Developments since workshop

Since Bioneers, I have had the opportunity to meet with MLUI, the Northwest Michigan Council of governments (NWMCOG), and Goldeneye Asset Management.

MLUI was not especially interested in a publication of either a coupon book or guide “how to” book of sustainable living/businesses.  Hans Voss was interested in the investment side of the topic – how to invest in local enterprises.  Hans has in the past and was again going to meet with the Chamber of Commerce, and mention Bay Bucks use, and/or involving the Chamber with further local economy discussions, but I have not heard of the outcome.

NWMCOG, Patty O’Donnell, had a meeting with representatives from NMC, Home Builders Green Build Committee, Several energy auditors, Chelsea Bay Mills from The CHANGE, Bay Bucks, Cherry Capital Foods and myself Nov 16th to discuss avoiding overlap of efforts of Green and Sustainable organizations.  Competing for attention and funds is a concern for many people.  The meeting introduced parties to one another, aired concerns, but no plan of action was formulated. 

There was a circular discussion of the assorted community calendars in use to various degrees.  North Sky Non-Profit network, the Watershed Center, Chamber of Commerce, The Express, and The Ticker from NW Business News were all mentioned – I am sure I am leaving out one or two more. The problem appears, according to Patty, is that not everyone uses the same one.  Or uses them consistently.  So similar events or events with the same targeted audience are still scheduled on the same day sometimes.

When no next step of action was laid out to deal with the issue of duplicity of effort, and the meeting felt lagging (to me)  I may have taken us off topic in getting into local investing, but my motives were good.  If shortage of funding is an issue for many non-profits, perhaps this type of thing (Green and Sustainable Enterprise promotion) is best done by the private investment, once the amount of attention is on it as we now have, thanks to a large part by Patty’s efforts and efforts of the Sustainable Business Forum, MLUI’s Taste a Local Difference program, and many, many others.
When asked if his organization could have achieved their same success as a non-profit organization, Lee Michaels from Cherry Capital Foods said no, they are successful because of direct accountability from the food providers to the end user.  Cherry Capital foods has provided an essential infrastructure to connect grower with users of their foods. 

There is simply no denying the incredible wealth of our society.  There is a shortage of lots of things, but rest assured money is all around us.  What is all that money doing is the question we should be asking ourselves.  Where are our retiremnet accounts invested? Our pension funds, if we have one.  Are they in NW Michigan? Maybe Michigan state? How about at least in our Bioregion of the upper Midwest?  Or rather, are they far away and diced up so fine we don’t actually know where our money is yet alone what it is doing.  That is an opportunity to build upon.  Bring our money home where it can work for us, where we can see it in action, THAT’S what will help Green and Sustainable. 

Goldeneye Investing, Zach Liggett and I also met a few weeks ago, he is pursuing the legal structure side of an investment group – what form should it take? LLC? Co-op?  Zack is too busy right now to deal with it, but looks to January or February to pursue the question.

I would like to propose a meeting of parties interested in local investing, to define our interests and get to know each other.  I am going to suggest Friday Jan 14th for a potluck and meeting of about 2 hours in length.  I do not have a venue, nor a preference as to potluck first or not.  I would like to hear from you – what do you want to do?  I live in Eastbay township off 5 mile road, and could host, but a more centralized location would be helpful.