The Daily Dirt

Why we need Slow Money

If you’re reading this on the Georgia Organics blog, chances are you’ve at least heard of Slow Food. But what about Slow Money?

Slow Food’s guiding principles can be found in full here, but the organization is guided by three main things:

  • 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? (Editor’s note: Soil fertility is a metric! This is awesome!)

So that’s the gist — they want to compel a new generation of investors to take their money out of Wall Street and into endeavors that will strengthen their own communities. Slow Money’s name is certainly a nod to Slow Food, but Tasch said he also took inspiration from this quote from David Orr’s The Nature of Design : Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention:

There is an appropriate velocity for water set by geology, soils, vegetation, and ecological relationships in a given landscape. There is an appropriate velocity for money that corresponds to long-term needs of whole communities rooted in particular places and the necessity of preserving ecological capital.

Last night Slow Money’s founder, Woody Tasch, spoke in Atlanta. Before he took the stage, our Executive Director Alice Rolls spoke briefly about how important innovation in business is to our goal of good food for all. As the Georgia Organics mission statement says, we connect organic food from Georgia farms to Georgia families, and enterprise is increasingly a part of making those connections.

gpigraph07Redefining Progress has a chart that illustrates how unprecedented economic growth hasn’t resulted in increase quality of life. (They’re done this by juxtaposing GDP with GPI, or Genuine Progress Indicator, which “adjusts for factors such as income distribution, adds factors such as the value of household and volunteer work, and subtracts factors such as the costs of crime and pollution.” (As Tasch mentioned, Robert F. Kennedy had some great thoughts on the GDP and what it actually measures.)

“Money is rushing out of communities and into smokestacks in China so fast nobody knows what it’s doing,” Tasch told the crowd. “Where is your money, and how is it affecting other living things on the planet?”

To that end, there are several Slow Money chapters around the country and even the world, and they’re investing in projects that support good food and good farms. Slow Food Maine invested $125,000 in Northern Girl, a company that processes surplus crops; in North Carolina, five Slow Money members loaned $30,000 to invest in the state’s first organic cotton crop.

On Oct. 22, Slow Money is launching Gatheround, a live online event that will allow potential investors from around the world to hear from several early stage food entrepreneurs who are seeking funding. It’s an interesting idea and an interesting model, and as Slow Money gains steam here in Georgia, we’re excited to see what the future holds for our farmers and food producers.

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