What if your investments reflected your spiritual values? What if you put your money where your heart is?
RSF Social Finance is helping pave the way for investors and entrepreneurs to incorporate their values and even spirituality into their investing practices. The company’s goal, as President and CEO Don Shaffer recently communicated at SOCAP 2015, is to transform the way the world works with money. Its way of doing this is by creating an entirely new model for investing — a model based on humanness and relationships, rather than the impersonal “business is business” approach of the current financial model. This new model is based on openness, transparency, aligned values, personal relationships and education.
RSF has worked to achieve this by creating an institution that functions both as a bank and a foundation. The company chooses to work only with social enterprises it finds to be inspiring and that need investment but may not be able to acquire loans from conventional banks.
“Nature should be valued for its intrinsic worth, over and above any economic factors. However, right now, we’re losing nature because we don’t price it in . . . (TEEB).”
What Are Ecosystem Services?
Earth’s natural systems are humanity’s “life support,” providing valuable services upon which our ability to survive depends. From the air we breathe to the pollination of our food crops, we rely on ecosystems to provide us the essentials for life. Ecosystem services have been described as “The Benefits Nature Provides (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).” The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment identifies 24 specific ecosystem services, and groups them into four categories: provisioning services (producing food, fiber, fuel, water, etc.), regulating services (regulating climate, air quality, water purification, pollination, etc.) cultural services (providing spiritual, educational, aesthetical values, etc.) and supporting services (soil formation, photosynthesis, water cycling and nutrient cycling) (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).
“All humans depend on services supplied by ecosystems, either directly or indirectly (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).”
Human life wouldn’t survive without healthy ecosystems. Humans are dependent on ecosystem service ranging from pollination of food crops to oxygen from trees and other vegetation. However, human activities are causing the Earth’s greatest extinction of biodiversity (the key to healthy ecosystems). “The observed rates of species extinction in modern times are 100 to 1,000 times higher than the average rates for comparable groups estimated from the fossil record (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).”
This mass extinction is a direct result of humans consuming and destroying ecosystems. Since the beginning of the industrial age, human populations have grown and individual consumption has increased. “Increasing consumption per person, multiplied by a growing human population, are the root causes of the increasing demand for ecosystem services (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).”
What is the risk of vaccination vs non-vaccination?
A few months ago a bunch of kids caught measles at Disneyland.  Scary. But, do you know what else is scary? In the aftermath of the outbreak, concerned citizens, health practitioners, government officials, the media, and mothers alike hurled insults at one another, accused one another of ignorance and deceit, and, in some cases, accused one another of murder.
It is not surprising, really. The stakes are high. We are talking about the health of society, the health of our children, the risks of tinkering with the human immune system, the risks of life-threatening diseases, and the risk of death.
Perhaps you believe there are no risks. Perhaps you believe vaccines are 100% safe, 100% effective, and those who believe otherwise are gullible victims of faulty science and/or disillusioned conspiracy theorists. Or, perhaps you believe the risk of an otherwise healthy individual contracting a life-threatening disease in the developed world is but fear mongering propaganda in the hands of corrupt pharmaceuticals. Either way, the data suggests otherwise.
While browsing my neighborhood farmers market on a sunny September afternoon, I met Rebecca King, a sheep dairy farmer and the owner of Garden Variety Cheese. Upon seeing the word “sheep” on the cheese label, my one-track mind immediately thought “fiber!” To feed my felt obsession, I quickly inquired if she happened to have any wool available. A bit surprised at my eagerness, King responded, “Why yes, I have way too much wool. Why, do you want some?” As we discussed her sheep and their fiber, she lamented about how much money she loses on the wool every year, as the annual cost of shearing (required for sheep health) is more than what she earns in wool revenue. We negotiated a price for a large bag of wool and the next week I walked home, smelling somewhat of a sheep dairy, carrying a huge garbage bag full of spongy felting wool. Continue reading “Envisioning a Wool Mill in California”→
A Quick Guide to Creating a 13 Moon Sacred Giving* Circle
You must limit your group to 13 women.
You agree to meet once per lunar cycle (each new moon or full moon) – every woman MUST commit to being present for circle EVERY moon for 13 moons.
At the start of the year, every woman puts her name on a piece of paper and places it into a jar (one woman guards this for safe-keeping).
Every month, when you meet, each women gives $100 into a pot (or cauldron).
During the gathering, share food, hold ceremony, share with each other your dreams, visions, and manifestations.
Every month, during the gathering one woman’s name is taken out of the jar and that woman gets to take home the entire pot ($1,300).
Continue this ceremony for 13 moons, removing one woman’s name each moon, until every woman has experienced receiving the $1,300 gift.
When you do the accounting at the end of the year (you can do on a simple paper ledger kept in the same jar as the names), make sure that each woman has given $1,300 and has received the exact same amount ($1,300).
Over the past few weeks a number of people have asked about legal and sustainable alternatives to the “Gifting Circle.” I have been hearing rumors about new “circles” that are “less illegal” and offer a lower entry fee. Yet, these are still based on exponential growth through recruitment of new members and promise a profitable return . . . which still makes them illegal investment pyramids and financially unsustainable. Continue reading “How to transform the “Gifting Circle” into a true Giving Circle”→
I recently posted a presentation about Women’s Gifting Circles. In just a few weeks, the presentation was viewed over 30,000 times. The feedback and response has been overwhelming. The vast majority has been very positive and supportive. The primary critiques of my presentation have targeted my credibility by suggesting that I “don’t understand the benefits of women’s circles” or that I have been “brainwashed by a patriarchal system.” So I have decided to tell the story that can’t be conveyed in a presentation. Continue reading “Gifting Circles – Building Sustainable Alternatives”→