Talked to Jerome Bouillon, my friend and neighbor in Asheville and former structural banker about what the kids led savings bond Ejido Verde is contemplating should look like. He suggested carving out 60 cents on the dollar for something that would guaranty the return of capital, like a t-bill. So the kid would have no risk of losing her money; she would get it back. Then she would allow the other 40 cents to be put at total risk, like equity, for return at harvest, to do something big and good.
That 40 cents could wait for return, and with its long time horizon could afford to pay for capacity or infrastructure now that would create more value later. Oddly I am looking at that 10-year time horizon as our mutual insurance product that the neighborhood economics network is building. We think we could derisk these new opportunity zone funds through culturally literate community engagement to allow productive long-term partnerships that create more value starting in 10 years. Ten years, just like in pine resin. They can’t take it out for 10 years and then they cannot just extract it. It will be based on revitalized real estate in urban neighborhoods or rural towns.
We could probably structure a kids bond on some of that urban work, alongside our mutual insurance product which is derisking via capacity building with a loan loss reserve 25% above historical failure rate to start with. That reserve enables us to fund capacity now, as a way to reduce risk 10 years out. So we hire a system entrepreneur and give her a budget.
We’ve got a $75 to $100 a week, 5-7 hours social media gig, telling the story of regenerative reforestation, indigenous wealth creation at market rate over the long term. with can evolve into a role in an event in May called Regenerative about regenerative economy and culture, with the Buckminster Fuller Institute with Amanda Joy Ravenhill leading it, relaunching Space ship earth. It’s the BFI challenge meets Clinton Global Initiative; come like Terragenesis and launch your blockchain for carbon, but the cohort wins, not one winner, and we create the network to help them succeed with funding, support of various kinds, linked to the SDG’s as key markers. UNDP doing creative stuff in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova on this one, too.
This is a ground floor gig on the next big thing. Impact investing will be a part of the Regenerative platform, but its not about impact investing. Hours flexible. Only the passionate need apply.
This is where I will start to put together, thoughts, partners, and the evolving framework of the kids-led riparian justice biodiversity bond. We are basing it on the real world example of biodiversity as the path to justice for indigenous people in Borneo that is told in the movie Rise of the Ecowarriors, with longtime partner in crime Mark White and Cynthia LaGrou of Compathos a film making and distributing foundation. We have parts of the team. We want to build use place-sourcing and pattern recognition to build regenerative communities within a network where peer learning and emergent adaptation thrives.
This bond is part of the Neighborhood Economics project, which has been given skunk works R&D funding for the past nine months by Good Capital, where I, Kevin Jones, lead portfolio company engagement. We will be talking about the progress toward the bond at SOCAP15, the largest social enterprise meets impact investor, meets development agency, meets foundations conference in the world, the place where people discover unlikely allies as they meet surprising but valuable strangers.
The Caltrope project is really mesmerizing (no surprise, since it’s the brainchild of a Hungarian conceptual installation artist). Let’s jump ahead and assume we could figure out how to produce it cheaply and in volume. To pay for it we move into the world of long term project finance, which I know nothing about. What’s the net present value of the future cash flows enabled by filling in the soil at the edge of a fragile and eroding delta like that of the Mississippi? What are the upstream benefits?
And then how do you sell bleeding edge promising technology, assuming you found enlightened economic development and conservation players who would see its value and the need for its deployment with an agile need for speed and with an entrepreneurial fail-forward attitude, since you are doing alpha tests of technology trying to get to a product that works in a reasonable amount of time? They would need to know they need to fund product development.
It would take someone with a lot of patience to do that, to keep explaining the concept, as you move up the desks from your initial entry into an agency. I’ve done that several times, but it can take, in my case, up to 18 months to get what I wanted even when the value for participating was totally clear.
I don’t have the patience for that today. And I was not as good as it as someone with a more patient temperament would be, someone who can be happy with slogging upward and getting incremental steps forward. That’s a great thing to do. I’ve done it, but am too old and impatient for larger long term change to tie myself down to that kind of process now. But if someone stepped up to do it, to productize Caltrope, I would help.
This video by a Vancouver art student group is a good overview of the value of #biodiversity, but seeing it makes me realize how much I like Richard Branson’s method of branding biodiversity.
Richard Branson’s Biodiversity Branding Formula has five elements. Start with A. an at risk animal that’s cute or magnificent (for biodiversity, cute and exotic may trump charismatic megafauna (lions, hippos, etc.) The big animals are usually seen alone; the small animals are believably dependent on context; local habitat, and ecosystem. Then it says B. We are starting to make a difference; we are protecting its habitat, it’s coming back in some places. Next he says C. That it’s safe to give to this country or region; there are fair elections on the way, or some other validator so that people won’t be afraid to give or get involved there. The rule of law is essential for biocultural diversity. That’s why the confluence this September of the UN and International Funders for Indigenous People annual conference and the first ever real time meeting of representatives of indigenous nations and the nation states of the UN is so important and why I plan to be deeply involved in those September gatherings.
Then there is D. a brief mention of the fact that biodiversity is good for people, too. But you don’t sell that too hard; you don’t lead with it. I’ve learned in seven years of involvement with Fair Trade companies, that the message of linking poverty alleviation is not one you lead with if you want to talk to a broad audience. It doesn’t resonate well with people beyond a core group of justice seekers.
There could be a greater link with faith based people in the U.S. on this, as there is in the UK. The tragic failure of Fair Trade USA to make this a key component of their message has to be overcome. In the UK, 83 % of grocery store buying decisions are positively impacted by fair trade as a factor. In the U.S. it’s under 10 % largely, I think, in the UK the governing fair trade organization linked faith based people with activists, while in the U.S. the leadership was only about motivating activists. Until the church and the secular justice activists effectively link up, selling justice as a key reason to get important things done will lag behind using environmental motivations.
Finally, when you look the pictures on Branson’s project on Pinterest, E. the money line appears; not in the story. There is no intrusion into the story experience of Branson’s business reasons for being involved in biodiversity (whatever his personal reasons are). That’s the way to sell. Let the cute animals lead the way. Follow with the reassurance that it’s safe to give and that there is reason to hope, mention the people in passing, and leave the money pitch until the story is finished and has gotten its proper reaction.
In this post on the Virgin site savvy marketer Richard Branson outlines what is probably an effective way to reach the masses with the concept of biodiversityYou hold a cute animal, talk about the sadness of its loss, then say it’s safe to give and care about the country (in this case, Madagascar) because the next elections will be free and fair, and wind up by saying biodiversity is ALSO good for people. No irony there; there are many more lemur lovers with many more dollars than there are people who take action to care about poor people. There is also a documentary video
Pitches about biodiversity probably need that charismatic fauna appeal to get people to pay attention. Crises and now, with biodiversity as the goal, opportunities focusing on primates and megafauna (rhinos, elephants, lions, etc.) have proven to be effective to get people to take action. Virgin’s autopopulated pinterest tagline says “biodiversity is vital to development.” Which also brings in business utility.
The post also mentions the upside of ecotourism, which Branson’s airline is obviously in favor of. The pattern of the pitch, from cute animal, to trusted place to give to (part of the Victorian need to only give to the “deserving poor)”, followed by the payoff for the people and closing with the upside for the local people and ecosystem of ecotourism is one that I think could work as a template for other places.
And the hidden message, encapsulated in every pinterest picture from the site, that biodiversity is good for development, is probably situated in the right place within the story’s frame.
The Rockefeller Foundation, which is funding chief resilience officers in 33 cities, 11 in the U.S., six of which have Impact Hubs, is making its blog a good source of news and commentary about resilience.