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#88: How Slow Money Works...and when not to say "fiduciary"—Woody Tasch

August 20, 2019

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There is more to life than money. But even the investors who believe that sentiment continues to feed the beast, putting much of their capital back into a system that thrives on consumption. What if we considered the impact of our investments as much as the returns? What if we designed our capital markets around restoration rather than extraction? What if we put Slow Money into local food systems and made soil health part of our ROI? 

Woody Tasch is the founder of the Slow Money Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to catalyzing the flow of capital to local food systems, connecting investors to the places where they live. He is also the author of Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money and SOIL: Notes Towards the Theory and Practice of Nurture Capital.  Today, Woody joins Ross and Christophe to discuss how he developed the idea of Slow Money and explore the reasons why we can’t seem to get our money out of the markets and do something radically different with it—especially foundations whose investments are out of alignment with their missions. 

Woody introduces us to the concepts of innate value and shared risk, explaining how Wendell Berry’s ideas around belonging to a community inform his work on investing locally. He also covers the idea of blended value, weighing in on the non-financial aspects of sharing risk with farmers. Listen in for Woody’s distinction between agrobusiness and agriculture—and learn how Slow Money’s 0% loan program is growing a pool of capital and restoring soil health!

Key Takeaways

[1:13] Woody’s path to reversing climate change

  • 35 years in philanthropy, angel investing
  • Introduced to green revolution in 1979
  • Moved $75M into 750 small organic farms

[6:46] How Woody developed the idea of Slow Money

  • Greatest accumulation of wealth in history
  • Yet don’t take money out of system
  • Need to think long-term (generationally)

[13:17] Why few foundations align their investments + mission

  • Focus on making money to have more to give away
  • Bought into market growth as only way to grow assets

[16:34] Why divestment campaigns don’t totally work

  • Existing structure of foundations hard to deconstruct
  • Lose sight of innate value and shared risk

[21:58] How Woody defines shared risk 

  • Similar to CSA model (buy share of farm’s produce)
  • Admit to risk and take on piece, ‘all in it together’

[24:01] Woody’s insight around blended value

  • Continuum from giving money away to VC
  • Explore relationship with impact continuum

[25:27] Woody’s take on the non-financial aspects of shared risk

  • Neighbor’s barn burns down, loan money without interest
  • Investing in community makes innate value obvious

[30:06] What keeps Americans from realizing Berry’s vision

  • Urge to conquer, extract and exploit
  • Lack of belonging to places we live

[36:18] The difference between agriculture and agrobusiness

  • Farmers like Eliot Coleman = connection to land
  • Large-scale industrial ag (45 minutes/acre/year)

[41:52] Slow Money’s SOIL 0% Loan Program in Boulder

  • Individuals make annual donations of $250 to $50K
  • Grows pool of capital over time + builds soil fertility

Connect with Ross & Christophe

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Resources

Slow Money Institute

Email [email protected]

Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered by Woody Tasch

SOIL: Notes Towards the Theory and Practice of Nurture Capital by Woody Tasch

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center

The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture by Wendell Berry

Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher

‘Microplastics are Raining Down from the Sky’ in National Geographic

‘It’s Raining Plastic: Microscopic Fibers Fall from the Sky in Rocky Mountains’ in The Guardian

Video Game Addiction on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

John Elkington on Reversing Climate Change EP028

John Doerr

Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

Carlo Petrini & Slow Food

Jed Emerson & Blended Value

Joel Salatin

Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman

Eliot Coleman

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

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