Climate change is serious, but it doesn’t have to be grim. At least not in the ways we come together to cope with it.
We know it’s real and it’s terrifying.
But, no one is better at turning serious, scary, and seemingly grim topics into open, easy, powerful, fruitful discussions than Abundance NC.
Again and again they take on difficult topics of our time – like climate change, death, grief, the opoid epidemic, assaults on renewable energy, re-localizing food production – and transmit them into gatherings to create solutions through stronger, more meaningful community. One that honors our planet, offers deep appreciation for our loved ones both here and gone, and most importantly creates spaces, where we can be in each other’s company for much sought after mutual renewal.
Because we need that. I need that.
Join us today, May 13th, at the CLIMATE CARNIVAL, for yet another of Abundance NC’s brilliant and delightful community events addressing the most pressing topic of our time.
The event is at the Plant, so you can count on festive lights and tents, good food, a local beer and spirits cash bar, and a playground.
For our minds and hearts there will be well-informed, deeply thoughtful, and profoundly inspiring speakers. Audience questions and side conversations will take that to an even higher level.
We can do what we so enjoy. Spend time hanging out, maybe to engage in climate change topics – or to talk on other topics, to think together, and to play.
Creating the world we want to live in doesn’t have to be that hard. We can start right now, together with our friends – right here in our community.
When this email arrived I laughed out loud. Because the funniest jokes are about things that are true, or at least mostly true.
Jeff, in his generosity, had approached me about finding a local farmer that might need capital. So he drove a few miles down the road to meet with a farmer who lived near him. Jeff was ready to help with a loan to cover the cost of several new raised beds to grow more produce for local restaurants. Jeff offered his neighbor a low-interest loan for equipment he said he needed. But then when Jeff tried to actually make the loan, the farmer had found a way to get along a bit longer without needing to borrow money.
In the larger scheme of things, that’s great. Whenever possible the best course of action is to stay out of debt.
But Jeff is a willing potential Slow Money NC lender. He cares deeply about the local food movement, but he’s having trouble finding someone to help. Luckily he is also a great guy, with a wonderful sense of humor, as you can see by his light-hearted email above.
I talk about this phenomenon in my book, Financing Our Foodshed, in a section called “the seesaw.” Because that is exactly what I find myself trying to navigate!
Some days there are so many farmers and food entrepreneurs who have connected with me about needing a piece of equipment, or some start-up capital, or a walk-behind tiller, that it keeps me up at night.
Other times my challenge is helping folks like Jeff that want to make a difference in their local food system, but just need a way to make that happen.
You would think by now, after catalyzing over 160 direct, peer-to-peer Slow Money loans here in NC to some 98 sustainable farmers and food businesses that support them – that making these loans happen would be like falling off a log.
But social change is never quite as easy as that. After all, we are dealing with people here, and complicated regulations that are not written to make it an obvious or easy road for the little guy – the small business owner. Every day I meet good, extraordinary people, but with their time pressures, and quirkiness about money, and the myriad of details that come into play each time, working out these first-ever-in-history simple Slow Money loans – well, they just take time. And sometimes they become really Slow Money.
But they are each their own moment in history. Each is a radical departure of the money lending of our day. This is money that traditional lenders will not free up, being loaned to businesses that are re-engineering an inadequate and immoral food system. These are loans to the heroes we will celebrate tomorrow but who may too over-worked to hardly look up to receive our accolades.
And so each day I awake to hurl myself against a system that propels corporations ahead of ‘coop’erations, because I remain convinced it does not have to be so hard.
After a bite of Angelina’s Shepherd’s Pie made with local sweet potatoes, tomatoes and beef, two lenders took a huge bite out of the credit card debt that Angelina and her husband, John incurred when they added a seating area to Angelina’s Kitchen, their unique, gourmet Greek restaurant in the small town of Pittsboro, NC.
Those two low-interest Slow Money loans meant that instead of paying nearly $500 a month for interest only, they could pay less than $200, and in just a few years were debt free.
We love making stories like that happen. As we bounce from one side of this seesaw to the other, our soils can become more fertile, our local foodsheds more resilient, and communities stronger and more fun to live in.
We can do this. We can and we are – and it’s fun. Join us!
We rode the wave of progress and by the end of the 20th century our stores had filled up with ‘stuff’ from all over the world – as had our kitchen cabinets, and our bodies. Tangerines from Spain, dresses from Bangladesh and appliances from Japan. We burned through millions of barrels of fuel from the Middle East, and gave up control of our life savings to a globalized stock market.
It all seemed harmless enough, and in exchange we got so much choice! So many creature comforts, and a promise that it would only get better and better.
But that wave turned out to be a tsunami, and while globalization has merit, it has come with unforeseen risks and costs to our psyche, to our health, to our planet’s ability to sustain life, and thus to our resilience as a species.
Today we are seeing a new wave, a new perspective on progress. One that is less extractive of our planet’s finite resources, and that reconnects us to home.
The new paradigm is to re-localize – to get “Running On Local.” Local food, local fuel, local finance, local friendships, local fun, and more.
In 2010 I heard an idea, espoused by Woody Tasch, author of Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money, of moving money into the hands of local sustainable farmers and the local food businesses that support them. It seemed we could make affordable loans to those folks who had a viable need for capital – money that banks and other conventional sources would not lend. I tried it and it worked. I’ve made several Slow Money loans and it has been a blast. I can stop by a farmers market, or Angelina’s Kitchen, a small Greek restaurant that serves local food, and I can visit with the friends I have helped. I can see that my small, low-interest loan has made a difference in their success. It’s heartening and hopeful.
In the last three and a half years I have helped facilitate over 115 of these direct, peer-to-peer loans in North Carolina from about 80 different lenders to 55 farmers and food entrepreneurs. Many of those loans are already paid off. They total about 1.2 million dollars and they have kept people employed in their own businesses, put more local food in our stores and restaurants, preserved small farms, and strengthened local economies. It’s brilliant and simple. We can do this in communities all over the US and beyond.
In our little town of Pittsboro, in rural North Carolina, we are “walking the walk” – with several farmers markets, a growing number of CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) and our very our coop grocery store, Chatham Marketplace. The Marketplace is now entirely financed with money from local citizens. We have a community scale biodiesel plant, a two-year program in Sustainability at our local community college, and a local currency.
We have stories to tell. Fellow New Society Publishers author and sustainability activist, Lyle Estill, and I have created “Running On Local,” a sustainability roadshow to promote the merits of all things local. We are sharing those success stories and helping other communities to re-localize.
“In a world of gloom and doom,” says Lyle Estill, author of three books on biodiesel and most recently of Small Stories, Big Changes: Agents of Change on the Forefront of Sustainability, “where financial instruments are too complex to understand, and money moves at the speed of light, where governments are struggling to take action, and individuals are at the mercy of faceless global corporations, there are ways to localize all aspects of your life.”
He should know. He runs Piedmont Biofuels, one of the few surviving community-scale biofuel operations in the Southeast, turning waste cooking oil into about one million gallons of B100 biofuel each year.
“Localizing?” Estill goes on to say. “We’ve done it. We’ve empowered ourselves, and others. We’ve written about our experiences, and we are happy to share them with you. We have practical ideas you can use in Anytown, USA. We spread hope.”
Together Lyle and I are going on the road to host powerful conversations in communities up and down the East Coast. We are taking our “Running On Local” message from Miami and Orlando, FL to Savannah, GA, and then on to Beaufort and Charleston, SC before heading up to Washington DC, NYC and Western MA.
Here are our current tour dates: Monday, February 24th, East End Market, 5:30 – 7:30PM, Orlando, FL
Tuesday, February 25th, Sentient Bean, 5 – 6:30PM, Sentient Bean, Savannah, GA
Wednesday, February 26th, PANINI’S On The Waterfront, 5:30-7:30PM, Beaufort, SC
Thursday, February 27th, Jericho Advisors and Art Gallery, 5:30-7:30PM, Charleston, SC
Wednesday, March 19th, Café Saint-Ex, 7-9PM, Washington, DC
Thursday, March 20th, Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, March 22nd, Greenfield, MA