Do It: Buy The Book in Nashville

In Nashville, pick up a copy of Slow Money at Bookman/Bookwoman in Hillsboro Village.

Support your local independent bookstore – unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to do so.


Fast Help for Slow Money in Middle TN – Short Version

Help Middle Tennesse gain visibility in the Slow Money movement that is sweeping the country.

VOTE for all 3 of Nashville’s entries in the Best Slow Money Business Competition.

Click HERE NOW and cast 3 votes for Journey To Bliss.
Then cast 3 votes for Nashville Grown, and 3 votes for F.E.A.S.T. together.

In fact, in you have more than 1 email address, consider casting 9 total votes with each address.

Then, please consider telling as many other people as possible to do the same…

Voting ends Sunday, 8/21 @ Midnight, so don’t delay.


A Few Slow Calculations for Middle TN

Nationally, Slow Money has as its goal:

One million people investing 1% of their assets in local food enterprises, within a decade.

On reflection, this seems to be reasonable goal – not overly ambitious.

A question comes to mind: As a percentage of the country’s and state’s most recent population figures, what would be the number of Middle Tennessee residents that would represent a proportionate share of the one million person target?

US population (2010 census):  308.7 Million
TN population (2010 census):  6.3 Million
TN as % of US population:  2.0%
Middle TN as % of TN population:  36%
(.02 x .36) x 1 Million = 7,200 Middle Tennessee Residents

Now, using $100K as an average basis for a person’s investable assets, 1% would represent $1000 per person.

So Middle Tennesseans would invest  7,200 x $1,000 = 7,200,000 = $7.2 Million

Let’s break it down a couple of different ways:
7200 people, each investing $100/year (avg monthly outlay of $8.33), for 10 consecutive years: $720,000 x 10 years = $7.2 Million
over the course of 10 years, 7200 people, each investing $1000, on a one-time basis: 7200 x $1000 = $7.2 Million

$7.2 million to support the creation and expansion of small food enterprises in Middle Tennessee. Feeding and rebuilding communities, the soil and the economy right in our own backyard. Sounds like a great starting point.

Soil as Economy | Economy as Soil

Excerpted from the prologue of Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered
© 2008 by Woody Tasch

Organized from “markets down” rather than from “the ground up,” industrial finance is inherently limited in its ability to nurture the long-term health of community and bioregion. These limits are nowhere more apparent than in the food sector, where financial strategies optimizing the efficient use of capital have resulted in cheap chemical-laden food, depleted and eutrophied acquifers, millions of acres of GMO corn, trillions of food miles, widespread degradation of soil fertility, a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and obesity epidemics side by side with persistent hunger.

“Food,” as the poet Gary Snyder observed, “is the field in which we daily explore our harming of the world.” It is also the field in which we daily explore the boundaries between investing and philanthropy. Using global markets as our guide, we choose commodity production over soil fertility, leaving the vast majority of sustainable agriculture enterprises with little or no access to either investment capital or philanthropic support.

While organics grows at 20 percent per annum on its way past 3 percent of U.S. food-industry revenues, and Whole Foods’ emergence as a Fortune 500 company heralds wider market acceptance of organics, the facts on the ground remain stark. Only 0.5 percent of U.S. farmland is organic. Only 0.1 percent—less than $50 million per annum—of U.S. foundation grants go to sustainable agriculture. Only 0.1 percent of the USDA’s budget supports organics. Roughly the same order of magnitude of venture capital targets organics, and most of that goes to organic brands that have limited relevance to the health of local food systems.

The challenge of re-integrating social and environmental concerns into the financing of food mirrors similar processes underway in broader capital markets and philanthropic arenas.

Socially responsible investing, mission-related and program-related investing by foundations, venture philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, local economies, consumer demand for organics and green products—these are the first stages of a more profound fiduciary realignment. Some of these initiatives remain incremental and ambiguity-laden. Others are indicators of more fundamental, tectonic shifts along the boundaries of for-profit and non-profit, shareholder and stakeholder, global investor and local citizen.

This process of economic and cultural transformation calls for a new prudence, a new urgency, a new vision of capital markets designed to usher in the age of restorative economics, integrating into the theory of fiduciary responsibility and the practice of asset management principles of carrying capacity, care of the commons, sense of place, cultural and biological diversity, and nonviolence.

One of the principal measures of our success will be the extent to which we have catalyzed substantial new capital flows to enterprises that create economic opportunity while respecting, protecting, and promoting the fertility of the soil.

Speed Kills

Excerpted from the prologue of “Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered”
© 2008 by Woody Tasch

There is such a thing as money that is too fast.

Money that is too fast is money that has become so detached from people, place, and the activities that it is financing that not even the experts understand it fully. Money that is too fast makes it impossible to say whether the world economy is going through a correction in the credit markets, triggered by the subprime mortgage crisis, or whether we are teetering on the edge of something much deeper and more challenging, tied to petrodollars, derivatives, hedge funds, futures, arbitrage, and a byzantine hyper-securitized system of intermediation that no quant, no program trader, no speculator, no investment bank CEO, can any longer fully understand or manage. Just as no one can say precisely where the meat in a hamburger comes from (it may contain meat from as many as hundreds of animals), no one can say where the money in this or that security has come from, where it is going, what is behind it, whether—if it were to be “stopped” and, like a hot potato, held by someone for more than a few instants—it represents any intrinsic or real value. Money that is too fast creates an environment in which, when questioned by the press about the outcomes of the credit crisis, former treasury secretary Robert Rubin can only respond, “No one knows.”

This kind of befuddlement is what arises when the relationships among capital, community, and bioregion are broken:

There is an appropriate velocity for water set by geology, soils, vegetation, and ecological relationships in a given landscape. There is an appropriate velocity for money that corresponds to the long-term needs of communities rooted in particular places and to the necessity of preserving ecological capital. There is an appropriate velocity for information, set by the assimilative capacity of the mind and the collective learning rate of the communities and entire societies. Having exceeded the speed limits, we are vulnerable to ecological degradation, economic arrangements that are unjust and unsustainable, and, in the face of great and complex problems, to befuddlement that comes with information overload.

— David Orr, as cited in Our Land, Our Selves, edited by Peter Forbes (San Francisco: Trust for Public Land, 1999).

 As long as money accelerates around the planet, divorced from where we live, our befuddlement will continue. As long as the way we invest is divorced from how we live and how we consume, our befuddlement will worsen. As long as the way we invest uproots companies, putting them in the hands of a broad, shallow pool of absentee shareholders whose primary goal is the endless growth of their financial capital, our befuddlement at the depletion of our social and natural capital will only deepen.

Wheels Beginning to Turn

Dedicated to catalyzing the flow of capital to enterprises that support soil fertility and local food communities in and around Middle Tennessee.

An excerpt from Will The Real Food Movement Please Stand Up? Woody Tasch’s most recent musings:

This enterprise that we are a part of, with its new organic farmers and the host of small food enterprises that are emerging to bring their produce to market, is about an economy that does less harm. It’s about rebuilding trust and reconnecting to one another and the places where we live. It’s about healing the social and ecological relationships that have been broken by hundreds of years of linear, extractive pursuit of economic growth, industrialization, globalization and consumerism. It’s about pulling some of our money out of ever-accelerating financial markets and its myriad abstractions—called, with more than a little irony, securities—and putting it to work near where we live, in things that we understand, starting with food—creating a more immediate and tangible kind of security.