Time to slow the money down

The end of the year is not that far off and it gets me thinking about money.
November and December usually finds our wallets and bank accounts slightly empty, if not drained, as we try to balance our spending for Christmas.
It may not exactly be the time to be considering where we want to invest our dollars in the upcoming year. Or is it?
Perhaps the end of the year is precisely the right time to contemplate where the year’s income has gone and if we had investments, where and how were those invested dollars used and who exactly used them.
The current money markets are incredibly complex, with what feels like very few checks and balances, and that the average investor or would-be investor has little hope of tracking where his/her money went.
We put our money into the bank or into GICs or into the hands of an investment consultant, and all we know is how much interest is generated quarterly after we indicate how much risk we are willing to bear.
We all know the economy is in a desperately fragile state, and most of us are pulling up our shoulders and wincing while we quietly pray that things hold together until we, globally speaking, can figure it out.
Woody Tasch is a visionary; an individual who has spent his working life trying to figure out how to do things differently, how to do things in the economy in a sustainable manner.
He put his ideas and concerns and questions into several books—books that introduced the concept of “slow money.” He wrote “Slow Money: Investing as if food, farming, and fertility mattered.”
Slow money is a concept of using wealth to do the right thing. Economists might ask Tasch, “What is this slow money? Is it philanthropy or venture capital?”
Tasch would answer, “Neither and both.”
Tasch had his ”ah-ha“ moment when he read the writings of E.F. Schumacher in 1973, “Small Is Beautiful.” Schumacher was a well-respected British economist who worked with John Maynard Keynes and John Kenneth Galbraith, and if you remember little else from Mr. Allison’s high school economics class, you may remember those names and their fiscal and monetary policies.
Schumacher, in essence, said, “Let’s bring money back down to earth,” where we can see what it does and his is one about decentralization.
Schumacher was of the thinking that the workplace should be a respectful, dignified place and that efficiency should follow after that, and bearing in mind that the planet’s natural resources are beyond valuable.
Slow money is just the working extension of that philosophy.
Tasch’s concepts circle around the need to invest locally, be mission driven, support small food enterprises, CSAs (community shared agriculture), and to use a meaningful portion of our capital in those investments and redesign our expectations to support smaller enterprises.
Slow money is using wealth to do the right thing. It is holding culture and capital together on the same page, with the interests of both in the equation.
This would all require a shift of consciousness and as we all know, shift and change never come easily.
We should ask the questions: Is our money bettering the planet, the country, the neighbourhood? Is our money supporting businesses that are trying to do things right? Are our investments allowing us to turn our attention to what is going on locally?
Slow money considers all these factors. It is investment with a conscience, with a deliberate positive goal in mind.
Tasch cites examples of investing in situations where the how of food production is of utmost importance and caretaking of the land, producing food in the most optimal manner and then sustainability can be achieved.
A CSA farm is a pure expression of a non-global enterprise; here the consumer is in a direct personal relationship with the farmer.
Tasch says if we invest our money in those parts of society that are sustainable and positive, then the entire planet benefits. If we invest locally, where we can see what our money is producing and how, then the entire planet benefits.
If we do those things, then we are providing for the next generation—for the recovery and betterment of the future.
wendistewart@live.ca

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