While I was searching for images of life in the soil, I came upon the following on Sweet Bay Farm’s website (see above). They’re working to restore soils depleted by decades of monoculture—the continual cultivation of a single crop, in this case tobacco—so this picture of several earthworm tunnels in a clod does not yet suggest anything teeming.
As surely as a home is far more than a house, the place where I live is far more than a street, a town, a county, a country, a zip code, or an IP address. I don’t live in the land of politics or the realm of economics. I don’t live inside the Beltway or in Nasdaqland or Kazakhstan. I don’t live in cyberspace.
A few years ago, I got a call from New York Times reporter Ron Lieber, who writes for the Your Money column. “My next column,” he told me, “is going to be called ‘Investing For The Truly Fed Up’. I can’t tell you how many folks I hear from who don’t want to invest in the military or sweatshops or tobacco or gambling or nuclear power, and now there’s a whole new wave of folks who are adding fossil fuel to the list.
Our food system’s successes and spectacular failures account for nearly one trillion dollars of US GDP, yet the media spotlight is usually reserved for the sexier tech and financial sectors. I hear regularly about growing populations, water shortages and rapidly changing international trade policies, and still, food and its ancillary industries seem to be taken as a given in the American economic schema.
Henry David Thoreau lived 200 years ago, but his influence continues, inspiring the likes of Tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., E.F. Schumacher, Wendell Berry, and Bill McKibben, to name an illustrious few.
We can’t all be Noam Chomsky or Ayn Rand or Wendell Berry or Bingo Pajama,¹ but that doesn’t mean each and every one of us can’t get the hint. We need a new story. Maybe even a new myth. We need to rediscover imagination.
The world of investing abides by various rules. Some are defined and articulated in formal legislation and regulations, while others are based on customs, common practices, and opinions expressed by jurists in court cases. The expectation of “prudence” in financial management is one such case.
The idea was simple at the beginning, back in 2006: find a fund in which my clients could invest their money that would finance farms and businesses involved in sustainable agriculture.
Don has served as President & CEO of RSF Social Finance since 2007. He has been a social entrepreneur for many years, growing an education business, a software company, and a sporting goods manufacturer, in addition to the nonprofit Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. Don and the team at RSF are constantly asking the question, “How can we model financial transactions that are direct, transparent, personal, and based on long-term relationships?” Under Don’s leadership, RSF’s total assets have grown to over $160 million.
The impulse to write today comes, as it did a few weeks ago, from two news stories. The first is from Bloomberg, which reported yesterday on mistaken stock trading orders to the tune of $617 billion—yes, that’s billion with a “b”, just like it’s trillion with a “t” when we are talking about the cost of wars and hundreds of “t’s” when we are talking about the cloud of derivatives that blankets the financial heavens.