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I learned a new word last week from Luke: pleonexia. So I thought I would share the discussion that ensued.In philanthropy and investing, I often hear family/board members carry the weight of:"I need to invest our assets so the mission (grant-making) can continue into perpetuity."Too often, what’s crouching right alongside that desire to evaluate the investment manager based on whether they’re getting that 8% percent return or not is what Luke Bretherton helps us see as pleonexia (greed). We were reading Colossians together when the greek word pleonexia first arose and that's what led me to be curious about the "vortex" that Luke described. In this conversation Luke brings Aristotle and Plato as well as the Gospels of Matthew and Mark to help us understand and better see our mandate as ethical stewards of endowment assetsLuke helps us unpack our primary call as Christians — to love God and our neighbor and together we try to apply that to the times in our lives when we do investing -- especially on behalf of foundations or family offices.Luke makes practical theology accessible. This is the work the Francesco Collaborative picks up on and develops further in our Livable Future Investing workshop community -- where we seek to lift up specific examples of funds, enterprises, investment opportunities where we can live out what's described here. My favorite part is in the last two minutes“This is not a condemnation…” Luke clarifies... and invites us into what I see is our most important work. Luke offers a blessing that invites us to truthfulness and forgiveness.For me, it begs the question: Am I telling myself the truth about my investments? In my focus on trying to get a 5% return -- am I subordinating my faith to the vortex of money begetting more money and not the good of the city... and my desire to love God above all else? Bretherton is Robert E. Cushman Distinguished Professor of Moral and Political Theology and senior fellow of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. Before joining the Duke faculty in 2012, he was reader in Theology & Politics and convener of the Faith & Public Policy Forum at King's College London. His latest book is Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy (Eerdmans, 2019). His other books include Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship and the Politics of a Common Life (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
Mark Watson spent 30 years in corporate and public finance. Several years ago, he started consulting for the Fair Food Network and Boston Impact Initiative and started seeing significant gaps in how most impact investing wasn't moving the needle on the impact they claimed they wanted to see. For example only one Black Farmer amongst many -- despite the program being about racial equity. In response, Mark started Potlikker Capital - - as an integrator. Where other lenders' credit boxes prevent them from extending access to capital (especially to BIPOC farmers), Potlikker seeks to  fill in the gaps, and organize capital stewards to see the transformation they could be about -- when there is a "Market Administrator" that sits in the middle and helps all parties stay focused on the core outcomes they're most trying to achieve. =====Potlikker Capital is a farm community governed charitable integrated capital fund created to holistically serve BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) farmers in America who operate at the intersection of racial and climate justice.Mark Watson is Co-founder and President of Potlikker Capital, a farm community governed charitable integrated capital fund dedicated to supporting BIPOC farmers at the intersection of racial and climate justice. Potlikker Capital is a supporting entity to Jubilee Justice. He also serves as Senior Investment Strategist, after serving as Managing Director of the Fair Food Fund, which offers catalytic capital with a social equity lens to improve community access to healthy food and increase wealth through more local ownership of the means of the production and distribution of food. He is also the founder of Keel Asset Management LLC, a financial advisory firm that provides socially responsible financial planning and investment advisory services to nonprofits, public and corporation pension plans. Mr. Watson started his career as a banker at the First National Bank of Chicago, now JP Morgan in commercial banking, corporate and public finance. He had a 30-year career which included managing investment portfolios for foundations, endowments, and institutional pensions funds. Most recently, Mr. Watson co-designed and launched an integrated racial justice capital fund, The Boston Impact Initiative Fund and managed the deployment of capital to over 30 small businesses. Mark continues as an investment committee member of the Boston Impact Initiative Fund; an advisory board Member of MIT/Health Innovation Systems Inc.; Director of Transition of The Institute of Educational Leadership; board president of Sustainable Cape, Inc.; and a former board member of the Social Venture Network. Mr. Watson holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance, University of Illinois Champaign -Urbana and a Master’s in Business Administration, The Booth School, University of Chicago.
Taj James offers a re-conceptualization of how we think about the financial resources we steward. And the ecosystems around us. And the choices we have. There is so much to be shifted. There is so much to acknowledge. To reconnect to wisdom, we need to listen to each other and to the Spirit. We need to bring our wisdom to all domains. We cut off the sacred from our business and investing domains -- unless we see how much fear is embedded.  Can we move away from the dehumanizing fear beneath racism, militarism and greed?Taj brings his poetry and spiritual depth to this prophetic excerpt.Taj James founded Full Spectrum Capital Partners - -- after 20 years building the Movement Strategy Center. 
What do you want to go do?  Have you taken a moment to take stock of who is here in the workshop alongside you? Together, the participants in this workshop steward more than $125 billion in assets. We also bring a diversity of capabilities and other resource types. Some of us might feel quite small in light of that big number, but might be able to lend our leadership, confidence, conviction. Even a small grant (a -100% investment), can be leveraged to de-risk much larger sums of capital to allow new pathways to get built. What do you dream of? What can you imagine when you see the different foundations, dioceses, religious congregations, catholic healthcare investors, associations, fund managers and others that are present here in this workshop? If we decided to speak with one voice, that could have a pretty powerful influence on many, many others. Recalling the envelope ritual from our first session, let's continue to put aside our fears, constraints, and obstacles just for this last couple weeks of this workshop. What collaborations can you imagine? We want to know your dream.We want to come alongside you and help make that happen.
"What excites you?" is the question Dr. Steph advises folks to start with when recognizing an "impact investing" journey can often feel overwhelming: the governance, philanthropy, public and direct investing implications. In this interview, Dr. Steph tells a couple powerful stories about a small foundation and a division of the Walton foundation and how through their work with her and the Impact Finance Center, they began to find new ways around the blockages that often hold us back. The role of the heart, and being "brave" capital stewards, figured more prominently than I had expected. Topics that get cover include full spectrum capital (understanding how powerful negative returns can be) to creating "T-ball" like environments (safe learning spaces) for capital stewards (or simulations) can help, to how her Impact Investing Institute (200 slide presentations and 75 recordings) can be a barnacle to any organization -- to help equip and support the restoration of an ecology that facilitates more impact investing. With a PhD in Forest Ecology, Dr. Steph has wonderful metaphors and specific words, we hope you'll be moved to adopt and contribute to the growing ecosystem. More info at:
Ownership Matters is a biweekly newsletter for the founders and funders of the emerging solidarity economy.In this preview of OwnershipMatters Issue 19, our Editor, Elias Crim, introduces the key articles: Editorial: Pitching Tents in a Hurricane - Business Start-up trends worthy of consideration...Interview: Cultivating a Cooperative Ecosystem - Molly Hemstreet of The Industrial CommonsBooks: The Economics of ArrivalCommentary: Are You Financing a Genocide? Cooperatives and DAOs -- blockchain and Co-ops? NPQ Event: Black Food Sovereignty — Thurs. Feb. 10You can subscribe to the newsletter here:
Tom Marthaler currently serves on the impact investing committee with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Tom spent 40 years in investment management. Most recently he spent 13 years at Neuberger Berman and was a named manager on several US-domiciled funds, including the $2.6 billion Neuberger Berman Strategic Income fund.In this conversation, Tom gives an overview of the different bond market segments and opportunities for impact. He starts with some distinctions in corporate bonds, then government and mortgage-backed securities. He also offers some helpful commentary around extractive and non-extractive ways investors can act  -- and how important flexibility can be. Towards the second half of the conversation, Tom also reflects on his experience as an advisor and offers some insight on how he encourages clients (investors) to ask their advisors about ESG and their impact aspirations -- and discern how far they've gone, how much they've thought about integrating these questions into their approach and process.The part I love best is where Tom describes what CST-embodied flexibility looks like -- and how we can be non-extractive in our fixed income holdings.
Zoe is one of the most talented leaders re-imagining the shared ownership landscape -- a vital part of non-extractive finance & the solidarity economy. She's currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at Schmidt Futures. She spent the past 10 years in impact investing after leading TechStars first impact fund. She's offers a remarkably helpful overviews of this growing landscape and provides significant encouragement for what we can all do to contribute.Topics include: Shared ownership landscape – market segments, distinctionsBuilding wealth for low and middle income folksSmall BusinessSliver TsunamiPerpetual Purpose TrustsSteward OwnershipEmployee Owned TrustsCommon TrustEmployee ownership Buyout -MezzDebt FundWhy Alternative Governance MattersA Community Family Office concept for unaccredited investors to invest in shared ownership.She concludes with: How we shape our capital is how we shape our lives, our families, our communities, and the places we live.
How can co-ops review our history in a way that acknowledges our mistakes, and boldly affirms resolve to step more intentionally towards Diversity Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEI&J) goals as a way of living more deeply into cooperative principles?As part of a DEI peer group organized by the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA), we organized a conversation with John Holdsclaw IV, who just founded an emerging Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) called Rochdale Capital. Over the past 15+ years, John has been the Executive Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the National Cooperative Bank. He offers context on his experience in government relations, community development, cooperatives, philanthropy, the struggle for racial equity, and  invitations for co-op leaders & investors. Some of my highlights from this conversation are in the last 3-5 minutes when John says: "The future comes down to two things: thought leadership & capital...""We need to put forth an effort to raise the level of visibility, advocate, fight....""CDFIs were once an idea, then movement, now it's an industry... We've lost the movement" "You know why the civil rights movement ended? Because Black folks got Air conditioning...""We need to get and go promote and talk about the cooperative principles."
As a way of kicking off Module 1: (Re)Awakening -- of our Livable Future Investing Workshop, Elizabeth begins by anchoring us in Catholic Social teaching (CST) and some key principles. Felipe then shares three principles for Bold CST embodiment in our impact investing along with 12 questions for diligence. After some discussion of Risk, Returns, and Impact (an essential 3rd dimension for faith-first investors / mission-driven investors), Elizabeth shares some proposed markers on the journey towards faith-embodied investing. A CST Embodiment scorecard is offered as one potential framework.Topics include transform finance, non-extractive finance, bold faith-embodied investing.=====The Economy of Francesco is a Vatican initiative & invitation from Pope Francis that has stirred the hearts and minds of tens of thousands of economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers over the past couple years. It’s now a global movement. Elizabeth Garlow, Felipe Witchger, Elias Crim and others steward the U.S. Hub of this Economy of Francesco – and it’s the inspiration for Elizabeth & Felipe’s creation of the “Francesco Collaborative” – and their support of a project with Elias the Founder and Editor at Ownership Matters. Felipe & Elizabeth also steward the development of FADICA’s Mission Driven Investing program. 
This episode is the first of three scriptural reflections that will anchor the biblical part of this workshop. Sarah Jobe (from Duke University & Interfaith Prison Ministry for Women) helps us unpack Zaccheaus as a potential model. Zaccheaus is curious about Jesus – he wants to see him – but as a tax collectors he seeks a safer, more comfortable space in the tree. Jesus looks straight up at him and says “come down!” We worship and believe in a God that doesn’t let us stay in the trees of our own choosing. Jesus invites himself over to Zaccheaus’ house - his oikos. In other words asking to be let into Zaccheaus’ household economy (oikonomia). Zaccheaus immediately(!) says Yes! He bravely climbs down from the tree and into the crowd that might grumble against him. Later, Zaccheaus stands up and says he’ll give half his wealth to the poor and pay back 4 times over what had been unfairly taken. The encounter with Jesus calls Zaccheaus into a different arrangement with his wealth. Sarah ends with “Leave no part of your life untouched by your call”Sarah offers us these reflection questions: What is your tree? Who is standing underneath it? When you look at the wealth you have access to – where is it coming from? On whose backs has it been gathered? Get down from the tree to be in the midst of those people. Jesus is already there. You can read more about Sarah Job here: here:
God tells Jeremiah to buy a garden at Anathoth – to do something that sounds crazy. Jeremiah responds with this long story about God’s goodness. The first thing we learn about investing in Jeremiah 32 is that we’re not called to invest in those things that seem wise. Given the facts on the ground as they stand – we’re called to invest in the futures that we believe are possible. We are called to invest in the futures we hope for. Jeremiahs’ investment even when he knows the city is about to be destroyed. It’s a sign….Listen to Sarah Jobe tell the rest.  This reflection goes along with the scriptural reflection for Module 2 of the Livable Future Investing Workshop. 
Sarah Jobe teaches, studies, and ministers at the intersection of prisons, Practical Theology, and Biblical Studies. She is particularly interested in the theologies that emerge from within incarcerated life and the theologies that support mass incarceration from the outside. Utilizing Christian theology, black feminist theory, collaborative ethnography, biblical studies, clinical psychology, trauma theory, gender studies, and queer theory, Jobe seeks bodied forms of thinking that have the power to fuel just and liberating practices.
What is a Christian to do with their investments? Luke weaves theology and political economy into an analysis of our moment — making intelligible the mega-trends of how we’ve gotten here. A Christian view on capitalism — “can’t accept it’s terms and conditions as good”.  Drawing on Jeremiah 29:7 — Luke says we’re “called to bear faithful witness within it and transform and convert it”.Starting with his background in a merchant bank to his professorship in Ethics at Duke University, Luke Bretherton unpacks the problems we’re dealing with today. He helps us see how the commodification of nature and people -- has led to our deeply extractive version of economic life. Then he introduces the Christian worldview -- and how Catholic Social Teaching doesn’t accept the terms and conditions of capitalism (min. 14). Luke then proceeds to talk about the two approaches: one that flows from economic rationality, cost-benefit analysis, efficiency, business bottom line, politics and society serve money — putting mammon before God, and the other that flows from integral ecology, drawing on economics as art, not a science; practical reasoning, not technical reasoning; and asks how do we provision for human flourishing?What is a well formed conscience in the context of investing? (Min. 21) Who are we listening to? Am I only getting counsel from the financial services industry with it’s autistic visions of the human? What if we return to Aquinas? (min. 22:20) Luke then talks about how there is renunciation of control — making oneself vulnerable to others — and recognition of interdependence. At Minute 26, we take up the question of power. Who has agency in our deliberative process? Luke gives the example of a group in Australia who didn’t divest from coal in the traditional way — but used a power analysis to understand the leverage points around insurance. Near the end of our conversation (min 31), we turn to debt — a topic Luke has written about significantly — and for which there is a rich tradition of christian thought. The conclusion: We have made debt poison for the poor and medicine for the rich. So what is a Christian vision inside of this reality?  How do I exercise my agency in collaboration with others? In my church? Felipe Witchger, Co-founder of Francesco Collaborative interview with Luke Bretherton, Cushman Distinguished Professor of Moral and Political Theology and senior fellow of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at  Duke University
Morgan Simon, Funding Partner of Candide Group offers a beautiful look at what her 20 years as an impact investor has been like and what she's learned. She summarizes the key principles from her book "Real Impact: The New Economics of Social Change" -- and which she's gleaned from her time starting as student activist at Dartmouth, to her stewardship of Candide, which done more than 100 deals and deployed more than $170 million in transformative impact investments. Most powerful for me was the last few minutes where she describes the power she feels when working with faith investors -- ones that really bring their love for humanity to the work. She tells a story about how we need to lead with our authentic selves -- and paints a picture of how some investors offering to be subordinate to others, can create catalytic opportunities.  
Too often we settle for a simple negative screen and consider our public equities portfolio values or faith consistent. ESG has added some more texture to these conversations. Adasina Social Capital takes it to a whole new level through relationships with directly affected communities. In relationship with social movement leaders, Adasina capital has built a public equities Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) -- with ticker symbol: JSTC that you can buy right now -- and do more for your social justice values than any other public equities option we've seen. Rachel begins with her own story and then shows just how much the cards are stacked against women and Black managers -- but when you see the returns of her index and fund, I think you'll be ready to consider some serious movement of your portfolio. Rachel Robasciotti
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