Slow Money Conference BillboardSlow Money, a national movement to transform the landscape of funding our food system, convened their fourth National Gathering earlier this week. In pursuit of goals such as to “accelerate the transition from an economy based on extraction and consumption to an economy based on preservation and restoration,” the organization has attracted some of the greatest minds on the forefront of finance and food to a common cause.

With shared agreement on preeminent principles, attendees descended upon Boulder, Colorado, Slow Money’s new home, to continue the conversation, among them 13 BGI students, one faculty member, and numerous alumni. A sunny first day begin with a welcome by Slow Money founder Woody Tasch and a compelling conclusion by Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food. Highlights flew through the twitterverse, captured at #slowmoney

  • Amanda Thomas ‏@emeraldedible
    @SlowMoney founder, Woody Tasch: let’s move #capital, near our neighbors, in places we understand, small business enterprise #slowmoney
  • Slow Food USA ‏@SlowFoodUSA
    RT@emeraldedible:”We live in a society where we spend more on losing weight than to eat. We’ve lost common sense”#CarloPetrini @ #slowmoney

Esteemed BGI Change Agents in Resident (CAIR) were in attendance, inspiring ongoing connections and dialogue about important systems change starting with our food system:

  • Marjorie Kelly ‏@marjorie_kelly
    @TellusInstitute: Facing urgency – pinwheel, one arm moving big change, another creating #generative alternatives #slowmoney
  • Bryan Welch @ranchocapp, @MotherEarthNews: With capability comes responsibility #slowmoney
  • Joel Solomon ‏@joelsolomon
    The #SlowMoney impressive 25 generative values laden entrepreneurs who did 5 minute pitches on stage. Courage + Love pic.twitter.com/TXwa8MRzYy

Slow Money BGIAn important premise of Slow Money’s work has been to change the ecosystem of investing: “It starts with the soil. Entrepreneurs are the seeds. Investors are the water.” This was evidenced in the rapid fire entrepreneur showcase, which featured one BGI current student’s business Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies. Awards were given to two outstanding participants:

  • @Revision_Intl On fire with #cooperative #grocery, #generative #change making, fantastic! #slowmoney entrepreneur showcase #inspire #neweconomy
  • @HaydenFlourMill, the people voted, bravo! #slowmoney

Current student Diane Freaney caught up with Emma from Hayden Flour Mills, who’s honoring was celebrated soon after. Another Slow Money startup success story added to the week’s experience: Credibles, crowd-funding for small, sustainable food-related businesses, was a great platform for conference goers to support and enjoy local restaurants.

  • Arno Hesse @ahesse, @ediblecredits: Where our food comes from – they eat before we do. Pay it forward! Feed the system that feeds you #slowmoney

Speakers spanned a spectrum of investors, practitioners and thought leaders from NGOs such as FarmAid and SlowFoodUSA and many others doing good work across sectors:

  • Daniela Ibarra-Howell, @SavoryInstitute: Everything ties back to carbon: water, food, etc. Let’s put carbon back where it belongs #slowmoney
  • judy wicks @jwicks333, @bealocalist: 1st step of #neweconomy, choose a place, take responsibility & create a place you want to live & work #slowmoney
  • Mary Berry, The Berry Center: We are in a cultural, agricultural & environmental free fall #slowmoney
  • Mary Berry, The Berry Center: Educate our youth for #homecoming rather than #upwardmobility #slowmoney
  • @marjorie_kelly, @TellusInstitute: What kind of economy is suited for living inside a living being? #slowmoney

The depth, curiosity and intent of the participants and organizers was palpable. This created a courageous environment of vibrant possibility for the future of food and finance.

  • Amanda Thomas ‏@emeraldedible
    A listening recap: A deep hunger for healing & restoration and a deep gratitude that we can see it beginning to happen here #slowmoney #hope

Current BGI student Beth Robinette summarized the concluding sentiment with these poignant words in the closing circle, spurring us on to continue with hope and clarity:

“I’m struck by the urgency of this work. I hope you all feel energized and inspired by what you have learned these last two days.
Lets continue to conversation with everyone we come across.
But let’s not stake our success on swaying others or converting them to our cause.
Let us build the new system and attract others to our cause with our success.
We do not have time to ring out hands and fret because people call us dreamers.
We are dreamers.
Nay-Sayers be damned.
Politicians be damned.
Extractive corporations and abusive economic systems be damned.
Let us actualize our dreams with urgency and prove to those who would doubt us, or who cling to a dying system, that they are the ones who are asleep.”

Blog originally featured by Bainbridge Graduate Institute: http://www.bgi.edu/changing-business/slowmoney/


Systems Thinking, meet Design Thinking: A perfect match.

Photo credit: Brian Bomhoff

It’s about the journey, not the destination. This mantra sums up the overarching takeaway from summer’s Creativity & Right Livelihood class, generously applying to both topics. The power of innovation within each realm was powerful to eat, breathe, and think continuously while at Channel Rock for eight days, returning to orientation’s 140-acre off-grid eco-retreat center on Canada’s delightfully remote Cortes Island:

The 12 hour, three ferry adventure to and from captured the essence of the journey while the carefully orchestrated days of reflection and team process in between the travel spoke volumes. Encountering our authentic selves in a new light while shifting between multiple team processes, all while being unplugged and in a magically creative setting and state of mind, was liberating and empowering.

Photo credit: Amanda Thomas

Taking first year’s Hybrid MBA practice in systems thinking, with its brief foray into design thinking, to a new level felt like exercising a latent muscle that strengthened with consistent iteration and rapid prototyping over the course of the week. Combined with fascinating guest lectures and onsite opportunities to implement open inquiry via fieldtrips, we grew as a group in process and execution, culminating the week with team presentations. In a fun burst of creative exploration my team crafted a video for the business From Around Here while working from concept to pitch in 24 hours:

Our personal reflections became evident across small peer discussions and group exercises, finally evidenced in individual natural constructions, storytelling our present place in right livelihood in poignant and meaningful ways. The opportunity to play thoughtfully while being surrounded by co-learners in a delightful natural setting was everything I hoped for and more: another BGI delight for the memory books. A meteor shower overhead with bioluminescence in the bay each evening didn’t hurt either!

Photo credit: Brian Bomhoff

summit to sunrise – week seven/eight

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” ~ Alan Kay

Such was the undertone, both stated & unstated, at last week’s NW Solar Summit which gathered area innovators and orchestrators for updates, strategy and collaboration involved in Washington’s role in the way forward through renewable energy.

Underlined by a compiled publication debuted at the conference, Washington Sunrise 2030 highlighted the key areas to be discussed in “mapping the state’s path to energy freedom” through conservation, efficiency, building retrofit & transportation:

“Washington, with its unique weather patterns, hydrobased energy economy, and diverse resource portfolio is capable of achieving a carbon-neutral, renewable energy economy by 2030.”

One of the first in the long list of informative presenters began with the premise that conservation can provide 85% of Washington’s energy needs through 2030 – the question then left is, where do we get the remaining 15%? The story of learning to manage the intermittency challenges of hydro (pumped-storage hydro) will inform handling the learning curve of solar in our area as well he stated, and the opportunities to combine the technological advances of both with those of our growing area wind generating capacity abound.

Others continued to speak of the current state of the industry as being that of such that our energy crisis is a crisis of the imagination, expounding upon the possibilities of melding solar power generation and the growing electric car movement, pointing to work being done by companies such as ECOtality.

Meeting development needs and challenges creatively were illuminated by work being done in Portland, Austin, Minneapolis & Chicago. A fascinating look at Seattle’s own efforts were summarized in an update on Seattle 2030 District and Seattle Climate Partnership, a sector by sector implementation of Getting to Zero:

The discussion did not ignore it’s title participant – solar – with exciting developments for Washington incentives for funding and sourcing from local technology being successfully implemented by various local communities. Even the NYT pointed to the opportunities available in this sector in the week since the conference.