Woody Tasch, author of Slow Money, and President and Chairman of the Slow Money Alliance, spoke on day 2 of the Green America Green Business Conference. He had a tough act to follow, getting up on stage right after Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins of Green For All.
Tasch, in his characteristic charismatic and down-to-earth style, was more than up to the task. The final question asked of Ellis-Lamkins was ‘What happens when stimulus money dries up? Where will the green jobs come from if the green labor force Green For All is working with don’t have entrepreneurial skills to create their own?’ Tasch was thrilled to be able to pick up the ball and run with that question, as a beautiful segue to the financial side of the new green economy.
“I’m so glad that young man asked that question. Where’s that money going to come from?” he asked. “It’s going to come from us. For some reason, we all have our money in the stock market.” What would happen, he ponders, if we were all to invest 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live? If organic farming and small food enterprises are key to the health of the economy and society, why do they receive so little funding from government, philanthropy and capital markets?
Tasch showed the cover of Time Magazine from two months ago: The High Price of Cheap Food. It was Time Magazine, not a lefty/progressive publication like Mother Jones, that had packaged beef on its cover, proclaiming that our food system was bad for our health, bad for our environment, bad for society, and completely unsustainable.
It all starts with food. Can we invest locally to produce a healthy food economy that will provide stable income, jobs, and opportunities for anyone? Food that won’t kill us? Food that won’t deplete soils, pollute water, and degrade our landscapes?
Tasch provided a dozen examples of companies doing just that. Sky Vegetables, a hydroponic veggie grower based in Berkeley, Organic Valley Cooperative, Niman Ranch….the list went on. Tasch was careful to draw the comparison to the model of Numi Tea, Sambazon, and many other organics companies that are still subscribing to the old economy model where their exit strategy is to sell to a large multinational. What Slow Money is all about is investing in companies that are small and intend to stay small, keeping money and decision making authority local.
Tasch encouraged everyone to go online and find the Slow Money Principles petition. It’s not the political power of this petition that counts, it’s the connection to investors that Tasch is counting on to change the world. He’s got at least one new convert here in this room today.
Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and is reporting live from the Green America Green Business Conference in beautiful San Francisco, CA.