The Stories We Tell our Kids

I believe that stories change the world.
The stories that we tell ourselves.
The stories our culture feeds us.
The stories that we tell our kids.

Once in a while, a new story breaks through.
Sometimes it even sticks in the back of my head.
It does it’s quiet work there.
It unconsciously shapes me.

When I read Audacious Ignatius, the bold perseverance stuck out.
I believe it could be part of why my daughter has persevered so joyfully
through all the transitions and challenges of the past year — and boldly confronts the world with hope each day.

I’m pre-ordering 8 copies of this new book by my college roommate:

Sorin Starts a School: Notre Dame’s Mission and It’s Master Tactician.


I want my son to live boldly such that his life might give rise to a new institution of formation.
Anything I can do to potentially increase those odds — that’s a good investment.

Allow me to save you the hassle of picking out a new book next time your cousin, colleague, or neighbor has a kid.

Give the gift of a story that might pierce through the noise.

Who knows… it might change the world.

You can see inside this book about the Founder of Notre Dame by clicking here.

Stories of pioneering figures — persevering through uncertainty are more important than ever.


Take a glimpse inside more pages of the book and order a copy by clicking here

My Money Transformation in 8 Steps

I was inspired by this Money Transforms website to share my own story.  

The reason I want you to transform your relationship with your money is two fold: 

  1. Your own liberation. For too long, I’ve been trapped by my relationship with my money. I’ve felt so inadequate because I didn’t have enough. Then when I’ve felt like I’ve had enough, I’ve felt so complicit in the violence and evil in the world because of where my money has been (my mortgage at Wells Fargo, my retirement in index and mutual funds that have Exxon, Bank of America, Mark Zuckerberg… Uber… Walmart, Duke Energy, Exelon, AT&T, Comcast — some of the biggest polluters and Trump supporters) — and some of my money is still in these places. But I’ve begun to sense a liberation because this month — for the first time in my life — more than half my money will be in values and impact aligned investments and credit unions.  I’ve finally withdrawn the majority of the money I’ve had in the big banks and big multinationals and I will be able to sleep easier at night, knowing that I’m investing in some of the most talented values aligned entrepreneurs and in business entities where investor supremacy isn’t the dominant paradigm. Investors are at the table, but they share power with workers, community, and future generations. In the co-ops that I’m now invested in communities of color and workers have a voice — in some cases they’re worker-owned co-ops that have been so successful they’ve raised money and grown. This is the kind of enterprise and investment portfolio I’m excited to tell my kids about… a portfolio of investments that might help bring into being a more livable future for my grandchildren.
  2. Co-op entrepreneurs need capital. The other reason I care about this is because I know the other side of the equation. I spent the better part of the past 12 asking more than hundred people for money. As the Co-Founder of a co-op, I’ve been raising money to grow our co-op (profitable for the past 4 years) into Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Connecticut. I was pitching an investment that pays 5% interest per year with full repayment in 10 years. I asked people that care deeply about the co-op I’ve been building and have poured themselves into it in other ways. So why didn’t they invest? They (and their financial advisors and trusted friends) didn’t have a framework for how an investment in our co-op fits into the rest of their portfolio. My hunch is that 97% of folks wouldn’t know where an investment in a co-op might fit in their portfolio — much less how to think about the due diligence associated with the investment to understand the risk and return profile for them to make an informed judgement. While I’m not raising money for my co-op right now, 6 of my very dear co-op entrepreneur colleagues (Greg, Jessica, Phil, Hays, Astrid, Molly) are looking for capital and I’d love to help them raise the money they need. In fact, I expect I’ll be spending the better part of the upcoming year or two helping them raise the money they need to actualize their visions. Some of that money I believe will come from larger institutional investors (religious orders, endowments, family offices). But I also believe that individual investors — folks like you and I — who care really deeply about this stuff are a critical piece of the puzzle in how we transform finance and investing in this country. The more you and I are willing to take bold action. The more I believe our churches, synagogues, college friends, neighborhood friends and others will hear about the amazing investment opportunities that are giving you a sense of liberation and joy. 

My Journey in 8 Steps

  1. I created an investment club. In 2016, after a good friend pitched us on a business he was building, my college friend who was in wealth management and I decided we were going to invest. I called up a bunch of friends and asked them if they wanted to invest with us. It was fun! I realized a lot of my friends also wanted to align their money with their values and our dear friend was evangelical about the regenerative business he was building. I made my first direct, private investment in a small business where I had a relationship with the owner and it felt great. 
  2. I named my feelings. I’ve felt angry, frustrated, trapped for 12 years. This started when I was 22, when I got my first 401k and realized I didn’t really have options to invest it in ways that felt like it aligned with my faith or values. I sucked it up and didn’t think much about it for the following 9 years… Then finally in 2018, I wrote about my feelings in a piece I titled: My Investing Turmoil. This was the beginning of me recognizing I had to do more than just one small investment in my friend’s business. I needed to do more if I was going to come face to face with the growing intensity of my feelings and the discomfort they brought me. 
  3. I made a Slow Money loan. Through a beautiful networking session facilitated by Slow money NC, I met a few farmers and food entrepreneurs and made my first direct $3,000, 3% interest loan in a local Black Bakery owner. Bobby was great. He repaid me each month and after a year asked for another $2,000 and after two more years paid them both off, then asked for another loan. I realized I could do more of this so I got some friends involved and we helped another Black entrepreneur raise the money she needed (and might have gotten from friends and family had she been white or if she had been raised in a family with wealth or class privilege). This second loan helped me develop an awareness of what reparations might look like. Getting to know this entrepreneur gave me an appreciation for how different life is when you don’t have the gender, skin, and class privileges that I have. 
  4. I made my first two co-op investments. Through my involvement at I got to know 6 super talented co-op entrepreneurs who were raising money. Because I got to know them pretty well through the accelerator program, I invested in two of them. Even though I knew it was risky, I also knew there was a small chance of some upside financially. More importantly though, even if both enterprises failed, the work they were doing was yielding such important field-buidling impacts, I knew others would come along afterwards and learn from their models  — bringing fair trade to wine (and farmers)…. And organizing uber and lyft drivers. Both sectors have such importance for our future. What was challenging about both these investments for me though, was that I had to be ready to really let go of the money. I couldn’t really invest very much because I knew I could lose it all. I had to be prudent and so while I could put a little bit of money in, it wasn’t nearly an alternative to more stable index funds or bond funds or mutual funds that still dominated my portfolio.
  5. I raised money for the co-op I started. After 8+ years of building the Community Purchasing Alliance, I for the first time spent a meaningful amount of time this past year asking for money. We got registered, created a formal offering document and disclosures and started taking investments. In this process, I learned intimately about the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules, the different types of exemptions to these rules. Why most private placement investments can’t talk about themselves publicly (or really at all — except in 1on-1 conversations). It was eye-opening to how hard it is to solicit investments from non-accredited investors. And then even going through the process of getting registered, I realized the uphill battle that small organizations raising capital face. 
  6. I started helping friends and learned even more. As I started to try to help friends get investments, I learned how much privilege I had in my fundraising efforts. I realized how many things have to align to make a fundraising effort (of a co-op or for a shared ownership fund) come out successfully. I realized the art of building and cultivating relationships of trust and building credibility with investors. I learned about Donor Advised Funds (DAFs). I learned about equity and debt. I learned about co-op funds, CDFIs, Credit unions. I learned how risk averse they all are and how hard it is for them to really make meaningful investments in “high-risk” start-ups or unproven co-op business models. I started to realize I needed to invest and shift more of my own money into real estate to balance out my concentration in early stage and small co-ops and social enterprises. 
  7. I learned about Kachuwa Impact Fund and fell in love. It almost felt like love at first sight — when I heard that 60% of the Fund’s assets were held in real estate and 35% were in mature, dividend paying co-ops and environmentally focused enterprises. Kachuwa was the perfect complement to my higher-risk higher return start-ups. It was an already built, well diversified, stable set of co-ops and non-extractive real estate investments that made my heart sing. The challenge was the only place I had money that wasn’t already tied up was in my 401k and IRAs. This pushed me to figure out the beauty of the Self-Directed IRA. I had heard about these, but had been dragging my feet on them because of the fees. Then a friend told me about a low-cost Self-Directed IRA that was trying to be the Betterment (low-cost online optimized) version of an IRA… AltoIRA. I tried AltoIRA and my friend was right. Within an evening I had signed a half dozen forms trying to move my old retirement accounts from Vanguard and Fidelity and my RothIRA from ETrade over to this new AltoIRA so I could make a meaningful investment in Kachuwa. The other challenge I had to overcome was going against all my friends and family members’ words of caution that I shouldn’t concentrate to heavily in this one fund. They cautioned against having more than 10% of my portfolio in any one single investment or fund in case anything unexpected goes wrong. I believe there is wisdom there, but I was just too excited. I needed to start to sleep at night — and knowing my money was put into these enterprises and knowing the integrity of the founder and President of Kachuwa — I knew what I needed to do for my conscience and for my kids and their grandkids — and for our world. 
  8. I’m refinancing my mortgage with a credit union. The appraiser came last week and hopefully before the end of this year, I’ll close on a new mortgage with Alliant Credit Union at 3% interest for a 20 year mortgage. Moving away from Wells Fargo has long been an ideal… and with interest rates so low — and with NerdWallet directing me to Alliant as the best online credit union — I’ve found superb service, and a fully online process that I was able to start right away and get quotes write away and everything I needed to move the process forward. It isn’t the bare bottom rate, but it’s within striking distance of the best rates out there — and I know my interest payments aren’t going to enrich and exploit and extract… but rather to serve. 
Morgan & Wael from Jeddah’s Tea — a Slow Money loan I made in Durham in 2019.

You ready to get started?

I created this short video today and I hope to create some more.

What questions or challenges are you wrestling with right now as you think about your next steps?

Would you be willing to share them with me? I’d love to respond to them in an upcoming video on this channel? Share in this form here:

Fill our this brief 4 question survey and we’ll keep you posted on the zoom link and other resources along these lines.

Join me and a group of others on December 4 at 12 noon to discuss.

Neighborhood Economics to Livable Future Investing: 12 Hints of an Emerging US Economy of Francesco

As we continue the work of mapping the growing Economy of Francesco movement ecology, I wanted to share a list of 12 nodes that have been on my radar.

What are you seeing?

Join us this Friday November 20th at 12 noon ET. We’ll get the conversation started with a pioneering farmer, an industrial co-op organizer, and one of the largest Catholic Impact Investors… but then we’ll turn to you for discussion.

At the end, I’m going to ask for your help to continue the on-going work of mapping this growing movement. 

RSVP for the Nov 20th 12 noon ET call here

I hope this list gives you some ideas as well as a sense of encouragement and inspiration.

  1. Neighborhood Economics: Healing our Communities. A new economy of interdependence is emerging all around us. Faith+Finance is convening a two day virtual gathering November 17 & 18th. I’ll be speaking at a session called “Everybody an Owner” about co-ops in the “Catalyzing Creative Capital” track (other tracks: entrepreneurship, religious assets in transition & creating culture of change). I’ll be joined by Gerg Brodsky from and Franzi from Project Equity.  Here’s a no-cost registration link for the full conference or the Wednesday Nov. 17, 1:00pm ET session.
  2. The Equitable Economy Fund (by is a much-needed equity fund (there are lots of great co-op loan funds out there) designed to provide capital that can accelerate the growth of cooperatively owned companies.  Investments will be sourced from the accelerator for seed-stage businesses as well as growth-stage/market-validated shared ownership businesses. Part of what makes me so excited about this fund is that I’ve spent the better part of the past couple years doing my own diligence on investments I’ve made in folks like Drivers Seat Co-op, Obran Co-op, RedHen Collective. If this at all sounds of interest, this Slide Deck is worth a quick glance. Schedule time with me here, if you’re ready to have a serious conversation about it. Chheck out the website for an overview
  3. Exit to Community is an effort to develop alternatives to the standard model of the startup “exit.” Rather than simply aiming for an acquisition by a more established company or a public stock offering, could startups aim to mature into ownership by their community of stakeholders? Through policy research, popular education, and partnership with interested startups, MEDLab Fellow Danny Spitzberg in collaboration with Zebras Unite are exploring pathways for making the answer a yes. Exit to Community: A Community Primer, is now available for free, digitally and in print.  Nathan Schneider writes more about it here: “Exit to Community,” Noema (August 27, 2020)
  4. Inclusive Capital Collective: A group of over 90 community fund managers and entrepreneur support organizations who have been designing and developing shared technical and financial infrastructure for aggregating and deploying capital and resources to BIPOC communities. A joint project of Common Future and Zebras Unite, and funded by the Surdna Foundation, the ICC is motivated by the need for better “plumbing” to drive capital to BIPOC entrepreneurs. Its purpose is to overcome systemic racism through the equitable access to capital. The ICC achieves this by aiding and amplifying the ingenuity of capital innovators and service providers. The ICC has just concluded a 6 month strategic road mapping process, and we invite you to join us for conversation about its next phase of implementation. November 17, 11 am – 12:30 pm Eastern (Register here); December 1, 1:30 pm – 3 pm Eastern (Register here).
  5. Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative (CIIC) is growing it’s set of resources, programming, collaborative due diligence, sourcing and other capacities. Founded by John O’Shaughnessy, CEO/CFO of Franciscan Sisters of Mary, there’s a great advisory board (including Jessica Cook, Managing Director of Ascension Investment Management who will be speaking at our  Friday Nov 20th 12 noon ET our Economy of Francesco call), and set of resources. Check out this Racial Equity Investing Call to Action (list of resources) to get a taste of their work.  
  6. Liturgy & Communion Economy. A new online collaboration between In My Backyard (a Catholic Worker House in Portland) and Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life. The free course is aimed at uncovering possibilities for a social economy of communion in our own parishes and neighborhoods. From Bert Fitzgerald, the organizer: “Opening our minds to see the Body of Christ as a living, social organism, and opening Scripture to see how its economic dimension has been lived and developed over Judeo Christian history.” (More details here.)
  7. Setting a Shared Ownership Agenda. Elizabeth, Jennifer, Phil, Todd and I spent most of August commenting on more than 200 blog posts from our 35 participants in this dynamic workshop. Here are a few of the many incredible posts: My Table and What to Do with It by Sarah McBroom, The Power to Amend by Andrea Miller,  Of Stone Soup & Spinning Wheels by Geoff Gusoff,  Unlearning and Doughnuts for All (Ken Reed-Bouley, Creighton University), Building Solidarity Economies (Geoff Gilbert, The Working World). Most of my Economy of Francesco organizing efforts were poured into two workshops Spiritual Community Building for a New Economy in April and this August Shared Ownership Workshop. This Shared Ownership workshop overview only begins to tell the story. The hope and sense of possibility I left August with are still overflowing inside me. We’ll be facilitating more workshops in 2021. Stay tuned in our Francesco Economy Slack channel
  8. Armchair Tour of Co-op Ecosystems. The Industrial Commons has been convening a dynamic network of cooperative developers to visit ecosystems from Spain to Finland to Quebec, and back again. The focus has been on the early stages of these ecosystems (ie – the Mondragon of 1955, not 2020). Elements we’ve been focused on include their infrastructure (finance, education, networks), context (policy environment, economic context, regionalism), and social capital (social identity, solidarity between institutions, community connections). Stay tuned for Margaret Lund’s research paper examining best practices across these impactful cooperative ecosystems. Let me know if you’re interested in my quick take on the Mondragon visit we had and I can share a draft of a piece I’m developing. 
  9. Reflections from Fr. Arizmendi (Founder of Mondragon): Elias Crimm, Editor & Publisher of Solidarity Hall is raising funds to publish the first English-language version of Fr. Jose Maria Arizmendi’s Reflections. The Spanish language version is incredible, but there hasn’t been a quality English translation until now. Elias has hired a great worker-owned translator co-op and you can see a mockup of the book here. Might you consider a donation to help Elias close the few thousand dollar gap to be able to publish the book? He’d be happy to send you a copy… Email Elias here. Please consider a donation to this terrific project.
  10. Zebras Unite & their culture-shifting Pivot to People. If you haven’t yet heard about this founder-led, cooperatively owned movement creating the culture, capital & community for the next economy… you’ll want to take a look. Their 2017 Zebras Fix what Unicorns Break rejects our overwhelming pursuit of Unicorns and argues we must work together like Zebras (in a heard). They’ve gathered more than 6,000 entrepreneurs, are developing alternative capital taxonomy, and are now transitioning into a multi-stakeholder co-op. I’m excited to be joining on the ground floor and hopeful for where they might lead us. 
  11. Let’s chat about our Personal Investing. Last month, I sold 80% of the money I had in the stock market AND made my biggest investment in co-ops yet.  I’m convening a few friends and colleagues to discuss our own personal investing on Friday, December 4 at 12 noon ET. Most of the time will just be candid Q&A and small group discussion about the things you’ve done that have felt most aligned and where you’re feeling the furthest from where you want to be. Join us with this zoom link
  12. Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is perhaps one of the most tangible manifestations of the Economy of Francesco. Through the annual November collection, CCHD brings in and gives out about $10 million per year. They fund hundreds of low-income community organizing & cooperative economic development projects. Their 50th Anniversary is coming up and they’re beginning to plan regional gatherings and are asking us to help. We want to recognize CCHD as one of the US Catholic Church’s most concrete manifestations of the Economy of Francesco in our midst. More to come in 2021.

Interdependence & the Movement Ecology We Need

I both love and have struggled with my partnership with Metro IAF.

My close relationship with Metro IAF leaders is the primary reason we’ve had success in starting a co-op over the past 10 years. Their power is undeniable. In the past few months, Metro IAF has helped our co-op to expand to working with organizations in 6 new states for our co-op PPE purchasing efforts

Diagram of the 160 organizations that participated in our June 9 group PPE purchase, which included 30,000 masks from Carolina Textile District PPE (of which Molly, Sara, Kathryn from this workshop are key leaders).

But IAF’s narrative power in capturing our collective imagination is weak. 

Sex & Startups, on the other hand, has narrative power and they’ve galvanized the Zebras Unite movement and harnessed online tools to build local communities of more than 6,000 members over the past 3 years. (Zebras Fix what Unicorns BreakNew Stripes for Zebras Unite and more here.)  

Using Ayni Institute’s Movement Ecology framework, I’d say Zebras Unite has been in the mass protest category. However, as of this week, they’re now in the process of transitioning to a multi-stakeholder cooperative and so I’d put them in the building alternatives category. 

Metro IAF, on the other hand is in the structure organizing category (see definition, here, which I think is illustrative of why this work is vital). While Metro IAF has contributed to building important alternatives, and doing on-going personal transformation, it’s their structure organizing that is their dominant mode.

Excerpt from page 15 of Ayni’s Funding Social Movement’s guide

My argument (building on Ayni’s) is that to be effective over the long term, we need all three thirds of this circle. And within the “Changing Dominant Institutions” third — we need all three — Mass ProtestStructure organizing & Inside Game.

More specifically, to be effective in seizing the moment we have with the set of interrelated economic, racial & other crises, we need real connective tissue between different parts of the ecology.

I believe we need a shared ownership movement that has meaningful relationships between leaders of mass protests (like Black Lives Matter, the Poor People’s Campaign (Rev. Barber picking up on Martin Luther King), Occupy Wall Street, Zebras Unite), structure organizing (like Metro IAF, Faith in Action, SEIU, WeOwnIt), inside game (like Biden Campaign folks, NCBA, New America), alternatives (like ROC USA, The Industrial Commons and other shared ownership enterprises, employee ownership and worker-owned co-ops, credit unions that live their potential…), and personal transformation groups (like leadership development from WeOwnIt, Slow Money, Liberation theology, Center for Action and Contemplation and socially-focused organizations that attend to peoples direct needs and project a vision of change rippling slowly outward as individual lives are improved).  (See my yellow Felipe’s Movement Ecology map below.)

Why do we need this connective tissue? 

When Hosni Mubarak was ousted as President of Egypt in 2011 because of mass protests, the leaders of those mass protests weren’t connected to the leaders of structure organizing groups or alternatives or personal transformation groups. Though structure organizing groups were very interested in getting involved and supporting the leaders of the mass protests, Mark and Paul Engler write in their book This is an Uprising, the leaders clashed too much and they weren’t able to build enough trust, so that when President Mubarak did step down, there wasn’t enough connective tissue in the movement ecology to draw on the power and strength of organization that structure organizing groups had — or the power for personal transformation groups — to rebuild the constitution and a new form of governance for the country.  This Egypt example is one of a couple dozen that are written about at length in This is an Uprising. 

How do we create this connective tissue that’s needed? 

I’m not sure, but I believe it’s in spaces like this workshop that we begin to get to know kindred spirits and identify ways we might be able to see value in each other’s work. I believe we need tangible actions that we can take together that give us a common experience, even if those actions are small. These specific experiences build trust and possibilities. 

I know first hand, from my experience inside Metro IAF over the past 10 years — that it’s difficult for established organizations to see the need for this kind of connective tissue. 

Metro IAF’s leadership is focused on their theory of change and it’s hard for them to see and build the trust needed to meaningful work with others from other modes. Trust is a difficult and slow asset to build. We must therefore, “Move at the Speed of Trust”  as adrienne maree brown teaches in her Emergent Strategy principles (summary of her book here).

As we think about this work, I share a map of my movement ecology.

I’m eager for your feedback and coaching, and reflecting back to me what you see. I’m eager to build more connective tissue between parts of the movement.

Seeking your advice on masks + 4 things I’ve found helpful

My family and I are finally starting to figure out our mask protocols. One basket has the clean masks, another one has the dirty ones. We wash the dirty ones a couple times per week. Each of us has our preferred mask for when we’re going to be talking to somebody. My wife has to attend worship services with lots of other people, so she wears a KN-95, which is safer, but more expensive and less helpful if you’re having to talk a lot.

What have you been learning about your mask preferences? 
I ask sincerely because the core of our work at the Community Purchasing Alliance Co-op is to learn as much as we can from folks we trust and respect, and then try to synthesize and distill it for others.

4 things I’ve found helpful or just learned: 

  1. What makes for an effective non-medical mask?  A 3-pager from Stop the Spread that describes the different dimensions you may want to be thinking about when buying and using cloth masks.
  2. Clear masks can help convey so much more than standard masks obscure. When we met my son’s new teacher this week, he was wearing a clear mask and it made it so much easier to read his facial expressions.
  3. Some masks significantly muffle/mute your voice. Others hardly do. My daughter had been given this really pretty mask that she loved the look of, but when talking to her new teacher yesterday, we all realized how much it muffled her voice, which made us sad because she’s so soft spoken anyway.
  4. There’s so much I still don’t know & am learning. Just these two anecdotes have reminded me how much I still don’t know about how to help my organization and my family stay safe while practically trying to figure out how to go about our work and our lives, given our new circumstances.
I share this in an effort to sincerely share what I’ve been learning.

Are there any recent insights you’ve gleaned that you can share with me that might be helpful to others in similar situations to you?

We work with church and synagogue leaders, school and college administrators, and many other community leaders.
The more you share with me, the more we can help share with others and help aggregate and build market intelligence, so that we all can be more thoughtful as we navigate this unchartered territory together.
If you’re looking to buy masks, wipes, plexiglass, signage, hand sanitizer or other PPE, we’ve been facilitating group bulk purchases these past few months and have learned a lot on how to make the process easy and help you source from Black-owned business, worker-owned co-ops, and suppliers that are offering good products at affordable prices.
My colleague Juan Francisco Hidalgo has been leading up these efforts and has been heroic in how many folks he’s given personalized consultations to — to help them figure out what makes the most sense for them, given that many Chlorox wipes and other products are still expected to be backlogged for a long time.
He’s happy to talk to you (email him at, if you need help, especially if you’re going to submit a meaningfully sized order as part of our bulk PPE co-op purchase — with the deadline of tomorrow, Friday. August 21
That said, we’re not perfect. We’re not experts, we’re just trying to help.
This might be our last co-op PPE bulk purchase.
Submit your order by tomorrow, Friday, August 21, 2020 if there are products on the list that might be helpful.
My personal favorite, and the mask I wear the most often, is made by Carolina Textile District.  (It’s the first item on the left in the 3rd-to-last row on our e-commerce website.)
Carolina Textile District is a group of small NC textile manufacturers that have banned together and saved 60 jobs in the process, thanks in part to more than 45,000 masks CPA Co-op members and partners have sourced from them. You can read their story on their website here and also see the other ethical essentials their Latinx worker-owned coop makes in their Collection line up.
Here’s a picture of me wearing their “Pedestrian Mask”:
Can you tell I’m trying to smile for you?
It’s the most breathable, easy-to-talk through mask, while being made from an antimicrobial BioSmart Fabric (also used to make scrubs) made by Miliken in South Carolina. It’s a bit of a premium product, but you know you’re sourcing from domestic manufacturers who’ve been paying living wages — and been able to keep their jobs because of our work together.
It truly is a success story that I’m really proud of.
Or skip straight to the ecommerce platform, and add your order to the hundreds of others by buying together to get the group volume discounts.
And, if you’re able, I’m genuinely interested to learn what you’re learning about masks — so don’t hesitate to just respond with a quick couple insights that have emerged from your past couple months of buying, wearing, and figuring out what makes the most sense for your organization and your family.

Cooperative Capital: Re-launching

One of the things I’ve been most interested in supporting is more local direct investment opportunities… especially ones that are open to non-Accredited investors.

Cooperative Capital has an approach to make it work (however they were blocked by the state of Michigan…).

The challenges they’ve come up against and the ways regulators have thwarted their efforts highlights how our current regulatory regime around capital is designed around screening out bad actors (and is racist in that it continues to perpetuate (& exacerbate) racial wealth inequality). We need a new (state and federal) regulatory regime to unleash community capital.

Cooperative Capital describes themselves as “a cooperative private equity fund that empowers citizens to pool their money to make promising investments within their community.”

Kwaku Osei, in his founding role, has been at the frontlines of this movement. Here is a 90 second video overview of what they originally set out to do:

Cooperative Capital is formally re-launching – they will be having a virtual “party” today at 630-730p EST if you’re able to join!

1 min intro from Kwaku:

For more on the broader movement, here’s the National Coalition for Community Capital (NC3):

Why draw maps?

I’ve been awakening to the power of visuals to help teams with decision-making.

Too often, we don’t have a common mental model and end up talking past each other. This is where I’ve found myself inside my own organization more often than I’d like to admit recently.

Today, Max Harper came to our Shared Ownership workshop and started illuminating a path forward. I put together this 10 min recap video covering a few topics:

+ Why think about power?
+ Why mapping and visualization tools might help?
+ How might it help you with group decision-making?

Screen Shot 2020-08-10 at 5.43.58 PM

So grateful

Here’s Max in our Workshop today:

Here is the google doc that gives an outline of the session Max gave today.


Here’s some of what it’s helping me with:

Image from iOS (2)
Here’s what I’m feeling most interested in working on. It’s an example of how I’m trying to draw more of where I’m at to help develop a common mental model with my colleagues.

Here’s the 10-min recap video:

Screen Shot 2020-08-10 at 5.45.15 PM



Thanks to all of our Shared Ownership Workshop participants for helping bring this into life. Shared Ownership Workshop - New Economy Imagination Praxis session

​I Sold My Entire Investment Portfolio One Hour Ago​

Okay, actually I didn’t…. yet. But this guy Tim Denning said he just did. 

As I read his post, I remembered how I felt when I was in  one of Marco Vangelisti’s workshops. The feeling of desperation to have my money be working for a more livable future.

So, I’m writing this post here to give myself the push to divest from the stock market and reinvest as much as I reasonably can before the end of September (giving me enough time to talk with my partner and others about it… :).

I’ve been thinking about and wanting to take my money out of the stock market for a few years (mostly for ethical reasons).

I started to get more serious when my smartest wealth management friend Jack told me he exited the stock market because he felt it was “frothy”. He instead decided to start buying down and paying off his mortgage.

I’ve taken about 1/2 of what I had in index funds out… (like Vanguard’s S&P 500 index fund — which is what my smartest friends told me I should do 3, 5, 10 15 years ago when I first started thinking about this when an employer made me put away retirement money…)

but now, I’m considering going all the way and taking a bunch more out of the S&P 500 and the stock market.
I’m probably not going to go to all cash like this guy suggests — but rather split the rest between a few places I really believe in:
  1. Kachuwa Impact Fund — founded by Blake Jones — one of the top co-op entrepreneurs of our time. He started Namaste Solar — a worker-owned co-op that has done phenomenally well. Amicus Solar — a purchasing co-op. A Clean Energy Credit Union — and now he leads (on a volunteer basis) Kachuwa Impact fund — which is invested about half in real estate and the other half in cooperatives or perpetual trusts — or social impact focused ventures —   (Side note, they just agreed to a $15,000 investment in CPA Co-op which pays  5% interest for 10 years).   Because I’ve been talking to Blake, I know he’s raising money right now — let me know if you’re interested.
  2. CNote — 2.5% –  this invests in community development and women-led & women-owned enterprises.
  3. RSF Social finance – 1% –
  4. Other start-up co-ops and social enterprises that have big chances to change the world…
Here’s the post that prompted me to write this:

I Sold My Entire Investment Portfolio One Hour Ago​ by Tim Denning

Do you agree with Tim’s analysis about the stress it causes?

Usually I don’t think about it, so I don’t feel stressed. But when I do look at it and think about it — I feel intense turmoil (as I wrote about in My investing Turmoil).

What are you thinking?

What have you invested in recently that felt much more aligned with your values?

Am I crazy? If so, I’d love to hear.

The Core of the Workshop Experience

I’m hearing some folks who couldn’t join the Q&A ask this question:
What parts of the workshop do I need to commit to?
The current schedule / Weekly Cycle for the Shared Ownership workshop is this:
    1. Sunday: Prompt for the week released by 7:30am ET

    2. Monday: Large Group Gathering, likely 12pm ET / 9am PT

    3. Tuesday: Post is due

    4. Wednesday: Learning Group Meeting, 9am ET or 12 ET or 8pm ET (alternate time may be available)

    5. Thursday: Comments are due

    6. Saturday: Reflection Scripts are due

CPA - Shared Ownership Workshop - Weekly Cadence (1)
We’d like everybody to commit to joining the “Learning Group” (five people) meeting times on Wednesdays (choosing the time they can commit to for the 4 weeks of the workshop).
The large group sessions (on Mondays, final time will be determined tomorrow July 22 and shared in a welcome email) are optional.
In other words, we’d love you to join the workshop, if you are committed to showing up and doing the main bodies of work:
  • 1. Writing a post each week
  • 2. Showing up to your learning group meetings ready & eager to learn & grow & develop the posture of shared leadership & change-making
  • 3. Comment on at least 4 other peers work each week
If you are ready to show up and do those three pieces each week — we’d love to have you.
The other parts of the workshop (your reflection script which seals the learning; the large group sessions which help you build relationships across the workshop) are less essential to the core of the workshop experience… though we very much encourage them to get the most out of the experience.
Apply by June 21 at midnight local time.
And to be clear… this workshop is about advancing your own work — whatever project(s) you’re working on right now. The hope is to give you space to write about that work in response to our weekly prompts — and receive (and give) generous feedback.

Exhilarated by This Workshop Cohort

It’s hard to describe how exhilarated I feel right now.

The cohort for this Shared Ownership workshop is bringing together some of the most powerful & influential people I’ve met this past decade.
The workshop format integrates insights from some of the most influential experiences and learning spaces I’ve ever been a part of.
The deadline for applications to join us is tomorrow, July 21.
Screen Shot 2020-07-20 at 12.46.24 PM
The cohort includes:
  • leading shared ownership practitioners (i.e. Molly & Sarah co-founders of The Industrial Commons)
  • top influential US cooperative movement leaders (i.e. Doug O’Brien, Paul Hazen, Nathan Schneider)
  • investors that are re-shaping the way we think about risk & return as well as impact, legacy & a livable future (i.e. Marco Vangelisti, Essential Knowledge 4 Transition)
  • cutting edge community development & community ownership leaders (i.e. Jennifer Bryant, Alison Powers, )
We’re also drawing in:
  • young entrepreneurs taking the tools of private equity and applying it tackling the racial wealth gap through employee ownership (i.e. Phil & Todd from Apis & Heritage Capital Partners)
  • movement leaders from Zebras Unite, who are countering existing startup and venture capital culture by creating alternatives.
  • wise leaders from spiritual & religious traditions who are thinking on time horizons and scale of impact — that most of us are just starting to dream of (Myra Jackson, Sr. Corinne Floreck; Ryan Strode, Fr. Seamus Finn, Elizabeth Garlow)

The workshop brings together frameworks from movement organizing, cooperative economics, finance, leadership science & change-making & what’s at stake in this moment.


The Workshop Format

The format for this Shared Ownership workshop creates space to advance your own project and get feedback from generous peers reflecting back to you what they see.
We introduce frameworks for leadership & movements for change; but flip the traditional format. The vast majority of your time is interacting with peers and/or doing your most important work.
If you’re hungry to know how shared ownership companies work, legal structures, investment vehicles…. We will have prompts and reading lists that will point you towards those resources. However, the focus will be on creating an environment where you can interact with peers — who are some of the top leaders in their respective fields.  In other words, the workshop isn’t about what technical knowledge you’ll obtain, but a deeper self-awareness of how the culture changes and what you need to learn next. It’s about how ideas spread and how change happens. We focus on how you can develop what you have to offer for even more transformative impact — because of the relationships & community we’re bringing together in this cohort.
Applications are due, tomorrow, July 21 by midnight.
Workshop runs August 1 through 29, 2020
Details here and here. Q&A video here or here.
Detailed invitation document

My invitation to you

Friends, as we face pandemics and economic crises, we also face an opportunity to do the work that could shape this decade and this century.
I believe you are the kind of leader we need at the center of this work.
Do you believe in yourself enough to take the leap and commit to your most important work?
We’re here for you when you’re ready.

List of Confirmed Workshop Participants

  1. Doug O’Brien, CEO, National Cooperative Business Association
  2. Paul Hazen, Executive Director, US Overseas Cooperative Development Council, former CEO, NCBA CLUSA
  3. Sarah Clark McBroom, Equity Officer at Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
  4. Sr. Corinne Floreck, former Portfolio Director, Religious Sisters Impact Fund
  5. Myra Jackson, United Nations Representative, Biosphere consultant
  6. Ryan Strode, Franciscan Sisters of Mary, formerly Arabella Advisors
  7. Marco Vangelisti, Impact Investor, Slow Money, EK4T
  8. Molly Hemstreet, Co-Executive Director, Opportunity Threads, Carolina Textile District
  9. Kevin Jones, Co-founder SOCAP, Co-founder, Faith+Finance
  10. Eli Andrews, Accelerate Change 
  11. Fr. Seamus Finn, President, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
  12. Elias Crim, Solidary Hall, & US Economy of Francesco
  13. Kyle Johnson, Business Services Collective
  14. Alison Power, Capital Impact Partners
  15. Sara Chester, Co-Executive Director, The Industrial Commons
  16. Dr. Tina Facca-Miess, Inspired Foresight 
  17. Jennifer Bryant, Washington Area Community Investment Fund
  18. Elizabeth Garlow, Deputy Director, New America’s New Practice Lab
  19. Phil Reeves, Partner, A&H Capital Partners, Board Member, DC Black Chamber of Commerce
  20. Todd Leverette, Democracy At Work Institute, Partner, A&H Capital Partners

 “As a result of the authenticity and skill of the facilitation, I and every group member were surprised by how quickly we were able to drop into high-trust sharing and collaboration. The amount that we got “figured out” in a short amount of time was remarkable, life changing for many of us, and potentially world transforming.”

~ Sam Hummel, former CEO, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (Participant in April 2020 Workshop)