By Jenna Blumenfeld
Though Slow Money’s Gatheround event was intended to be primarily online, nearly 20 Boulder-based food enthusiasts gathered in a community meeting space last week.
“When planning the event, we knew we had to use the internet to do something around the country,” explained Woody Tasch, founder and chairman of Slow Money, an organization that advocates for decentralized investment around food. “This is about small groups of people using the power of local knowledge, and real relationships.”
Around the room, wine and beer were served. Introductions were made.
Gatheround is a live online event hosted by Slow Money that raises money for small food businesses across the United States. At it’s core, the event is an investment club—attendees pay $25 to hear a main speaker, listen to three food entrepreneurs pitching their business, and vote who their registration money should go to. Nearly 100 people nationally registered for the event, which focused on building soil fertility. Eventually, Slow Money hopes to host Gatheround events on a monthly basis.
By Marlena John
As a woman entering the finance world, the title of the session at the Slow Money National Gathering, Female Investors: The Most Important Change Agents on Earth, certainly sparked my interest.
Don Shaffer, President & CEO of RSF Social Finance started by telling the story of when he was a golf caddy in New Jersey, slinging golf clubs for Wall Street traders and bankers. Back then, women were not allowed on the golf course, which reflected the situation of most of Wall Street and the finance industry as a whole. The few women who did work in finance got paid a lot less than the men.
Fast-forward twenty or so years. There are a lot more females in the field, taking leadership in investment opportunities, and playing golf. The Equal Pay Act of 1963, signed by President Kennedy, prohibited pay differences based on sex. Great! But, if you think that everything is hunky dory, then you’d be wrong. As it turns out, women are still making less money than men on average, and this is particularly true on Wall Street. Shaffer claims that females on Wall Street make 55-62 percent as much as males do, though I’ve seen statistics that claim it is as high as 77 percent. Even if the 77 percent stat is accurate, women in finance are experiencing a significant, and unwarranted, pay gap.
So, women are getting paid less, and that’s not cool. We also have many more men than women investing and working in finance. But why should we care how many women investors there are? Don Shaffer laid it out well. He noted that female investors see investments as a whole, understand them as a system and their implications. Thus, we (women) are more likely to be able to see the short- and long-term outcomes of investments.
By Marlena John
At the Slow Money National Gathering, there was a lot of talk about sustainable food systems, local food sheds, healthy soil and healthy people.
There was also a lot of talk about how challenging it is to attain these ideal food systems. Small farmers often run into trouble finding financing. The question is, when traditional financing doesn’t offer support, where do small, local farmers go? How can these farmers grow their businesses and support their families when they only receive six to fifteen cents on the dollar for their products? The drive, passion and aspiration are there, but in so many instances, the money is not.
Enter Gary Nabhan, an author, professor and pioneer in food systems. Dressed in a suit jacket, white button-up shirt, and a cowboy hat, Nabhan argued that the nutritional cliff is the real fiscal cliff, citing that $1.3 trillion are spent every year on band-aid treatments for diabetes, which affects 25.8 million people in the United States.
He spoke of the necessity of structural diversity for food financing so that we can bring fresh, healthy, local, sustainable foods to communities throughout the country. Nabhan gave an example of an organization that he works with – Borderlands Habitat Restoration Initiative. The organization is focusing on food chain restoration, soil fertility and biodiversity restoration in one of the poorest counties along the Mexico – U.S. border. This area is considered a food desert, where people have little or no access to fresh, healthy foods.
By Alina Koch Lawrence
A whopping 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. That is about one and a half times more than emissions from the power sector. A host of statewide energy policies, such as Energy Efficiency laws and ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standards are effectively reducing energy-related emissions. Many would agree that the energy policies in California are among the world’s most progressive.
Supply versus demand
Achieving a similarly impressive success within the transportation sector is a bit more challenging. Unlike in the highly regulated energy sector, transportation policies deal with individual consumer choice. In reality, most of us don’t choose where our energy comes from. However, we choose whether we travel by car, the type of car we purchase, the fuel we use and how far we travel. With an expected population increase (30 percent growth between 2010 and 2040 in the Bay Area), progressive transportation policies and infrastructure planning is imperative for the future. Regulations aimed toward the supply side, such as the Clean Car Pavley Standards, ZEV Program, SB375, and Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program (LCSF) are targeting transportation-related emissions reductions in various ways. But, achieving behavioral change on the demand side is more difficult. Ultimately, consumers are the decision makers – and they are the ones that have a significant stake in transforming our infrastructure to one that is less polluted, less congested and less oil-dependent.
By Bonnie Hulkower
Los Angeles, a city more often known for its celebrity sightings and Hollywood stars, also shines bright in the solar arena. The City of Angels has dazzled in the last decade with a strong record of sustainability. So much so that on April 19th, local and national government representatives as well as business leaders gathered to celebrate the launch of the city’s solar Feed in Tariff (FIT) program (Clean L.A. Solar Program) at the Los Angeles Business Council’s (LABC) Sustainability Summit. The program focused on how to harness sustainability programs and regulatory initiatives for job growth.
Essentially, the idea of the FIT is to make solar competitive in what naturally is one of the nation’s sunniest communities. Similar to President Kennedy’s mission to the moon, L.A.’s moonshot moment is to benefit from solar energy in a region blessed with sunny weather year round. Solar energy is especially appropriate in hot climates, as air conditioning demand coincides with the period of peak solar radiation.
By Alina Koch Lawrence
As California prepares to form a strategic partnership with Quebec to link its cap and trade program, it is fascinating to examine developments in the global carbon market.
The “leader” took a hit
The European Union made news this week experiencing a major setback on its proposal for back-loading, a measure to shift carbon allowances to the back end of the compliance period in order to stabilize the EU ETS carbon price. The European Parliament blocked the back-loading proposal, brought forward by the Parliament’s Environment Committee in an effort to tighten the cap. As a result, the carbon price plummeted to EUR 2.46. Analysts warn that the price could fall even lower to nearly zero in the coming weeks. Over the past few years, the world has been scrutinizing the EU as the first mover in deploying a sizable cap and trade mechanism. While many applauded the efforts, just as many criticized its numerous flaws. The EU ETS serves as a “guinea pig” for other regions to explore what and what not to do. Over-allocation of allowances arguably falls into the category of “don’t do’s.”
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, stated in her keynote speech at this week’s Navigating the American Carbon World conference, that the vote was “disappointing […] and a blow to the market, though not a death blow.” In her motivating oratory, she encouraged market participants to remain optimistic as the EU ETS is a “powerful instrument, but not the only one as there are many other policies” supporting emissions trading markets.
By Alina Koch Lawrence
In this week’s Navigating the American Carbon World pre-conference workshop on California’s cap and trade, carbon experts discussed the potential linkage between California and Quebec. After linkage was delayed by nearly a year, due to concerns raised by the California legislature addressing the necessity for additional requirements, it appears that the time has finally come.
The proposal recently received the much-anticipated Governor’s sign-off. Today, Friday, April 19, the California Air Resources Board will meet and vote on the linkage. Experts anticipate the proposal to pass as the vote represents more or less a formality at this point. This would signify that beginning January 1, 2014, California and Quebec entities could start trading carbon allowances across borders.
Why do we need to link in the first place?
As its name indicates, a cap and trade system only works with an adequate cap and prospering trade. Enlarging the market helps increase trading opportunities and facilitates market stimulation. Furthermore, as Matt Rodriguez and Dirk Forrister, stated in the international plenary session at the Navigating the Carbon World conference, a regional cap and trade program can only sustain itself in the long term if other regions move along with similar mechanisms to curb emissions, otherwise the economic prospective in terms of global competitiveness may start to look grim down the road.