Kosmos, a “Journal for Global Transformation,” recently published A ‘global call’ from our friends at Share the World’s Resources (STWR), which is in turn taken from Sharing.org (which offers its material under a Creative Commons License, as we’ve begun to do with our materials on The Contribution Economy).
The lead-in to their article expresses as well as anything I’ve seen recently the current problematique, the central challenge and response of our age:
A proposal authored by Dr. Delton Chen, and sponsored by CRCS, has won in the 2014 MIT Climate CoLab Competition. The Global 4C proposal was not the winner of the final prize, but it was a winner and very well received and recognized at the conference.
The conference itself — or at least the part we were present for — was itself quite fascinating, and remarkable for the variety of entries, the keynotes, and of course the conversations in the halls. We were unfortunately detained in New Jersey for a crucial meeting on Thursday morning (which turned out well, advancing the cause of PACE financing in New Jersey), and then set off for Boston in drenching rain, poor visibility, and at least four major accidents along the way. Harrowing. We finally made it around 3:45 to the venue, and got to the breakout room for your presentation just as you were answering the last question.
People felt the proposal was serious and well thought-through, and were happy to speak with us about it. The videos, and above all the new radio interview, linked below, have made the idea very clear and accessible, so we no longer have to spend much time clearing up misconceptions.
Asking for money is one of the more challenging things that every charity has to do. The first question we need to answer, however, is “Why are we asking?” If we don’t have a clear and compelling answer, we’re handicapping ourselves from the start.
So here’s why.
- It’s to give people the opportunity to contribute to the world they believe in.
- It’s to give us the ability to keep working on creating a world that works, by providing “regenerative community solutions,” i.e., practical ways of restoring and building communities that last and become self-reinforcing and self-sustaining.
- Ultimately, it’s to empower the world of generosity, the you-and-me world, rather than the you-or-me world.
In The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist, who has raised more than $150 million in individual contributions, tells the story of her own first monetary contribution:
We’re committed to a future that has New Jersey PACE as a local success story in the making. Working back from this future, what will this look like, and what will it mean for New Jersey?
Let’s imagine what New Jersey might look like in ten years with PACE. Continue reading
Cities across the US are competing to install 10,000+ rain gardens as part of community-wide campaigns — Seattle is looking for 12,000 near the Puget Sound; Kansas City, Mo is creating 10,000; and Sustainable Jersey City thinks 11,000 is about the right number for Jersey City.
What’s even more interesting is that these are being seen as community engagement and revitalization projects. Jersey City’s is indeed “crowd-sourced”: Continue reading
The challenges we face in New Jersey as a result of climate change are significant, and so therefore are the opportunities. The experience of Superstorm Sandy showed us just how ill-prepared we are for the more frequent recurrence of extreme weather; and how important it is that we set an example for taking action to mitigate our own greenhouse gas emissions, as other states are doing around us. And there’s also no doubt about the urgency of it — as you can see from this remarkable video:
Developing our crowdfunding campaign is giving us an extraordinary opportunity to explore using PACE to revitalize New Jersey communities. By itself, PACE is an innovative business model that creates jobs and economic development while providing the ultimate tool to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on private properties. But leveraging PACE for community development is where the real payoff is, that is to say, for the benefit of the community as a whole.
There is increasing awareness of and interest in the role of complementary currencies in local communities and around the world. In Deep Economy (2007), Bill McKibben notes, “If you really want to make a local economy soar, the most important step might be to create a local currency.” More than 4000 complementary currencies are in use around the world; as the name implies, their role is to supplement traditional currencies, not replace them. In a series of books, the Belgian economist and civil engineer Bernard Lietaer has studied and reported on many of these currencies and demonstrated their usefulness in a variety of contexts. While nowhere near as involved in this area of research, the authors are responsible for the original concept and successful demonstration of a commercial credit exchange, in Ottawa, Canada, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The present proposal grows out of this experience as well as drawing on the work of Lietaer and others, and is further explained in a companion piece called “A New Currency?” available here.
CRCS has published two papers relating to alternative or complementary currencies, which can be downloaded below.
 Bill McKibben: Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (2007), p. 162
 Lietaer, who many consider the “father” of the single European currency, has been involved in the development of alternative currencies for more than forty years. He is the author or co-author of The Future of Money: Beyond Greed and Scarcity (2001), New Money for a New World (2011), and Money & Sustainability: the missing link (2012), a publication of the Club of Rome.
 Called Credex, the exchange involved more than 100 companies and operated successful as a pilot project during 1990-91.
When we talk about regenerative community solutions, what we’re talking about are the outcomes of a significant transformation in the way we relate to the world — such that rather than degrading the regenerative capacity of nature, our enterprises naturally seek to enhance it. We can call such companies “social enterprises,” though in reality all companies should recognize that they are social enterprises, and start living up to their regenerative potential. As Harvard economist Michael Porter has argued, every company can and should create social value, because it’s good for business. And when enterprises are creating social value, it’s also good for communities.
Every community has a unique character, but it also shares some basic needs with every other human community: including the need to have a vision, mission, and purpose that matches the unique character of the place. Communities are living ecosystems. They may be thriving or they may be struggling, and this seriously impacts the health of their constituents. Repairing the damage that we have caused to certain communities — including many older urban communities — has proven a great deal more difficult to remedy than merely providing them with a more sustainable and resilient infrastructure, but the latter would clearly help, and be worthy of investment.
We created the Center for Regenerative Community Solutions (CRCS) in order to support our nonprofit mission of community education and engagement that is essential for co-creating a more sustainable future. We are applying for 501c3 status, which if granted will be retroactive to our founding on January 9, 2013.
We welcome both monetary and in-kind contributions to this effort.