Financiers have dirt on their hands. Thanks to the Slow Money Alliance, some of that dirt is now lovely and fertile soil.
As evidenced by the Occupy Wall Street movement, there is much distrust of financial institutions. After decades of big banks and investment companies criminally increasing profit margins at any cost, they are viewed with disdain and are justifiably seen as the root of many of our current economic problems.
But there is a wildly different and growing group of investors who want to use the power of money and the potential for business to create good. This group is the Slow Money Alliance. There’s so much to be said about Slow Money, but let’s start with a brief introduction. Akin to Slow Food, the philosophy of Slow Money involves backing local, pared-down and responsible business mindset. Slow Money principles encourage investment in enterprises that restore and nurture. Also similar to Slow Food, they propose investing locally within a 50-mile radius of where you live.
Possibly the most beautiful thing about Slow Money, is that they get the importance of healing our food systems and – wow – healing the soil. No. I didn’t dream that based on my passion for soil life. Honestly… I wasn’t studying Slow Money under the influence of hallucinogens. They actually propose measuring return on investment – among other things – on soil fertility. Other measures of success under a Slow Money model of business for good are job creation and ecology restoration.
The movement began with the publishing of Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money; Investing as if Food Farms and Fertility Mattered, by Woody Tasch in 2008.
“In the 21st century, investing is not only about markets and sectors and asset allocation,” states Slow Money Founder and former venture capitalist Tasch, “In a world that is speeding up and heating up, losing its soil and losing its sense of common purpose, investing is also about reconnecting and healing broken relationships. What could make more sense than taking a small amount of our money, turning in a new direction, and putting it to work near where we live, in things that we understand, starting with food.”
The group is focused on food systems first as a way to rebuild the economy. It’s refreshing to see money used to actually create something vital to humanity and the planet. Currently, much of our capitol investment goes into systems that are highly flawed or destructive.
Ari Derfel, the first executive director of Slow Money, explains that the vast majority of our investment dollars perpetuate broken economic and ecological systems on this planet and if we are to change, we need to invest in things that have intrinsic value, here, close to home, and let our money go to work over time. Here is a list of their principles.
Slow Money is not a small, off the radar group. Since their 2010 National Gathering, Slow Money has been involved in the investment of $9 million. Cited by Entrepreneur.com as “one of the top five trends in finance in 2011,” The Slow Money Alliance has 2,000 members, including many leaders in social investing, philanthropy and organics. 15,000 people have signed the Slow Money Principles, a new vision of finance that promotes soil fertility, diversity, care of the commons and nonviolence.
Since mid-2010, 11 local Slow Money chapters have emerged around the country and millions of dollars of has been invested in scores of small food enterprises, prompting ACRES USA to call Slow Money a “revolution” and Rodale to call it one of the top ten trends in organics.
I have the privilege of attending the upcoming National Gathering in San Francisco next week. Join me? If you can’t, join me vicariously here and on facebook and twitter.
Gardeners get the importance of soil. We have soil on our hands and in our hearts. We understand nurturing. Many of us grow our own food because we worry about food security. Slow Money is a natural fit for us.