Next Economy Interview Series - Jessica Prentice on Increasing Your Social and Environmental Impact

LIFT partner Kevin Bayuk interviews Jessica Prentice, inventor of the term "Locavore" and founder of Three Stone Hearth--a cutting edge community financed, worker-owned cooperative enterprise in Berkeley California. Jessica and Kevin discuss the deliberate investments Three Stone Hearth makes to create social and environmental impact, both in the community and foodshed, and also within the company itself.

Listen by clicking on the image above. You can also listen/subscribe to the Next Economy Interview Series on your favorite podcasting platform, including: iTunesStitcher, and TuneIn.

Next Economy Interview Series - Best Practices in Cultivating a More Diverse Workforce

Ryan Honeyman, Partner at LIFT Economy, and Phil Clark, COO at Exygy, discuss white men and diversity, how Exygy got to 50% women in the tech industry, and why diversity is not a "should," but a fundamentally better way of doing business.

Listen by clicking on the image above. You can also listen/subscribe to the Next Economy Interview Series on your favorite podcasting platform, including: iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

Next Economy Interview Series - How Women Entrepreneurs Can Raise Mission-Aligned Capital

Jenny Kassan, Founder of LIFT Economy Law, describes how mission-driven women entrepreneurs can raise the "right" type of capital from investors. Jenny discusses direct public offerings, pitching to mission-aligned angels, and how new crowdfunding rules are creating more opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

 

 

2016 Webinar Series: Secrets of B Corp Consulting

People often ask "how do I become a B Corp consultant?"

Ryan Honeyman (LIFT Economy) and Matt Mayer (Conscious Brands) have teamed up on this four part webinar series to provide a succinct, step-by-step overview of the tools, resources, and best practices ideas we have learned about B Corp consulting.

This course starts in late January, 2016. Please click here to register and/or learn more.

LIFT Your Economy - Keep California Full of Sheep!

The Economic Development and Financing Corporation (EDFC) of Mendocino has launched the Mendocino Wool Mill Campaign that has raised more than $160K from small, main street investors in their first 2 months.

Considering giving garments this Christmas season? Consider supporting your local Fibershed by buying one (instead of 10) handcrafted things from local artisans at the Fibershed Marketplace. Or, purchase california-grown fabric and a pattern to make your own.

Then, there’s also the idea of investing your dollars to support Fibershed-friendly infrastructure. With CA producing more than 3 million pounds of wool annually, we do not lack the raw materials. What we are missing is adequate processing infrastructure to efficiently turn that raw material into fine thread, and then fabric.

The Economic Development and Financing Corporation (EDFC) of Mendocino has launched the Mendocino Wool Mill Campaign that has raised more than $160K from small, main street investors in their first 2 months! If it gets funded, it will be California’s first wool mill capable of creating fine wool thread (or top) that can be made into fabric that everyone can afford.

Jenny Kassan, who has just joined the LIFT Economy team, has been working for almost a decade building awareness (and a movement) around Direct Public Offering (DPO) campaigns. DPO’s are financing mechanisms where a company can solicit investments from wealthy & non-wealthy investors alike (they don’t have to be accredited). This allows entrepreneurs to galvanize community buy-in and support to raise funds for an unconventional idea that might never fly otherwise.

What is so important about a DPO? Three things:

  1. Accessibility. It allows even non accredited investors to rally their funds together to make large-scale impact, in the words of 350.org, putting people power first.

  2. Quality over quantity. DPOs tend to attract investors concerned with the quality of impact. Because the investment opportunity is open to everybody, the company has more bargaining power to stay true to their mission & ideals.

  3. Infrastructure for the people, by the people. Contrast this to the national trend towards privatization of public infrastructure which Naomi Klein so eloquently describes in her new book, This Changes Everything.

My two favorite pieces of a just and ecological transition: Fibershed + Community-funded infrastructure!

What is so special about this particular DPO campaign? What are the on-the-ground implications of having a local wool mill for our community? The ripple effects are VAST. In addition to helping locally-grown garments make it to market at a price that is affordable to all, the wool mill would provide sustained revenue streams for our farmers and land stewards who will be able to sell their raw wool for a premium price, weaving their high-quality fibers into production processes of the conventional garment industry.

Additional revenue is meaningful to folks who are struggling to eek out a living on California land whose pricetag is quickly increasing, outpacing land stewards’ ability to extract enough wealth to keep up. But we don’t want them to extract more, wool is the ultimate regenerative product, so by processing their wool (which much of it is currently being landfilled) they can regenerate more revenue while making a bit more money to sustain their work. This means, you guessed it, a California full of Sheep not Shopping Malls!

This is true economic development according to LIFT Economy principles. We see, on a daily basis, that market demand is only increasing for an economy that values the handmade, the land-based, products, especially those that the process of growing/making them produces a regenerative effect on the land we inhabit. We know that demand for these land-connected goods and services can only grow. This is an elegant solution bringing both community-owned and supported infrastructure while expanding revenue opportunities for Northern California’s land-based stewards.

I can’t wait to buy my first CA-grown high-performance base-layer wool top milled in Mendocino, perhaps knit in Oakland by Myrrhia Fine Knitwear on her industrial knitting machine! And my next mattress will undoubtedly be CA-grown wool from Canvas Ranch wool (where I grow my Indigo) felted at the Valley Ford Wool Mill. How will you be a part of this just transition toward regenerative wearables?

Links to more information:

Mendocino Wool Mill Direct Public Offering

What is a DPO?

Conscious Company Interview with Jenny Kassan on DPOs

10 Reasons to do a DPO

5 Reasons Why I Joined LIFT

I’m excited to announce that I have officially joined LIFT Economy! LIFT is an impact consulting firm that is helping to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

So why did I make this decision? Here are five reasons I am joining the LIFT team:

1. LIFT's Mission / Vision

LIFT’s broader mission is “to create, model and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life--one that meets the needs for all people everywhere while enhancing and regenerating the ecosystems that surround us and within which we abide.”

This larger mission is incredibly inspiring and aligned with my intention to benefit all life. However, what differentiated LIFT from other companies with an inspiring mission/vision is how LIFT plans to bring about the change they wish to see in the world. For example, LIFT has a timeline with several specific “Phases of Development” to help guide their operations. For example:

  • LIFT 1.0 (2010 - now):  Help existing high-impact businesses grow and scale to become models of impact for other organizations.

  • LIFT 1.5 (2014 - now): Focus on impact investors and connecting social enterprises to growth capital.

  • LIFT 2.0 (next one to five years): Create an “impact accelerator” and incubate 6-10 regionally replicable, next economy organizations.

  • LIFT 2.5 (next five to twenty-five years): Self-funded Incubator. Create a self renewing revolving loan fund for capitalization.

  • LIFT 3.0 (next fifteen to thirty years): Emphasis on transactions between regional social enterprises. Broker relationships to stimulate a robust, replicable regional economy.  Local stock exchange could be feature. Work on replicating in other regions.

2. Community / Accountability

Being a solo practitioner had a lot of freedom and autonomy. It also had a lot of downsides. For example, I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of, ask for a second opinion, or hold me accountable to achieving my goals. It was difficult to develop expertise outside of my core service offerings. I found that networking at events was less effective (as opposed to having several teammates present).

I realized that I needed partners to help increase our collective social and environmental impact.  LIFT provides me with a group of friends who are like minded, mission-aligned, and want to change the world through business. In addition, we hold each other accountable for moving our respective projects forward. This is an invaluable benefit of being part of a larger team.

3. Permaculture Influence

All three existing LIFT partners--Kevin, Shawn, and Erin--have a deep understanding of permaculture. For those of you who don’t know, permaculture is a framework for using locally available resources, observation, prototyping, and adaptation to help natural systems thrive in a particular location.

While permaculture has traditionally been applied to gardens or farms, LIFT’s partners have used the principles behind permaculture to help entrepreneurs design their businesses for the “Next Economy.” For example, here is a subjective set of criteria that LIFT uses to find examples of Next Economy enterprises:

  1. Need-oriented - goods/services that meet human needs first (i.e., food and shelter before jewelry and entertainment)

  2. Accessible  - affordable, or available to as many as possible

  3. Transparent - clear about supply chain, practices, finances, benefits, cost (e.g., true cost accounting)

  4. Equitable/democratic culture/workplace - could be coops; employees involved in some practice of self-determination

  5. Surplus reinvestment - profits are shared or redistributed

  6. Support of local alternative economy ecosystem (local supply chain)

  7. Zero waste

  8. Ecosystem integration  - whole systems thinking (e.g., stormwater investment, habitat for birds, etc.)

  9. Whole system finances (how they bank, where they received growth capital if any, do they support alternative currencies)

  10. Living wage, Culture (balance, benefits)

  11. Open Source / Growth by Replication

  12. Education embedded into product service  - put yourself out of business

These Next Economy criteria are incredibly fascinating. Kevin even teaches permaculture on an ongoing basis. I am excited to take his class in 2016.

4. Self-Managing, Teal Organization

My decision to close down my independent consulting practice did not come easily. I had planned on being a solo consultant for the rest of my life. As I mentioned earlier, there were so many benefits to being on my own: complete freedom of the types of projects I chose, no accountability to a boss, no communication requirements with a team, and the ability to play any role in the company (e.g., marketer, decision-maker, networker, project implementer, etc.).

However, what if you could have all the benefits of being solo--speed, freedom, variety--but also have the collaboration, shared accountability, and collective potential of a team in one organizational structure?

That’s what I found in the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux. Laloux describes how a radical shift in organizational consciousness is currently changing the way that businesses operate.

For instance, Laloux describes how some organizations have started to operate effectively, even at a large scale, with a system based on peer relationships (rather than top-down hierarchies). These companies set up structures and practices in which people have high autonomy in their domain, and are accountable for coordinating with others. Power and control are deeply embedded throughout the organizations, no longer tied to the specific positions of a few top leaders.

The LIFT partnership is designed to allow each partner to pursue any opportunity they see fit (as long as it aligns with the larger LIFT mission and vision). This meant that my fears about losing my independence and autonomy were not applicable within LIFTs flexible mode of operating. Joining LIFT had allowed me to retain my freedom while enhancing the value I could provide to clients.

5. A+ Players I Can Trust

Steve Jobs famously said that you should only work with “A players,” (or people that are better than you in some important way). I would refine Jobs’s aphorism to say that you should only work with A players you can trust. This is why I feel comfortable with my decision. All of the LIFT partners are deeply trustworthy high-performers that bring an incredible amount of knowledge, skills, and experiences to the table.

For example, Kevin started and helped grow several technology companies, raised millions in venture capital, and currently teaches permaculture. Shawn studied nuclear physics, ran a worker-owned cooperative for 13 years, and has a deep understanding of documenting systems and processes to help organizations scale. Erin worked for years as a coordinator for Daily Acts, regularly speaks at conferences, and worked with the Fibershed Project as a contributing author for an economic feasibility study for implementing a bioregional-scale regenerative textile mill in California.

Conclusion

In sum, I’m extremely excited to have joined the LIFT team. If you would like to learn more about our work, please email me at ryan@lifteconomy.com or visit www.lifteconomy.com. You can also click here to sign up for our monthly newsletter and get a free copy of LIFT’s 60 Point Business Design Checklist.

 

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