By Sherman Eagles
Even though I recycle and compost, drive less and eat local, it is quite likely my retirement investments are helping companies that counteract my efforts. Despite trying to keep my investments out of coal, oil and pipelines, the multinational corporations that are part of my portfolio may be involved in questionable activities that I know nothing about. Even when investing in socially responsible funds, my money still goes out of our community instead of staying here.
Transition Town—All St. Anthony Park (TT-ASAP) is forming a group to discuss ways to keep our investments in the Twin Cities, and even more closely, in St. Anthony Park—building a stronger community with a smaller carbon footprint while making a return on our investments that is “enough.”
If you are interested in exploring possibilities, join us on Monday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. at Lori’s Coffee House, 1441 N. Cleveland Ave.
Some areas we will be investigating:
- How can individuals and couples roll over money in their existing tax-restricted retirement accounts to allow for investments closer to home?
- Can we band together to create a cooperative real estate investment group, similar to the one in Northeast Minneapolis?
- Does anyone want to form an investment club or a chapter of Cooperative Principle, in which people invest a relatively small amount of money each month into a group fund that will be invested locally?
- Can we form a local, nonprofit Community Investment Fund that can borrow money from patient investors and loan it to local businesses and organizations?
- What other ways can we think of to divest from damaging national corporations and invest in local small businesses?
We are inspired to start this work by efforts in Totnes, England, the home of the international Transition Town movement. In Totnes, a group called the REconomy Project has been connecting local investors with locally owned businesses since 2011. Totnes has a population of about 8,500, roughly the same size as St. Anthony Park, and has raised more than $110,000 of investment. The 170 local citizens involved so far have funded 27 local enterprises that contribute to the area’s economy and fulfill social and environmental aims.
What works in one town or neighborhood may not be the right approach in another. It will be necessary to look closely at what others have done and think about how that might apply to St. Anthony Park.
So far, we have the most information on the idea of creating a real estate investment co-op, given the success of the Northeast Investment Co-op (NEIC). The NEIC is the country’s first commercial-property investment cooperative, with one building bought and renovated and a second in the middle of purchase. Minnesota’s co-op laws create an opportunity, and St. Anthony Park seems like an area that could benefit from community ownership of commercial or residential buildings. Let’s figure out how to do it!
Forming a local Cooperative Principle group is another possibility that is clearly defined already, and which we could replicate. CP groups generally have 10 to 20 members who meet to decide how to invest the money they put in each month. The groups combine a social gathering with investing, primarily in co-ops that sell dividend-paying stock or are looking for member loans in order to expand their businesses.
There is a lot to figure out; we are just beginning this work.
If you wish you could make your money walk your talk, join us Nov. 13 as we start this new way of bringing our money back to the neighborhood and the city for sustainable investments.
Sherman Eagles has lived in St. Anthony Park for 45 years and is part of the TT-ASAP planning group. Contact him for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Economy group meeting
Monday, Nov. 13, 7 p.m.
Lori’s Coffee House, 1441 N. Cleveland Ave.
Cooperative Principle: http://thecp.coop
The NEIC: http://www.neic.coop
Totnes REconomy Project: https://reconomycentre.org
Transition Town—ASAP: http://transitionasap.org