We could say that people who “give everything to the present” in the belief that against all the odds they will be able to make meaningful contributions to the seemingly insurmountable social and ecological challenges of our time are today’s true existential heroes and heroines. The Field Guide to Investing in a Regenerative Economy seeks to honor them and their work through storytelling.
Since we launched our new Field Guide website last month we have been both humbled and energized by the conversations we’ve had with the leaders of projects and businesses around the country who responded to our “Share Your Regenerative Story” invitation.
These are people who forge meaningful connections where none previously existed. Jane Hatley at Self-Help Credit Union understands that if a community wants to build resilience it needs to put its money where its mouth is and finance the businesses that keep it firmly grounded in place. Sarita Shaffer of Viva Farms sees the tremendous potential of the immigrant agricultural workforce to power the economic and social transformation of our food system. Jess Daniel of Detroit Kitchen Connect, a self-described hipster, is willing to continually put herself in uncomfortable places because she holds two competing realities in her mind: the need to address the short-term health and wellness of the people of Detroit as well as the long-term systemic shifts required to sustain the health and wellness of people and planet in the long term. Tom Eggert sees in the success of Wisconsin Microfinance a way for academic institutions around the world to leverage their existing relationships in developing nations to empower the impoverished using the tools of microfinance.
No one of these projects exhibits all the qualities of the emergent regenerative economy we are seeking, but taken together they point the way. What’s more, every project leader we spoke to expressed a refreshing eagerness to explore with us where their projects needed to push the regenerative boundaries. In fact, they told us that exploring those edges was the most exciting place for them to work.
These modest, audacious, and ever questing people cannot help but make you feel that there is, after all, a meaningful regenerative scaffolding being constructed in far flung locations around our beleaguered planet and fragmented social systems.
We have more stories in our hopper, which we will continue to share. And soon we will have a map that will help illuminate the hotspots of regenerativeness. We hope you will engage with us by offering us more of your stories. In particular, in the next phase of our storytelling collaborations, we will be actively seeking out local businesses that have developed innovative collaborations with larger businesses that allow both to operate more regeneratively. That means we will be looking not only at the ecological impacts of these projects but how they infuse meaning and holistic value into the lives of their partners and into the places where they operate.
And while the Field Guide has up until now highlighted relatively small scale but replicable projects, in our next phase we will also be telling the stories of larger scale initiatives sponsored by larger corporations when they demonstrate the power to rapidly ramp up the regenerative economy as we are coming to define it. In other words, we know the road to the regenerative economy is a long one and we need to get there fast. We have no choice but to work toward it from the grassroots up, the top down, and everywhere in between.