The one-two punches of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy have spurred cities throughout the northeastern United States to invest in more reliable backup power systems. These “Resilient Power” initiatives reduce reliance on generators (which too often fail when fired up) in favor of more resilient solar, fuels cells, and power storage systems that can provide benefits between outages as well. A new Resilient Power Guide from the Clean Energy Group highlights early state-wide projects from Maryland to Vermont, which have spurred 40 municipal programs. The first target is emergency response facilities: “More than 90 critical facilities in the Northeast – including emergency shelters, wastewater treatment plants, firehouses and other first responder facilities – will have resilient electrical systems in place to improve emergency response in the next year, and to protect neighborhoods in the next power outage.” Click through to learn more about these trailblazing programs, then dig in a bit in your area to see how you might engage in some Zone 4 resilient investing to advance these efforts in your community.
Posts Tagged ‘close to home strategy’
For years, economic development has focused on attracting existing businesses to build or move to your state or city. A new book from Michael Shuman challenges the track record of multi-million-dollar tax incentives and points instead at the rapid spread of “business pollinators” that spark local business ecosystems to life, creating far more jobs without relying on public funds to do so. In fact, the fight among several “suitors” for a new factory or a movie production generally doesn’t create any new jobs for the national economy; indeed, existing companies have shown a net loss of jobs in recent years, while new small businesses have been the primary source of new job creation. We’ve long appreciated Shuman’s efforts to spotlight the powerful effects of what we call the Close to Home investment strategy, and this new book shows the way forward in exciting detail. Click through for some key excerpts and more info.
Looking for some hopeful, practical stories of personal and community resilience? Check out Greening in the Red Zone, which compiles inspiring stories of regenerative commitment from parts of the world where things have fallen apart, ranging from Syrian war zones to tornado-wracked towns in the midwest.
The essence of resilient investing is to keep your eye on all 9 zones of our handy Resilient Investing Map—each of them is equally important. But in some very real ways, the key to it all is how you work with your Personal Assets. Some of this involves inner work and growth, though the heart of the personal is relationships with those around you, the investments we highlight in Zone 1.
Becca Martenson has been thinking about these questions for years as part of the Peak Prosperity community, one of key resources for localization and resiliency training that we featured in our book. She recently expounded a bit on the “how to” of building community in a 45 minute conversation that’s available for listening online or as a podcast; this page has those links, plus a transcript of the conversation if you’d rather read it. Some highlights:
Chris Holcomb, a community advocate who has worked extensively with BALLE, has just put together a very interesting “Localism Index” of the hundred most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. He summarizes his methodology:
Based on the results of this academic research, I compiled 5 different indicators as proxies corresponding to each area of focus. I applied this index to the 100 most populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States.
For Local Ownership, I used the Indie City Index from Civic Economics.
For Local Place, I used the average Walkscore of the largest cities in each MSA.
For Local Opportunity, I used the inverse of the Gini Coefficient of Inequality for each MSA.
For Local relationship with Nature, I adapted the Locavore Index for local foods to the level of the MSA.
For Local Relationships, I used the Social and Community components of the Gallup-Healthways Community Well-Being Index.
Each of these factors was then converted to a scale of 0 to 100, and averaged together to create the composite score for the Index.
Leslie Christian is one of the shining lights of humane finance, and in her most recent missive, she zeroes in on a subject near and dear to our permie hearts: the importance of putting our money to work in service of healthy soil and intact habitat. She brings us into the room as she and a circle of collaborators find their way toward new models for owning and managing farmland (the image is from their property, Living Lands), and then takes us along to a meeting of NatureVest, a new Nature Conservancy initiative aimed at bringing private investment into some of their conservation efforts.
But then she steps back and challenges those who dismiss such efforts as “on-offs” that are not worth our time because they can’t scale; her title says it all: Getting Off the Scales. The rest of the piece is a clarion call for a new way of looking at growing good ideas—getting bigger is often counterproductive; instead, let’s replicate and localize the core impulse and benefits of such projects. We’re totally behind her appreciation for the inherently local qualities that underlie what we call regenerative investing.
You should definitely go read the whole thing (it’s only a few powerful paragraphs); here’s a teaser:
We seem to think it’s appropriate to scale everything—farms, education, healthcare, and even relationships. Yet, people and places are so much more diverse, nuanced and interdependent than assembly-line products or software code. When we scale enterprises that directly serve people and places in all of their uniqueness and weirdness, we must inevitably standardize our understanding of those people and places. In the process, we surely fail to engage them and ourselves fully. We sacrifice quality for quantity. My reaction to scale is visceral and intense. I find it dehumanizing, single-minded, and boring!
These are the kinds of investments that should take over the world—not by scaling so that VCs and Wall Street can swoop in and do their “magic”, but by inspiring the participants, engaging the public and working at an essential level—real dirt, real trees, real plants, real people, real understanding and real value.
Amy Cortese just launched www.locavesting.com and it looks like a great site and a valuable resource. We featured Amy in The Resilient Investor as one of the key champions of local investing and we’re thrilled she’s continuing to document and engage the movement. The website’s tagline is “Local Investing News, Education & Resources,” and that’s indeed what you’ll find—engaging tales of local investing successes, introductions to the many avenues now available to put your money to work in your local community, and topical coverage of key themes, including crowdfunding and growing the local investing ecosystem.
One of the key traits of a Resilient Investor is putting focused attention into being prepared. This time-honored theme is one that I explored on March 11th on the C-Realm podcast in an episode called “Ready for Anything.” In turbulent times it’s impossible to know exactly what situations we might have to face, let alone how to be ready for them. But there is great value in considering a wide range of plausible scenarios, and preparing for those that seem more likely. Last week, that lesson was brought home by the resilient people of Vanuatu, as their preparation for extreme weather paid off with priceless returns.
Eyewitness reports of Cyclone Pam were truly scary: it was one of the strongest tropical storms ever to hit land, with gusts over 200 mph. But remarkably, there were only eleven deaths from the storm. This really made me curious! Was it was just luck? Or, had this island nation pulled off a remarkable feat? Turns out it’s the latter, and from the stories trickling out it’s clear that we could learn much about resilience from their example.
The first thing to note is that Vanuatu has been actively preparing for stronger storms. For several years, the World Bank and international aid agencies have been working with the government of Vanuatu on a program aimed at “increasing resilience to climate change and natural hazards.”
Michael Kramer’s 45 minute television interview with Jay Fidell of Think Tech Hawaii covers the core themes of The Resilient Investor as well as the sustainable, responsible, and impact investment approach used by Natural Investments.
Michael Kramer’s Sustainable Shareholder column at GreenBiz.com provides an overview of how resilience is replacing sustainability as a core skill set:
Scott Cooney of Important Media and producer of the Sustainability Unconference in Honolulu wrote a nice Triple Pundit piece about the book and conducted this on-site interview with Michael:
A nationwide, non-profit resource center that has created in-depth training programs to educate local investors and business owners in the nuts and bolts of creating local investing networks in their regions. In addition to the free training guides, LIRC hosts forums for local investors and entrepreneurs, and a nationwide directory of local investing groups (already featuring over 30 groups from coast to coast). Visit their website.