terms that prove the investors care about success. He pointedly asked what it means when white wealthy investors only take a chance on their friends and family, asking “who do you think we should take a chance on?”

Much of the work we’re doing in Regenerative Finance is figuring out how to build organizational and personal relationships, so that we can invest in and trust in community-controlled loan funds. So that we can transfer power and capital to historically looted communities of color so that they can make decisions about how to allocate resources, so they can support emerging businesses of their friends, their family, their community.

Kate is headed to SOCAP tomorrow, so shoot her an email if you want to connect!

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Defund Police and Fund Black Futures

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Last week, beginning on what would have been the fourteenth birthday of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was murdered by police in 2010, protesters shut down police stations and unions all across the country. The Movement for Black Lives called for this wave of #FreedomNow actions to “create a future where Black children live in peace and possibility, not under a police state.”

 


In New York City, Black Youth Project 100 and Million Hoodies blockaded the entrance to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association to directly challenge the union’s ongoing role in defending officers who end Black lives. The protesters locked themselves together with chains and refused to move until they were arrested.

The protest happened just days after the second anniversary of a police officer in Staten Island choking Eric Garner to death. It happened just two weeks after a police officer in Brooklyn murdered Delrawn Small while he drove his girlfriend and children to the park to watch Fourth of July fireworks.

While Black Youth Project 100 and Million Hoodies have called for the immediate firing of Officers Daniel Pantaleo and Wayne Isaacs, these protesters believe that only taking action against individual officers once they kill Black people is not enough. Through signs, shirts, and song they made a broader demand, “Defund Police and Fund Black Futures.”


Police departments are not made up of good and bad cops, but rather are systems of racist violence that cannot bring safety to Black communities.
The contemporary police force is the direct descendant of slave patrols. Originating in South Carolina, slave patrols defended the economic order of slavery through returning and punishing those who were forced into bondage and dared to escape to freedom.

Last year, the white Dylann Roof slaughtered nine Black congregants during Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When officers apprehended Roof, they dressed him in a bulletproof vest, demonstrating deeper concern for Roof’s safety than that of the community he just unleashed terror upon.

Meanwhile, the day after police in Brooklyn murdered Delrawn Small, police in Baton Rouge killed Alton Sterling while they pinned him to the ground. The day after police murdered Alton Sterling, police in Minnesota killed Philando Castile while he complied with police during a traffic stop. Lavish Reynolds courageously livestreamed the murder of her boyfriend while her young child watched from the back seat.

Those most impacted by this racist violence are at the forefront of bringing about lasting change. They act from a deep tradition that dates back to and precedes Denmark Vesey, organizer of the 1822 slave rebellion and founder of the same Charleston church where Roof opened fire.

 

Those who are not Black still have an important role to play and a tradition from which to act. To demand justice for Philando Castile, white people and non-Black people of color in Minneapolis united together to shut down the city’s largest highway during rush hour and directed press to a Black spokesperson from the local chapter of Black Lives Matter.

 

In New York City, Regenerative Finance collective members Andrew Meeker and Jay Saper were arrested as part of a #FreedomNow action with Showing Up for Racial Justice that shut down the New York Police Department’s First Precinct. The solidarity action was called for by the Movement for Black Lives, who urged white people to “get your John Brown on.”


Just as white people and non-Black people of color are joining Black folks in putting bodies on the line, so too must those with class privilege show up with our full selves for the movement. Digging into our pockets should not be regarded as a substitute for taking to the streets, but very much a necessary complement to doing so. There were twenty two people in John Brown’s army that carried out the raid on Harper’s Ferry. There were also the secret six who funded the courageous act.

Today’s police and putrid economy are the product of yesterday’s plantation. We may not have chosen the hour to which we were born, yet at this hour we may choose how we respond. We can leverage our money for long overdue reparations.

We must stop this racist violence. We must defund police. We must build the world we need. We must fund Black futures.

Please reach out to Regenerative Finance if you are interested in making a non-extractive loan to the Financial Cooperative that houses the Southern Reparations Loan Fund. If you would like to make a gift, we encourage you to support Cooperation Jackson, a Black-led project building Black futures in Mississippi.

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Centering Racial Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty in the New Economy

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Reflections from CommonBound

I’m moved by the organizing that’s happened in the New Economy space, led by people of color, to center racial justice and the work of wealth redistribution and economic sovereignty in all facets of the New Economy. The New Economy Coalition provided buses for folks to go to the local Black Lives Matter protest, and they opened the CommonBound conference with a panel on decolonization, racial justice, and sovereignty. Racial justice was at the center of every single plenary, and many of the panels. You can feel the strong shift–it’s visceral, it’s immediate, it’s powerfull.

Transferring power

I was grateful to attend the Reinvest in our Power peer network gathering. The Reinvest in Our Power Network are powerful innovative allies doing grounded earth-shaking economy-shifting work. Regenerative Finance has been growing in partnership with the Reinvest in Our Power Network over the past two years. Organizers that have been instrumental in shaping and guiding us, including Sha Grogan-Brown of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation, and Ed Whitfield and Marnie Thompson of Fund 4 Democratic Communities, are leaders of the network and are doing powerful work to draw down resources and sink divestment capital into community-controlled radically inclusive funds. You should fund them.

IMG_8252

I was lucky to be a part of the panel on Democratizing Finance with Ed Whitfield, Brendan Martin, and Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan. You can watch it here, our panel starts at 6:46:57:

Resourcing community sovereignty

A highlight of the Reinvest gathering was that communities need funding to resource their economic development work. They need funding for infrastructure and building capacity, and usually they need this funding in the form of gifts and grants.

Where is this money going to come from? One answer is through impact investors, like the Regenerative Finance community. If impact investors stop extracting from the communities they believe they’re positively impacting, and instead return profit to community control, then we can fund community capacity.  If I want to help a poor black youth-led business in Philadelphia, and they’re running a granola bar company with very low margins, I don’t want to lend them money at 6% if they can’t afford it. They end up taking their profits and sending them to me, a white rich person, instead of paying themselves a living wage.

A second answer, highlighted in the powerful workshop on the Ujima Fund in Boston, is investment can be democratized by adding “need” as a component when assessing who gets what level of return. So that poor, working class and middle class investors can receive higher returns, while rich investors can take higher risk and receive lower returns. The panel on their transformation work starts at around the 30 minute mark.


A third powerful answer is reparations. Individuals, corporations, and governments paying reparations.

Reparations

I went to an incredible workshop on reparations led by Ed Whitfield and Aisha Shillingford of Intelligent Mischief and Beautiful Solutions. After Ed briefly and forcefully made the case for reparations, Aisha offered a design methodology and we broke into 8 small groups by sector (land/housing, finance, justice system, education, art and culture, philanthropy, international development, and business). The prompt was:

What are the ways the harms of slavery shaped this sector? How are the harms of slavery continuing today in this sector?

There are lots of photos of beautiful solutions for reparations that emerged, and here’s a snapshot of some of our finance post-its about how to work on the harm of predatory lending. I was particularly surprised and taken by the idea of creating a racial justice harm reduction assessment tool for financial institutions.

IMG_8243

Check out Intelligent Mischief’s Instagram for more of the collaboratively generated ideas for reparations. #intelligentmischief #beautifulsolutions #commonbound

Thinking critically about wealth accumulation

In closing, I wanted to share one neat activity that was part of the Divestment Student Network’s session on the Reinvest Network. We took an assumption that we come up against in our reinvestment work and flip it around. I ended up choosing “it’s normal to accumulate wealth,” and flipped it to “it’s violent and extractive to accumulate wealth.”

As we work to shift the narratives in the mainstream economy, and question it’s assumptions, it’s crucial for the new economy field to focus on the leadership of communities of color who are powerfully fighting for justice. I’m grateful I was able to attend Commonbound, and that the conference organizers centered racial justice and indigenous sovereignty. Until next time!

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Black Lives Matter to Regenerative Finance

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Regenerative Finance recognizes that the racial wealth divide has emerged through and is maintained by the extraction of resources from communities of color. We support long-term wealth building in communities most impacted by systemic racism through investing in Black-lead cooperative enterprises that have emerged from grassroots organizing.

We are partnering with Cooperation Jackson and the Southern Grassroots Economies Project to create financial mechanisms that do not profit off of inflicting harm upon oppressed communities but instead explicitly serve interests of people in these communities.

In Jackson, the rest of Mississippi, and throughout the South, those most marginalized in our present economy are at the forefront of a grassroots movement to build the next economy. Their efforts are grounded in a tradition of Black collective action built on challenging racism and building community power.

As a collective of young people with wealth, Regenerative Finance seeks to support a future that puts Black and POC leadership at the center of the next economy. We support racial justice through mobilizing capital and leveraging our privilege to help movements build a world beyond an extractive capitalist economy. Join us by investing with Regenerative Finance today.

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Jews Standing With the South

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On the 50th Anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer, Jewish leaders from across the country, including Rabbis and Civil Rights Movement Veterans, are responding to a call from Black Southern leadership to stand with the South by making a financial contribution to the emerging next economy movement. We believe the act of moving gift capital to grassroots organizations that provide technical assistance to emerging cooperatives is a crucial step to building the model investment portfolio we envision.

We invite you to stand with us in supporting Cooperation Jackson and the Southern Grassroots Economies Project!

Want to organize your community to stand with the south?

Email info@regenerativefinance.org.

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