Slow Money held its 5th National Gathering in Louisville November 10-12. Approximately 800 people convened for 2 1/2 days of inspiring talks, entrepreneur presentations and great networking. If you would like to watch for yourself, the entire event is available on You Tube: Day 1 included a keynote by Joel Salatin; Day 2 included a panel with Wendell Berry and Louisville mayor Greg Fisher, that told us in part why Louisville is such a great farm-to-table city, and a keynote by Vandana Shiva; Day 3 included the Entrepreneur Showcases. Watch and be inspired yourself.
Herb Moore, who with his band Elm Street entertained us at Farm Fest at Pie Ranch (2012) and at Farm Fest at Full Circle Farm (2014), is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of his new album, “River Time”. Support Herb and you can make sure that you’ll get your copy of the album.
What wonderful energy we’ve had lately. July’s meeting in our newest venue, High Health (thanks Mary Ann!) was energetic. Changes are afoot, look for more improvements to be gradually rolled in. Our new steering committee is coming together, and has begun to talk about more changes – there’s room for you if you’d like to join in.
Let’s keep the momentum going in August. We have a great farm visiting us in Blossoms Farm. We’ll do some business, take a look at the LION agreement, and expect great networking. See you there!
Slow News from the South Bay and Beyond
Friends of Slow Money South Bay appeared recently on Slow Living Radio. Peter Ruddock joined Brett Melone of California FarmLink and Sarah Lopez of Fiesta Farm (April 2013) to talk about the loans that FarmLink and some members of Slow Money made to Fiesta Farm last year. The podcast is available on-line if you would like to listen.
Last month Karen Diggs made the Kickstarter campaign for her Kraut Source device live just before heading off to join us for our meeting. She told us that she expected a busy month promoting the program in order to reach her $35,000 goal. She reached that goal in 3 days! It’s been a busy month for her indeed, but not with promotion: as of this writing the campaign has passed $140,000! There’s still time to join in and get your own Kraut Source as a perk – 5 days to go until the campaign closes.
When Christine Su and Jennifer Tsau introduced their PastureMap to us last month, they told us about winning the Common Bond Social Impact Award, which came with a $5000 grant, in part because of a contact they made at their first Slow Money meeting. They’ve been in the press a lot since then. Check out these articles on Fast Company, the Common Bond blog and AgFunder News.
On a cautious, and somewhat sad note, Peter Yessne has closed Monta Vista Market (April 2013), at least temporarily. Peter told us that while the market was doing well, it had not attained financial viability yet. He is looking for someone to pick up his lease and bring it to the next level. A group of residents is reportedly looking into turning the market into a cooperative. We’ll keep you up to date as news comes in – and connect you with Peter should you want to buy a market!
We had a great January meeting, hearing about Mercey Hot Springs and CropMobster. And talking with Full Circle Farm about a spring Farm Fest – we’re working toward verifying a date for this and will certainly announce something by next month.
We’re going to try something different in February: a themed meeting built around AB 551, the Urban Incentives Zone Act. We’ll hear from an urban agriculture business that has been involved in implementing the act in San Jose and wants to farm more land designated in new incentive zones. And we’ll talk about getting zones implemented in other South Bay jurisdictions. Should be interesting.
Lots of good things happened in 2013 in the world of Slow Money. We met many great companies and organizations and started to build a local sustainable network. Some of our members made personal loans to some local businesses. We are no longer just a talk shop. We’re getting things done.
We’re looking forward to an exciting 2014 – and we’re starting to see a new path forward. I’ve talked about creating a “Sustainable Food (and Green Energy) Rotary Club”, whereby our members get to know each other, make connections and partnerships, find customers, suppliers, contractors, venues, supplies and more – including occasionally investing in each other. This is mostly a change of focus, where the possibility of an investment is just one of many outcomes. This is in part a response to the reality that there are only so many loans our members can make, but there are other things that they can do with their energy to foster more sustainable businesses. I wonder what people think of such a change. We hope that you’ll join us and tell us what you think – and help us evolve.
StartOrganic presented their innovative new business. Their mission is to “get as many people to grow as much real food at their own home as possible.” As such, they offer a number of services to help the homeowner create and maintain an organic (of course!)backyard garden. Beyond that they are working to create communities around local, fresh, produce, including holding events much like the Local Garden Shares sponsored by Transition Palo Alto.
We also learned about more new SEC rules discussed at the Slow Money Northern California regional meeting, this time around Title III of the JOBS Act for crowdfunding.
In the past two years, Slow Money – LION South Bay has:
Gone through the birthing process, establishing itself as a community of folks wanting to support the principles of Slow Money, Transition, and a sustainable economy based on values of social equity and a healthy environment.
Developed agreements that govern our behavior vis-à-vis opportunities for investment and sharing information among friends.
Catalyzed “slow loan” agreements between some of our members and Fiesta Farm in Santa Cruz County, which allowed Fiesta to acquire Freewheelin Farm.
Met and learned about many sustainable, local businesses, their operations, their plans and their needs, including SunWork, a non-profit solar energy installation and training organization, Dig Deep Farms & Produce, a visionary urban agriculture program that combines an organic farm and community food sales in partnership with the Alameda County Sherriff’s Department, and others.
In addition to learning about these activities, South Bay – LION Slow Money is tapping into the research of Slow Money Northern California to learn about the details of local, sustainable, impact investing, and to meet more sustainable, local businesses in our region.
The momentum is building! We have entrepreneurs queuing up for spots on our schedule in the next few months whose values align with the principles of Slow Money and who are interested in talking with and exploring opportunities with us.
If you’ve been involved with Slow Money in the past, now is the time to renew your involvement. . . and, if we don’t yet know you, and you’d like to meet us, now is a perfect time for introductions all around!
Please come to our next meeting. If you’re interested but can’t make it, contact Mary Ann Furda at (650) 851-9126 or Debbie Mytels at (650) 856-7580.