“People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change…It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future.”
—Desmond Tutu, April 2014
Invest Local, a program of the Staunton Creative Community Fund and funded with grants from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, brings to life one of the most important economic questions of our day: what if we actually invested in the world we want to inhabit?
Rejoining the Staunton Fund as an outreach and implementation consultant, Pine Knot Projects filled some of the following roles within this effort to move local funds from Wall Street to Main Street:
- Writing the Local Investing Toolkit
- Designing and launching the Invest Local website
- Planning Meet and Greets for local investors and entrepreneurs
- Holding educational workshops and training sessions
- Writing grants to launch the program, and
- Creating additional educational tools to support the ongoing growth of the initiative
It’s been a learning process, as the Staunton Creative Community Fund organizers have studied other Slow Money, LIONs and local investment models around the county.
As both a consultant and a whole person, perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of this project for me was reclaiming my own investments as part of the broader community discussion — including a long abandoned retirement account from my former days at the Urban Institute. Fully forgotten amidst Wall Street mutual funds, I learned a lot in the process of rolling into into a self-directed Individual Retirement Account and then using those funds to eliminate small business credit card debt and to install solar panels on neighbors homes.
This story, written by Karen Lawrence, is the history of our first small business Invest Local loan in Staunton, which got me out of Wall Street and her out of high interest credit card debt. We were, and are still, excellent friends.
In the words of Woody Tasch, founder of the Slow Money movement:
What would the world be like, if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live?