Even tiny sums can help build a better world
Co-founder and editor of Business Ethics magazine; author of The Divine Right of Capital
The best place people can put their money to work is investing in their community. When you make speculative bets on the stock market, so-called ?invested? dollars don?t really reach the corporations you intend; they simply trade hands from one speculator to another. If you want to put your money to work building something, place it with a community development financial institution (CDFI). These organizations, which include everything from community development credit unions and community investment funds to neighborhood-oriented banks like ShoreBank and technical assistance organizations like the Woodstock Institute, make community-oriented loans for things like low-income housing, inner-city development, and small-business help for the disadvantaged. And they have a great track record on repayment, so your money is safe.
For more on Business Ethics magazine, visit www.business-ethics.com
Vice president, Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Tithe yourself. Devote 10 percent of your income to support political efforts?both electoral and nonelectoral?whose objective is to defeat George Bush?s quest for a second term. The time frame is short: 12 to 15 months. Success would make all other efforts possible.
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is at www.ilsr.org
Economist and futurist; author of many books, including The Politics of the Solar Age
I would first recommend that people who want to put their money to work for their values look at all their options for investing in socially responsible mutual funds. For the more adventurous, there are funds specializing in solar energy and renewable resources. Those concerned with revitalizing and growing vigorous local economies can look at the many community investment opportunities for CDs and bonds, which pay interest and help inner-city redevelopment, micro-enterprises, affordable housing, community-supported local agriculture. Check out all these options at www.socialinvest.org. Personally, I believe that the U.S. dollar?s days as the world?s ?defacto? reserve currency are numbered. Some 35 percent of world trade and other countries? currency reserves are now in euros. Many countries have diversified their currency reserves out of U.S. dollars.
Hazel Henderson is at www.hazelhenderson.com
Professor of philosophy, San Francisco State University; author of Money and the Meaning of Life and several other books
Of course, there are many enterprises and projects that are worthy of support, and many individuals worthy of being helped. But there is one use of money that is rarely mentioned, but that in its way is one of the most beneficent uses of money in the world. I am referring to the use of money and wealth to further one?s own pursuit of truth and inner development. The world needs many things, but nothing more urgently than men and women of wisdom and conscience. To those who wish to put their dollars to good use in the world, I would suggest they consider seeking out the help that would enable them to work at becoming within themselves men and women who actually can see reality and understand the Good. It is not easy; it takes a great hunger, and the freedom that money brings can be a tremendous help in finding the guidance that is necessary.
For more on Jacob Needleman, visit www.jacobneedleman.com
President, Meadowbrooklane Capital, and founder of the Gasoline Alley Foundation
Where you work, how you spend your money, how you spend your time, and how you invest what?s left over contribute to the common good. If you decide to work for a company that pollutes waterways, or employs slave labor, or engages in illicit trade while investing your money in a socially responsible mutual fund, you?re really only kidding yourself. Every time you spend money on a product or service, you are making an investment in that company. You contribute to profits and support their business model. Every time you decide to engage in a social or cultural event, you support and contribute to its sustainability. It?s shifting your thoughts, conscious living. It ain?t easy. And once you begin to think about it, it becomes a lifelong journey. To be on the journey with like-minded individuals makes the trip that much better. The travelers will benefit the future generations. That?s really the goal: leaving the place a little better for the next generation.
Meadowbrooklane Capital is at www.meadowbrooklane.com
President and CEO, Rudolf Steiner Foundation (RSF)
So much in our world today tries to separate us from our money. We?re told to buy this, invest in that, give to this. What we have tried to focus on at our foundation is how individuals can stay connected with their money all the way through its movement. Money moves when you buy something, it moves when you invest, it moves when you give. And each one of these transactions has a different quality to it. If individuals and organizations can stay awake and consciously follow how their money moves in the world, it is far more satisfying and has far more impact.
For those to whom we lend the money, it?s important that they be just as conscious of where that money is coming from. And as they repay their obligations, we?ve heard time and time again how much easier it is for them when they?re writing their check to picture the whole community that has wanted them to succeed. This is the true form of transparency.
For more on RSF, visit www.rsfoundation.org
Co-founder, Working Assets
Most ways of using money have made the world worse. Thankfully, there are an infinite number of honorable ways to give, invest, spend?and not spend?money that would make the world better. This is a very personal choice, and the best choice is one that can be sustained over time. Three that seem critical to me are:
Spending money to change who is president of the United States. There has never been so much power concentrated in one country, and that country is led by someone with a messianic goal of rolling back the 20th century;
Keeping money out of the hands of the national chains, and instead buying goods that are made to last from local stores, artists, and farmers; and
Giving money in a way that provides women and girls with full educational opportunities, civil rights, political power, and freedom of expression around the world.
For more on Working Assets, visit www.workingassets.com
Catherine Austin Fitts
President, Solari Inc.
The best investment opportunity in America is to start a solari, which is a neighborhood investment databank and adviser. A solari circulates information about ?how the money works? and helps small businesses and real estate access local and global equity markets in a way that significantly increases equity yields in a neighborhood or small town. Investing our time and money in a neighborhood solari is a way to build retirement savings by ?voting with our money? for a sustainable economy.
For more on Solari Inc., visit www.solari.com