White People: Let's Talk About White Supremacy

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By Ryan Honeyman, Partner at LIFT Economy

** A quick disclaimer before you read this article. Let me be clear that I do not know the right answers to any of this. There are anti-racist activists in the trenches, much more qualified than I am, that you should listen to first. These individuals are the ones who are constantly risking their lives and reputations to fight white supremacy. I am new to this space and do not have a track record of actually doing anything. Sure, I've read some books and am collaborating with people of color, but I haven't helped organize marches, organize sit-ins in the halls of Congress, or stood on the front lines and faced the threat of actual police violence.

** Debby Irving, a white anti-racist with much more credibility than I have, said: "My waking-up process has been largely due to the fact that for 400 years people of color have risked lives, jobs, and reputations in an effort to convey the experience of racism." I agree completely. So, this is my way of saying to readers to not trust anything I say until my actions reflect my words. I've got more work to do than writing a blog post saying "look at me! I'm awake now." **

One question has consumed me recently: “what is the role of a white person in conversations about racial justice (especially a white, cisgender, heterosexual, non-disabled, upper middle class male who is a U.S. citizen)?”

I used to think that the appropriate role for a white male of my status and privilege was to stay out of conversations about race. I believed that the best thing I could do was to keep my mouth shut and make space for others.

However, after learning from anti-racist leaders like Dr. Tiffany Jana, Debby Irving, Robin DiAngelo, Chris Crass, Ijeoma Oluo, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Nwamaka Agbo, and more, I have realized that white people staying out of conversations about race is not the right answer. It should not be the burden of people of color to educate white people about systemic racism, equity, privilege, and structural oppression.

So, my fellow white people, let’s talk about white supremacy--a system that we (i.e., the people reading this article) did not invent, but that we inherited and continue to benefit from, regardless of whether we believe we are “good,” or “definitely not racist,” or “don’t see skin color,” or “marched in the sixties.”

You may be thinking “Ok, I’m fine talking about diversity and inclusion. But ‘white supremacy’? That seems unnecessarily provocative and offensive.” If you are thinking this, I completely understand. I would have thought the exact same thing a few years ago. Let me explain.

As a white person (or for any person, for that matter), the term white supremacy is often jarring and cringe-worthy. It can conjure up images of neo-Nazis and Klu Klux Klan members marching down the street with torches—leading to feelings such as shame, defensiveness, or anger.

However, I am not proposing we discuss the bigotry of individuals who identify as white supremacists. I want to discuss the system or organizing principle of white supremacy in which white domination of society is seen as the natural order of things.

For white people like me, it is important to discuss this system because it goes largely unnoticed and operates by default in the background of our daily lives.

“Umm,” you may be wondering, “how is this possibly related to me? I don’t see the connection.” It is related because many of the structural systems that we participate in, such as the economy at large, are based upon—and tightly intertwined with—the legacy of white supremacy.

I use the term white supremacy specifically because there is a lot of confusion around the term racism. White supremacy makes it clear as to who runs the system, who controls the system, who it benefits, and who it exploits.
— Sharon Martinas, Anti-Racist Activist

How White Supremacy is Intertwined with Our Economy

Consider the GI Bill.

The GI Bill was enacted after World War II to provide support for returning veterans. Many white people I know love the GI Bill. Both my grandfather on my mom’s side and my grandfather on my dad’s side directly benefited from the free college and low-interest home loans provided to veterans.

In fact, the benefits were so helpful that the GI Bill almost single-handedly moved both sides of my family from lower middle class to upper middle class economic status in one generation.

What about returning African-American veterans? Did they benefit as well?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the GI Bill’s benefits were not realized across racial lines. Only a very small percentage of returning African-American GIs were able to take advantage of the free education or housing benefits due to systematic discrimination.

There were not enough historically black colleges to educate all of the returning veterans, and many other colleges were only willing to accept a small, token amount of African-American applicants.

In addition, redlining was a formal, legal, and intentionally designed system that was written into the GI Bill to block subsidized home loans to African-Americans and other marginalized groups.

My family accumulated generational wealth that we still benefit from today. Does my family have a certain level of socio-economic status because we “worked harder” than other families? Nope. I can point directly to the racist policies and practices that forever altered my family’s path and continues to provide a level of comfort, status, and privilege that my family enjoys.

See African Americans and the GI Bill and Slavery And American Capitalism for just a few examples of how white supremacy continues to affect our everyday lives.

The Unspoken Values and Norms of White Supremacy

White supremacy implies a number of unspoken norms. It describes the social order in which one kind of person is superior: a white, Anglo, cisgender, christian, heterosexual, wealth-oriented, non-disabled, male.

People who do not fit neatly into each of these categories and want access to power and privilege are often forced to Anglicize their names, hide their sexuality, play up their wealth, act “male,” and hide their religion.

The culture of white supremacy also elevates a certain attitude and approach to life.

Many of the values I learned and internalized growing up as a young white male included things like, “Work hard. Keep your nose to the grindstone. Be productive. If you see a problem, fix it. You can do anything you want if you just try hard enough. Everyone gets a fair shot. You are responsible for your own success in life. Suck it up and don’t complain. Always be polite. Avoid conflict. Don’t rock the boat. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”

For years I assumed that the values imparted to me by my family were somehow unique to us. It shocked me to realize that these messages are part of a cultural lineage and belief system that is handed down by white families to their children over many generations.

These internalized values play out in subtle and pernicious ways. For example, if a white child sees a poor black child at school, they might think, “well, maybe their family just needs to work harder,” or “we should help those poor people who obviously haven’t figured it out and need the assistance of people like me.”

Based on the narrative that everyone gets a fair chance and working hard is the answer, the white child may assume the black child’s family is solely responsible for the circumstances in which they find themselves.

In addition, white children are taught to avoid conflict. “I’m confused why this black child is poor,” the white child might think, “but I’m not going to ask about it. It seems like a sensitive topic. It must just be the way things are.”

Nothing in the previous example was consciously or purposefully racist on the part of the white child. If anything, the white child thought they could be helpful. The cause of the damaging conclusions is the unexamined belief system—the default order of things—that has been passed down to white people and perpetuates institutional bias.

What Can We (White People) Do About It?

I have learned that when white people (like me) first get interested in racial justice, we tend to want to “do” something about it immediately. We want to create a toolkit, or a 5 step action plan, or conduct an 80/20 analysis to determine critical next steps.

Anti-racist activists have told me to be wary of these impulses, because “being productive” and trying to “solve” white supremacy is part of the problem itself. When we seek to solve problems quickly, we tend to skip over the pain, shame, and guilt we feel, and unintentionally recreate the old patterns of dominance and oppression we are trying to dismantle.

I can only speak about what has been helpful for me in my own process. Taking these with a large grain of salt, here are six things you can “do” to take the next step:

1. Learn, Learn, Learn.

Here are several resources that were shared with me, and that I have found to be particularly helpful in my thinking about white supremacy:

Events:

Articles:

Books:

Next Economy Now Podcasts:

2. Educate Other White People About White Supremacy.

Anti-racist educators have helped me understand that most white people have no idea that there is a system of white supremacy that is distinct from the KKK or Nazis. This is very problematic. It means that we think it only applies to “those bad people” and not us.

For example, as a straight white male, it is the privilege of people like me to NOT think about white supremacy. We can mostly ignore it, or expect people of color (or other historically marginalized groups) to figure things out for themselves, or indefinitely kick the conversation down the road without any apparent negative repercussions.

It should not be the burden of people of color, women, or other marginalized groups to educate folks with privilege about institutional racism, institutional sexism, and other forms of systemic bias.

"I believe that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color. I define a white progressive as any white person who thinks he or she is not racist, or is less racist, or in the ‘choir,’ or already ‘gets it.’

“White progressives can be the most difficult for people of color because, to the degree that we think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived. None of our energy will go into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives: engaging in ongoing self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building, and actual anti-racist practice.

“White progressives do indeed uphold and perpetrate racism, but our defensiveness and certitude make it virtually impossible to explain to us how we do so.”

― Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

3. Stay Engaged--Even if it is Super Uncomfortable.

One reason privileged people like me avoid this topic is that many of us feel like we don’t know where to start—even if we are interested in addressing systemic bias.

Another reason is that conversations about the abuses caused by white people often bring up feelings of shame, guilt, hopelessness, anger, and sadness.

I have taken solace in the advice I have received from racial justice educators and social justice activists over the last few years. Their comments have generally followed along the lines of:

  • “Yes, you are a privileged white male. However, you did not invent racism, sexism, and other forms institutional oppression. You inherited them.”

  • “It is ok to feel awkward and uncomfortable when talking about white supremacy. Try to stay engaged. If you choose to walk away from an uncomfortable conversation, you are exercising your privilege, because people of color, women, and others cannot walk away from their identity.”

  • “Do not doubt that you will make mistakes and feel embarrassed. Perfection is not the goal. Stay engaged long enough to give yourself a chance to recover from your mistakes, make a breakthrough in understanding, and strengthen your ability to have difficult conversations.”

4. Stop Siloing The Conversation.

There is no such thing as a conversation about business and/or the economy and a separate conversation about race, privilege, and white supremacy. I have learned that they are the same conversation. Siloing white supremacy into something separate is one of the main barriers we face to creating a more equitable society.

5. Seek to Dismantle White Supremacy Instead of “Helping Others.”

Until recently, I had always believed that the answer to many social and environmental problems was to “help” historically marginalized groups bring themselves up to par with white communities. I had never considered that challenging and unraveling the norms, assumptions, and culture of white supremacy itself could be part of the solution. Reframing this problem is difficult and uncomfortable because it shifts the focus to me--where it belongs.

6. Seek to Understand Your Own White Fragility.

Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragilitysays that the most common response to giving feedback to a white person about race is outrage, such as “how dare you suggest that I could have said or done something racist!” DiAngelo says that outrage is often followed by righteous indignation about the manner in which the feedback was given.

From her experience facilitating hundreds of trainings on this topic, she has found that there is apparently an unspoken set of rules for how to give white people feedback on racism, which she calls “The Rules of Engagement.” She has found that the only way to give feedback correctly is not to give it at all. Thus, the first rule is cardinal:

  • Do not give me feedback on my racism under any circumstances. If you break the cardinal rule:

  • Proper tone is crucial – feedback must be given calmly. If there is any emotion in the feedback, the feedback is invalid and does not have to be considered.

  • There must be trust between us. You must trust that I am in no way racist before you can give me feedback on my racism.

  • Our relationship must be issue-free – If there are issues between us, you cannot give me feedback on racism.

  • Feedback must be given immediately, otherwise it will be discounted because it was not given sooner.

  • You must give feedback privately, regardless of whether the incident occurred in front of other people. To give feedback in front of anyone else—even those involved in the situation—is to commit a serious social transgression. The feedback is thus invalid.

  • You must be as indirect as possible. To be direct is to be insensitive and will invalidate the feedback and require repair.

  • As a white person I must feel completely safe during any discussion of race. Giving me any feedback on my racism will cause me to feel unsafe, so you will need to rebuild my trust by never giving me feedback again. Point of clarification: when I say “safe” what I really mean is “comfortable.”

  • Giving me feedback on my racial privilege invalidates the form of oppression that I experience (i.e. classism, sexism, heterosexism). We will then need to focus on how you oppressed me.

  • You must focus on my intentions, which cancel out the impact of my behavior.

  • To suggest my behavior had a racist impact is to have misunderstood me. You will need to allow me to explain until you can acknowledge that it was your misunderstanding.

DiAngelo notes that each of these rules are rooted in white fragility.

In sum, anti-racist leaders have helped me understand why it is critical for me and my fellow whites to more explicitly name white supremacy and examine its negative effects. I am beginning to learn that only by naming it, disrupting it, and dismantling it can we successfully create a world that works for the benefit of all life.

If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend checking out the Dismantling White Supremacy Unconference on June 14–15 in Oakland, California. You can also sign up for the LIFT Economy newsletter to get tips, advice, and free resources about building the Next Economy.

Join the Regenerative Movement at ReGen18. Don’t miss out!

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When: May 1-4, 2018

Where: Impact Hub San FranciscoTickets:

*Get 30% off Through Our LIFT Economy discount*

We are only days away from the launch of ReGen18! You won’t want to miss this opportunity.  Join us May 1-4 in the heart of the Mission District at Impact Hub San Francisco. We will be gathering with thought leaders and world-changers in philanthropy, business, and citizen activism working to foster the emergence of a regenerative society and thriving planet. Let’s work together to positively transform our organizations, our communities, and our world.

 

ReGen18 will explore regenerative solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges and ways we can work together to accelerate the change we need at the speed of the problems we now face. Come be a part of this important community gathering as we collaborate, share ideas, and deepen our knowledge all for the purpose of fostering a regenerative economy and society.

 

ReGen18 is a multi-venue event including a gala opening with the celebrated Kronos Quartet and a closing ceremony that flows into the exuberant neighborhood celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Don’t miss out on this unique, groundbreaking event.

 

Countdown to REGEN18! [May 1-4]

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Long Story Short:

Where: Impact Hub SF

When: May 1-4, 2018

We're excited to support the #regenerative conference. Use Code R30_LiftEconomy to save
30% off already discounted tickets when you buy yours for #ReGen18. Early bird discounts
expire 4/20/2018.  

Move beyond sustainability to regenerative solutions for people and planet. Join us!
>> regenecon.net.


Short Story Long:

There is a growing awareness and understanding that younger people are about to inherit a
world that is full of risk and danger and damage. #ReGen18 invites anyone who is working to
rebuild and regenerate that world for their generation and the generations yet to come, or who
want to join the growing movement dedicated to making that happen.  Working together we can solve interrelated challenges in order to create systemic change.

Themes:

  • Regenerative Urbanism- using living systems as a model to inspire ‘net positive’ levels of urban development
  • Networks of Networks - creating community wealth in a neighborhood, a city, and beyond
  • Food Agriculture & Soil - regenerative farming can increase living soil, family health, and reverse climate change.
  •  Innovative Finance - establish new ways to collaborate with investors to create more sustainable solutions together
  • and more!

#ReGen18 will bring together people who are passionate about creating positive environmental
impact with people who are passionate about creating positive social change.  Join us. May 1-4, 2018 in the heart of the Mission in San Francisco @ImpactHubSF for #ReGen18, an event
designed to help build a #regenerative system that works for all the people and the planet >> regenecon.net.

Use Code R30_LiftEconomy to save 30% off already discounted tickets when you buy yours for #ReGen18. Early bird discounts expire 4/20/2018.  

Check out the REGEN18 Blog to learn more!:

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CULTURE, SOCIETY AND NEXT ECONOMY – A LIFT Economy Manifesto

WHOLE | RESILIENT | LOCAL

The Next Economy is not some great green vision set out in the future, with flying buses and food delivered by hologram; the Next Economy is now. It is made of whole systems designers building companies to enhance all life. It is an increasing number of individuals and organizations focused on providing the key necessities for simple comfortable human lives and making these standard for everyone. The goal of these individuals may vary, but across the board they are in service to life, life enhancing, and their inspiration comes from clean food and water, fresh air, vibrant community and culture, and meaningful, challenging work. These companies are living their vision now, and running their companies according to these principles, analyzing the life cycle of each decision and its impact for generations, creating a lifestyle that is rewarding and inspiring on a daily basis.

They practice democracy daily at work, not just once a year. They balance their work lives with serious play, self-expression and service. Their culture is of equal importance to their financial health. They invest in their local economy and communities first. They are innovators and delight in new systems – open source, permaculture, and cradle-to-cradle-that stack functions and produce multiple yields. There is no lack of opportunity for improvement so let’s all join in and get to work making our solutions available to everyone!

Human enterprises will be designed in service to all human needs while benefiting the earth and all life. The goal of doing business in the next economy is to be of service to life while doing what you love – finding “work” so full of joy and purpose you cannot really call it work.


Growing the Next Economy are new organizations that operate with a distinctive ‘DNA’ from that of the current economy and for that DNA to propagate seems to imply a transformation of the DNA of human culture and human settlement.  These are big concepts and ideas and this article attempts to provide some additional context and some examples that point towards the vision of both a transformed economy and, in concert, a transformed human culture.

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The current economy (oversimplifying the many aspects of the global economy and painting it with broad strokes based on the self-evident effects of climate change, economic collapse, species extinction, gross social inequities and environmental degradation) seems to have something of the following as its underlying DNA (these all seem to be tightly correlated):

  • Creation of money as interest bearing debt
  • Scarcity – the sense that there is ‘not enough’
  • Growth as a requirement to pay back the interest in money loaned into creation
  • Growth as the measurement of success (GDP)
  • Exploitation of people and planet (resources) – i.e., the externalization of costs
  • Planned obsolescence
  • Ownership sought after and used to concentrate earnings – e.g., intellectual property
  • Economies of scale or the primacy of big – e.g., global brands, multinational corporations
  • Business culture that focuses on and glorifies maximization of returns/earnings

The next economy can be envisioned as a network of locally self-reliant, resilient, regional economies where the organizations, to the extent needed, that comprise these regional economies express the following principles, from their design/incpetion, as their core DNA:

  • Need-oriented – i.e., goods/services that meet human needs first (i.e., food and shelter before jewelry and entertainment)
  • Accessible – i.e., affordable, or available to as many as possible
  • Transparent – i.e., clear about supply chain, practices, finances, benefits, cost (e.g., true cost accounting)
  • Equitable/democratic ownership e.g.,  could be coops; employees involved in some practice of self-determination
  • Surplus reinvestment –  i.e., profits are shared or redistributed
  • Support of local alternative economy ecosystem (local supply chain)
  • Zero waste or net benefit product design, manufacturing
  • Ecosystem integration – i.e., whole systems thinking (e.g., stormwater investment, habitat for owls, etc.)
  • Whole system finances – i.e., supportive of polyculture of regional currency and emergent currency models, direct public offerings, crowdfunding, living returns, revolving lending, peer-to-peer financing, gift economy, barter, etc.
  • Living wage care of people
  • Open source –  i.e., “Growth by Replication” rather than “Growth by Accretion”
  • Education embedded into product service – i.e., promote ‘producer culture’ rather than enforce dependent ‘consumer culture’

The current global economy seems to result in or arise in a particular societal and cultural condition with significant consequences on the human settlement and the patterns of ways in which humans meet their needs for food, water, shelter, space, health, education, transportation, media/entertainment – essentially everything; roughly characterized as follows:

  • Dependent isolated consumerism – e.g., each person must have their own car, the nuclear family, social isolation and alienation
  • Lack of trust, anonymity,
  • Create waste
  • Utilize money/currency as substitute for community, connection, gift or trade
  • Quest for personal security through wealth and resource accumulation

The next economy seems to require significant transformations in culture in order to support the emergence of the organizations with the distinct DNA from the current systems; roughly characterized as follows:

  • Interdependent, self-reliant producer culture
  • Voluntary simplicity
  • Balancing personal preferences/interests with prioritizing collective well being
  • Trust, sharing (space, resources, gifts, etc.
  • Quest for personal security through community and status of being a valued contributor

This article acknowledges that there may be deep psychological, even identity-level, mythological, conditions that enable current economic and cultural circumstance and does not ignore the importance (primacy?) of these aspects of human consciousness in the emergent transformation to the next economy.  We posit that there might be a dynamic interplay between economy, culture, and social/individual psychological condition and that the achievable transformation of culture and economy today might help inform and inspire the transformation, over time, of human consciousness.

For many, concepts of ‘culture’ and ‘economy,’ might seem vague and esoteric and it might be that these notions are best communicated by stories, images and then supported with living examples of pieces of such narrative visions.   Here are some examples of stories that have repeating themes of inspired visions of the next economy (each story might have pieces that are objectionable or distracting narratives, but we have found them most helpful in conceiving the cultural context for the emergence of the next economy) and corresponding culture and some examples of what exists today and what could be:

Next Economy Narratives:

Closer and more immediate than science fiction and narrative, are actual examples of elements or pieces (some more whole/complete/comprehensive than others) of cultural and economic transformation existent today:

While these attempts and endeavors exist today, with few exceptions i. ii., most have not been conceived to model a pattern that could be replicated and adapted to urban, sub urban, and rural human settlements and be integrated into a full economic transformation to the next economy.  This intersection appears to be the current edge of innovation where new organization forms and structures are emerging in concert with new cultural norms in mutually supportive ecosystem (organizations enabling culture change and culture change enabling the new DNA of next economy organizations).  We look forward to seeing the innovative interdependent forms of organizations that create permanently affordable, limited equity ownership (or in trust) co-housing agrihoods with decentralized manufacturing and easy assets sharing and cooperative, preventative health care through decentralize clinics and decentralized, cooperative education and cooperative renewable energy microgrids, and more.  Let’s do this!

LIFT Economy is "Best for the World" in 2017

LIFT Economy was recently recognized for creating extraordinary positive impact as a business based on an independent, comprehensive assessment administered by the nonprofit B Lab. Honorees are featured on B the Change, the digital Medium publication produced by B Lab, at http://www.bthechange.com.

LIFT Economy was honored on three separate lists: the 2017 Best for the World Overall list, the 2017 Best for Workers list, and 2017 Best for the Long Term list. 

The Best for the World Overall list is the most prestigious. This means that LIFT Economy scored in the top 10 percent of more than 2,100 Certified B Corporations across all categories on the B Impact Assessment.

The B Impact Assessment measures a company's positive impact on its workers, community, customers and the environment. To certify as B Corporations, companies like LIFT Economy must complete the full assessment and have their answers verified by B Lab.

The full B Impact Assessment evaluates a company’s environmental performance, employee relationships, diversity, involvement in the local community, the impact a company’s product or service has on those it serves, and more. 

The 176 Best for the World Overall honoree companies come from 75 different industries and 25 countries. Additional 2017 Best for the World Overall honorees include: Patagonia, Beneficial State Bank, Cooperative Home Care Associates, and Dr. Bronner’s.

“Companies like LIFT Economy exemplify what it means for a business to be a good citizen,” says Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab. “We’re proud to recognize their achievement. Best for the World is the only list of businesses making the greatest positive impact that uses comprehensive, comparable, third-party-validated data about a company’s social and environmental performance.”    

A total of 846 Certified B Corporations were named 2017 Best for the World Honorees, including: Seventh Generation, National Co+op Grocers, and Business Development Bank of Canada. Forty-eight countries are represented, including Afghanistan, Kenya, Nicaragua and Turkey. The selection criteria for Best for the World honorees are available at http://bit.ly/29ZYRSp.

Today there are more than 2,100 Certified B Corporations across more than 130 industries and 50 countries, unified by one common goal: to redefine success in business. Any company can measure and manage social and environmental performance at http://bimpactassessment.net.

New Secrets of #BCorp Consulting (Live + Self-Study) Courses Announced

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

Over the past two years, Ryan Honeyman (Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook) and Matt Mayer (Sustainability Consultant at Conscious Brands) have taught a series of courses for folks interested in becoming B Corp consultants. The goal of these courses is to provide a succinct, step-by-step overview of the tools, resources, and best practices we have learned about B Corp consulting. 

We are excited to announce our new live course for January/February 2017 and an ongoing self-study course available now.

Invest Now: <24 Hours to Support the #BCorp Force for Good Fund

Hi Everyone-

It's your last chance to invest--the Force for Good Accelerator / Fund closes in less than 24 hours (Monday, November 7 at 8pm Pacific / 11pm Eastern).

We have currently raised ~$370k from 90+ investors. Wow!! We have been incredibly inspired by the outpouring of support we have received from all of you.


Invest Now: Help Us Get to $400k!

Will you invest now to help us get to $400k? This will allow us to do four investments in amazing women and people of color owned, climate-change solving, "Best for the World" B Corps.

Please help us grow this exciting, inspiring, and desperately needed sector of the economy. Visit our WeFunder page to invest and/or learn more.


Huffington Post + Force for Good Fund

Shamini Dhana, CEO and Founder of Dhana, wrote an amazing article about the Force for Good Fund in the Huffington Post.

Will you help promote this to your social media channels? Here's an example tweet you could use:

  • Invest in women via the #BCorp Force for Good Fund. #crowdfunding campain ends today! http://buff.ly/2fEQuTh #impinv #socent #BCorps

Thank you for all of your support!

Ryan & the LIFT Economy team

Invest in #BCorps Now: Only 48 Hours Left to Double Your Impact

LIFT Economy recently launched the Force for Good Accelerator / Fund.

For those of you who don't know, this will be the first crowdfunded accelerator for women- and people of color-owned, climate change solving, "Best for the World" B Corps (e.g., those B Corps that score in the top 10% worldwide).

Here are 5 exciting updates from the last week:

1. ~$145k Raised in Total. We have raised $145k in one month (and $40k just this last week). That is a phenomenal result. Help us keep the momentum going!

2. The #BCorp Champions Retreat is this Week. The theme of this year’s retreat is “Towards an Inclusive Economy.” Are you interested in helping build a more inclusive economy? Consider investing in this fund :)

3. Only $37k in Matching Funds Left. If you (or someone you know) was on the fence about investing, now is the time! Only $37k of our original $100k in matching funds are available before they expire this Friday, October 21. Invest now to get the double the impact.

4. Andrea Walker is Our 50th Investor. If you don’t know Andrea Walker from Beneficial State Bank, you are missing out. She is an amazing leader in the B Corp movement (Indeed, the banner image on our WeFunder page is the back of her head). Thanks to Andrea for being lucky number 50!

5. $65k Raised for the Loan Loss Reserve. Thanks to Kat Taylor (Beneficial State Bank), Amy Levine (Cabot Creamery), Michael Pirron (Impact Makers), and John Replogle (Seventh Generation), we have raised $65k for our loan loss reserve. This money will be used to backstop any losses to investors if our fund does not do as well as anticipated. We hope to eventually have ~$250k in loan loss reserve for a $1M fund.

Will you share the Force for Good Fund via social media and with your friends and colleagues? Here are two sample tweets you could use:

  • Check out the Force for Good Fund, the first accelerator for #BCorp: wefunder.com/forceforgood #socent #impinv #crowdfunding
  • Want to invest in #BCorps? Check out the Force for Good Accelerator / Fund: wefunder.com/forceforgood #socent #impinv #crowdfunding #BCorp

Thank you for your help. Check out wefunder.com/forceforgood to learn more about our project. Please reach out to ryan@lifteconomy.com with any questions or comments.

Force for Good: $100k Raised + $100k in Matching Funds

The Force for Good Accelerator / Fund reached two exciting milestones last week:

  • $100k+ Successfully Raised: We raised over $100k (currently $109,611 raised from 41 investors) less than three weeks into our campaign, and

  • $100k in Matching Funds: Merlin Clarke (CEO of Dogeared) committed an additional $25k on top of the existing $25k commitment from Derek Hydon (MaCher) and $50k commitment from Kat Taylor (Beneficial State Bank).

This means that anyone that invests in the Force for Good Accelerator / Fund between now and Friday, October 21 will be matched 2:1.

Will you share this opportunity via social media and with your friends and colleagues? Here are two sample tweets you could use:

  • Check out the Force for Good Fund, the first accelerator for #BCorp: wefunder.com/forceforgood #socent #impinv #crowdfunding

  • Want to invest in #BCorps? Check out the "Force for Good Accelerator / Fund": wefunder.com/forceforgood #socent #impinv #crowdfunding #BCorp

Thank you for your help! Please reach out to ryan@lifteconomy.com with any questions or comments.

Small Investors Wanted: Help Crowdfund the First Accelerator for “Best for the World” B Corps

Have you ever wanted to be an investor? We just launched the Force for Good Accelerator / Fund, and we would love your help.

The Force for Good Accelerator / Fund is specifically designed to nurture, grow, and launch women- and people of color-owned, climate change solving, “Best for the World” B Corporations (i.e., companies that score in the top 10% of B Corps worldwide).

100/$1000 by the B Corp Champions Retreat

We are launching a campaign to get 100 B Corp supporters and stakeholders (e.g., customers, workers, suppliers, community members, executives, and others) to invest $1k each before the B Corp Champions Retreat in Philadelphia on October 17, 2016.

Will you join us by investing as little as $1k? We’ve already got our first investors, like Kat Taylor from Beneficial State Bank, Zach Berke from Exygy, and Stu Landesberg from Grove Collaborative.

To learn more about the goals/objectives, the terms of the investment, the expected ROI, and answers to frequently asked questions, please click here. You can also reach out to me directly at ryan@lifteconomy.com.

New Secrets of B Corp Consulting (Live + Self-Study) Courses Announced

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

Over the past 18 months, Ryan Honeyman (Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook) and Matt Mayer (Sustainability Consultant at Conscious Brands) have taught a series of courses for folks interested in becoming B Corp consultants. The goal of these courses is to provide a succinct, step-by-step overview of the tools, resources, and best practices we have learned about B Corp consulting. 

We are excited to announce that there are now two course options: a pre-recorded, self-study course, and an ongoing live course. Click here to learn more.

New Dates! Secrets of B Corp Consulting (4 Part Webinar Series)

Overview:

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. Some of the benefits of participating in this series include:

  • World-Class Expertise: Learn from two of the world’s top experts on B Corporations
  • Individual Assistance: In addition to four 90 minute group sessions, each participant will receive a 60 minute coaching call.
  • Exclusivity: A maximum of 8 participants will be allowed to attend this course in order to keep the group small, nimble, and targeted.
  • Shared Accountability: Learn as a cohort, with shared accountability and goals
  • Evergreen Content: Participants will get a recording of all four 90 minute webinars in case you need to miss a session (or want to watch a session again).
  • Ongoing Access: After the course is finished, participants will also have ongoing access to the private discussion forum to ask questions and seek advice

Press:

Interested in reading about our course? Julie Fahnstock, Founder at B Storytelling and graduate of our second cohort, wrote the following articles about her experiences as a participant in The Secrets of B Corp Consulting:

Logistics:

This course consists of four 90 minute webinars plus a private 60 minute coaching call with either Matt or Ryan. The webinars are scheduled for the following dates:

  • Week 1: Tuesday, March 29 from 12pm-1:30pm (Pacific)
  • Week 3: Tuesday, April 5 from 12pm-1:30pm (Pacific)
  • Week 4: Tuesday, April 12 from 12pm-1:30pm (Pacific)
  • Week 5: Tuesday, April 19 from 12pm-1:30pm (Pacific)

Skills You Will Learn:

After the course is over, you will be able to:

  • Inspire prospects by communicating the value of joining a global movement to redefine success in business
  • Confidently respond to both high-level and detailed questions about the B Impact Assessment
  • Pitch, propose, and deliver a B Corp consulting contract worth thousands of dollars
  • Build your thought leadership by publishing and speaking about B Corps
  • Network and engage with the existing B Corp community
  • Use the B Impact Assessment as a lens to identify other client needs (e.g., helping motivate and engage employees, helping clients create their mission, vision, and core values)

Instructors:

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner / Worker Owner at LIFT Economy, 2014 B Corp MVP, and author of "The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good" (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). Ryan’s clients include B Corps like Ben & Jerry’s, King Arthur Flour, Method, Plum Organics, Klean Kanteen, and Nutiva.

Matt Mayer is Sustainability Sherpa at Conscious Brands. Matt is a strong believer that business can be a force for good only if success can be redefined to include measurable returns for all stakeholders, rather than simply enriching shareholders. Matt has helped many prominent B Corps in Canada both achieve certification and strategically use their certification to grow their business while becoming a better company. Matt has spoken on B Corp on many occasions including at conferences, MBA classrooms, facilitating B Corp bootcamps, leading BCorp networking groups and more. Matt has a Masters of Science degree in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability and his Bachelor of Commerce degree in General Management.

Testimonials:

"Ryan has been a valuable and effective consultant for Ben & Jerry's in helping us to benchmark key aspects of our supply chain. Ryan is great to work with; he is personable, professional, and responsive. We look forward to continuing our work with Ryan in the future--not only because he provides value in the space of "measuring what matters," but because Ryan's work supports the growing movement of businesses that are aspiring to be better for the world." - Cheryl Pinto, Ben & Jerry's

"Ryan’s guidance through B Corp certification was incredibly worthwhile and valuable. Going through the B Corp certification process helped us identify gaps in items like our employee handbook, our local community engagement efforts, and how we communicate our environmental programs to our stakeholders. We are now the first B Corp-certified olive oil company in the United States, and the first B Corp-certified wine business in California. I highly recommend using his services." - Samantha Dorsey, McEvoy Ranch

"Conscious Brands assisted with Genuine Health’s B Corp certification, making it a pleasurable and quick process. From their excellent kick-off meeting and planning tools to the weekly check-in calls, Conscious Brands was clear, helpful, supportive and great to work with. Their quick turnaround, willingness to go the extra mile, enthusiasm and expertise was very much appreciated and made the hard work a lot of fun. In fact Conscious Brands was so helpful that Genuine Health was one of the fastest B Corp certifications to date! Thank you Conscious Brands for being truly conscious of what matters most, both in the universe and in business.” - Tara Stubensey, Genuine Health

"In working with Conscious Brands on our B Corp certification we were not only provided with attentive and genuine service, but truly felt as if we had a partner through the entire process. They are outstanding communicators that worked diligently with us to ensure we understood every step of the process. Their energy, organization and sincere commitment to sustainable business practices helped motivate and guide us along as we worked together to achieve our goal. So impressed by that to this day we continue to work together on various initiatives - these guys really are the very best at what they do.” - Shaun Daniels, Nature's Fare Markets

Only a few spots left for this course--sign up today! 

Questions? Email ryan@lifteconomy.com

Women Raising the Right Money from the Right Investors (Ongoing)

Overview:

Women Raising the Right Money from the Right Investors is a 6-month online group program designed to leap frog your capital raising efforts so you can get the resources you need to run and grow your business on your own terms. This is an ongoing program--you can join at any time.

Instructor:

Jenny Kassan, attorney and capital raising coach, has helped her mission-driven clients in diverse industries and geographies to raise several hundred thousand to multiple millions using creative and less well-known tools and strategies that allow them to stay true to their goals and mission. LIFT Economy coaches provide a Get Ready to Raise Kickstart Program.

Testimonials:

“Jenny is deeply knowledgeable about a topic most of us are not! Jenny walks you through the steps necessary for finding investors so that when you approach an investor, you feel that you’re on solid ground.” - Ann Kramer, Good4U, Inc.

“Jenny brings a wealth of experience and a fantastic, healthy perspective to fundraising that turns it from a chore into empowerment!” - Colleen Kavanaugh, Zego Snacks

“Jenny gave me the tools I needed to offer an investment opportunity to supportive investors.  My team and I are well on our way to achieving our goal of raising $500,000.  We’re offering equity but we are not giving up any control.  We’ve had a remarkable response and we couldn’t have done it without Jenny’s teaching and support.” - Kristen Barker, Our Harvest

“Jenny’s program has allowed me to grow personally and to get really clear about what we want to do. I’m much stronger in communicating who we are. That is just as valuable if not more than having the dollars in our bank account.” - Lynn Johnson, Go Girls! Camp

Reinventing Organizations: How to Implement "Teal" Management Practices for Consultants (4 Part Webinar Series)

Overview:

This training is for consultants (either aspiring consultants or those who have an existing practice) who would like to help their clients upgrade their internal management practices to become more “Teal” or “next stage.”

The concept of “going Teal” was popularized by Frederic Laloux in his book Reinventing Organizations. For those unfamiliar, Laloux spent several years researching the structures, practices, processes, and cultures of 12 companies (including Patagonia, Morning Star, Sounds True, Buurtzorg, and Sun Hydraulics) that he identified as operating at the next stage of human consciousness. Each has made three major breakthroughs:

  • Self Management: These companies are like living organisms that operate effectively, even at a large scale, with a system based on peer relationships, without the need for either hierarchy or consensus. For example, Morning Star—a 2,400-person company that produces more than 40 percent of the tomato paste and diced tomatoes consumed in the United States—operates entirely on self-management principles.

  • Wholeness: These organizations invite their employees to bring their whole selves to work every day (instead of a narrow “professional” self). Many Teal organizations, for example, devote regular time to addressing conflicts; avoid the use of job titles and descriptions (to allow the individual to shape their own role); and enumerate core values with explicit behaviors, habits, and norms.

  • Evolutionary Purpose: Teal organizations have their own life and sense of direction. Instead of trying to predict and control the future, they invite members to sense and respond to the shape and larger purpose of the organization. A New Year’s ritual for the company Sounds True includes employees sitting in silence and opening their mind to what the organization wants from them for the coming year. Anyone can share with the group what they have heard.

These interlocking sets of practices, Laloux suggests, constitute an emerging, coherent organizational model—the blueprint of the future of organizations.

 

Benefits:

Some of the benefits of participating in this course include:

  • Proven Expertise: Learn from two experts who have helped implement Teal business practices at a wide variety of organizations. For example, please see Ryan Honeyman’s article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review for more information about the application of Teal ideas to the real world.

  • Individual Assistance: In addition to four 90 minute group sessions, each participant will receive a 60 minute coaching call.

  • Exclusivity: A maximum of 8 participants will be allowed to attend this course in order to keep the group small, nimble, and targeted.

  • Shared Accountability: Learn as a cohort, with shared accountability and goals

  • Evergreen Content: Participants will get a recording of all four 90 minute webinars in case you need to miss a session (or want to watch a session again).

 

Logistics:

This course consists of four 90 minute webinars plus a private 60 minute coaching call with either Shawn or Ryan. The webinars are scheduled for the following dates:

  • Week 1: Tuesday, June 21 from 10am-11:30am (Pacific)

  • Week 2: Tuesday, June 28 from 10am-11:30am (Pacific)

  • Week 3: Tuesday, July 5 from 10am-11:30am (Pacific)

  • Week 4: Tuesday, July 12 from 10am-11:30am (Pacific)

 

Skills You Will Learn:

After the course is over, you will be able to:

  • Use Teal as a lens to identify other client needs (e.g., helping motivate and engage employees, helping clients create their mission, vision, and core values)

  • Inspire prospects by communicating the value of joining a global movement to redefine success in business

  • Increase confidence in responding to both high-level and detailed questions about implementing Teal business practices

  • How to design and propose a Teal consulting contract

  • Build your thought leadership by publishing and speaking about next stage organizations

  • Network and engage with the existing Teal business community

 

Instructors:

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner / Worker Owner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). Ryan helps companies adopt next stage management practices, such as creating self-organizing teams, increasing financial transparency, creating a thriving employee culture, and helping construct a long-term vision tied to specific social and environmental outcomes. Ryan has written articles for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, and Utne Reader. His clients include Ben & Jerry’s, King Arthur Flour, Method, Plum Organics, Klean Kanteen, and Nutiva.

Shawn Berry is an organizational strategist inspired to harness the power of business to create resilient local economies as patterns to be documented, open sourced, scaled globally and adapted regionally. Shawn left an early career path in nuclear physics research to found the Woodshanti Cooperative (1997-2011), a custom cabinet and furniture shop in San Francisco that set the standard for ethical craftsmanship in the green building movement. This hands on experience as an entrepreneur combined with community organizing and systems theory to craft the vision for LIFT Economy to model an economy that works for all life. 


Testimonials:

“LIFT has given us many helpful and objective insights into the intangible aspects of our company that we hold dear—culture, values, people, and transparency. LIFT’s work will help us continue to make Plum a great place to work.” — Neil Grimmer, CEO at Plum Organics

“LIFT has been a tremendous ally in helping us to maximize our future impact. Their thought leadership and guidance has been invaluable.” — Aseem Das, Founder & CEO at World Centric

“At CoLab we believe great results are born from collaborations between value-aligned partners. Our coaching work with LIFT has helped CoLab to both dramatically elevate our bottom line numbers as well as to ignite our passion to serve the world through our technology work. Thank you LIFT!” — Rylan Peery, Co-Founder at CoLab Cooperative

“Hiring LIFT was a fantastic business decision. We have increased our social and environmental performance, identified exciting new projects to pursue, and I have more time to spend with my family.” — Zach Berke, Founder & CEO, Exygy

“Running a small business is hard enough, and for us with our ethics of earth care and people care the bar is even higher. Not sure how we would do it without the trusted, values aligned guidance from LIFT to give us the high level perspective we need to plan for our future growth.” — Erik Ohlsen, Founder & Owner at Permaculture Artisans

 

Questions about the course? Please email ryan@lifteconomy.com.

How to Become a Next Economy Consultant

Have you ever thought about consulting for companies that are mission-driven, socially and environmentally responsible, and working to grow the “Next Economy”? It’s suddenly possible for consultants to make money and a difference--primarily because there is a rapidly expanding movement of companies who are dedicated to using the power of business as a force for good.

In this article, I’ll describe what the “Next Economy” is, why it is important, and how you can get more involved in this global movement.

 

What is the “Next Economy”?

Loosely defined, the Next Economy is a collection of organizations and individuals whose goal is to 1) provide essential goods and services that meet the needs of society and 2) benefit all life.

For example,  here is a subjective set of criteria that we use 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 owls, 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

The good news is that the Next Economy is not future science fiction. We interact with these types of companies on a regular basis. This movement is alive and well and is growing at a rapid pace.

 

What’s the existing / addressable market?

B Corps, Social Enterprises, LOHAS, Non-profits, and also larger traditional companies like Unilever realize there is a better way to do business that creates mutual benefit for all stakeholders. We have found that these companies need the support of vision and values aligned skilled professionals.

Furthermore, as an independent consultant, you can see the patterns of challenge and success across various companies, markets and industries and provide highly valuable insight to empower their growth and development. There is an opportunity now to position yourself as a leader and steward of this movement as we transition from the innovator phase to the early adopter and early majority phases that will be coming soon.

 

Why work as a Next Economy consultant?

This is the future of business. As we mentioned before, there is a wave of dedicated entrepreneurs whose goal is to simultaneously reinvent commerce, provide goods and services, and benefit society and the environment.

These entrepreneurs, while full of passion and urgency, do not often have experience operating or growing a business and often work too many hours, tend to burn out and limit their efficacy through their ignorance of capital, financing, business systems, organizational best practices, self-care practices and effective communication skills.

This is why we need skilled professionals who are proficient in one or more areas of entrepreneurship to help guide the development of these organizations.

 

How does this differ from a “regular economy” consultant? (e.g., McKinsey?)

While Next Economy consultants use some of the basic business skills of more traditional consulting agencies (e.g., strategic planning, budgeting, assigning clear roles & responsibilities, etc.), they do so in a context of alignment with the vision and values of the Next Economy.

These consultants use the tasks of organizing and growing the business to also cultivate individual and collective growth and development. We cultivate wholeness. Our companies love what they do and who they do it with and that creates a virtuous cycle that uplifts everyone in contact.

 

What are the knowledge and skills that a Next Economy consultant should learn?

We have carefully analyzed our experience over the past 5 years (working with 100+ companies in this sector) to find the trends, patterns, and needs of these companies. We have identified four key areas that are most critical to the future growth and development of any organization, regardless of the product, service, industry or market. We call this our business design methodology:

  • Vision: Without a clearly defined and articulated vision, it is very difficult to make sure everyone is working towards the same goal. Having a shared vision (and shared core values) allows decentralized decision making--a critical component of Next Economy organizations.

  • Culture: The culture of the organization is shaped by an accumulated set of beliefs, habits, and behaviors of employees as they work towards the vision. It is the quality of interaction and will make or break the success of the organization. Like the vision, it needs to be clearly articulated and carefully stewarded.

  • Strategy: Once the vision and culture have been determined, it is important to then start iterating on the best strategies to help a company achieve that vision. This area comprises strategic marketing, sales and partnerships. It also includes governance and planning.

  • Operations: It is important to operationalize the strategies defined by the organization so that they can be continually repeated and refined (especially for the organization to be able to scale). The focus in this area is on the structure, rhythms and systems design of the organization. This includes projections, tracking and reporting, and policy and procedures.

 

How do Next Economy consultants make money?

As a consultant your basic business model is charging a fee for services rendered. This will require skill and experience in assessing needs and creating value for your client companies. Also, maybe more importantly, it will require advanced skills in relationship and rapport building, communication and emotional maturity.

In terms of how to bill for your services, we recommend billing according to value created, not hours worked. One unique approach we use at LIFT is inviting our clients to adjust our invoices (down or up) to reflect the value they feel they have received.

This accomplishes several important things. As a consultant committed to growing the Next Economy, it would be antithetical to withdraw resources from values aligned companies without providing commensurate value. This will also prevent you from proposing to work on projects you are not genuinely enthusiastic about. It puts the relationship as the primary objective and makes sales conversations much easier and low-risk (as the risk of providing value is up to the consultant every month). We have billed this way exclusively for the last four years. We have seen that this practice results in long term engagements with high degrees of trust and mutual benefit.

 

What resources are available for this?

We have created a training series for values-aligned consultants (or aspiring consultants) who wish to learn more about Next Economy consulting. See more information on this event page: http://liftimpactconsulting.eventbrite.com

 

 

Carbon Farming For Your Business

Part 1: Carbon Farming Strategies for Mission-Driven Companies: Tuesday, April 12th 12pm-1:30pm (online)

Learn why carbon farming is relevant to your business. You'll learn the carbon cycle, the various kinds of carbon farming & what yields or products can come from carbon farming practices. We'll discuss the potential role for business & enterprise & perhaps most importantly, what is actually happening on the ground today.

With that understanding, you can begin to envision what role your company might play, be it offsetting your emissions by investing in bio-sequestration projects, or re-examining your supply chain and ways you can purchase from climate-friendly producers.

The first 90-minute webinar will feature the following leaders & projects:

  • John Roulac, CEO, Nutiva - Nutiva's Role to Play in The Carbon Farming Solution.

  • Rebecca Burgess, Founder, Fibershed - Inspiring the largest textile company in the world to invest in Carbon Farming practices for Climate-Beneficial goods

  • Kevin Bayuk, Senior Financial Analyst, Project Drawdown - How Carbon Literacy is Transforming Next Economy Companies


Part 2: Creating Your Company's Carbon Farming Strategy: Tuesday, April 26th 12pm-1:30pm (online)

Next, you'll activate your intentions to become more Climate-Beneficial. Learn the difference between a Climate Neutral Certified and Climate-Beneficial Company. Understand the importance of metrics and tracking. Create a plan identifying next steps for your business & carbon farming. Next steps could include partnering with other companies to explore supply chain investments or measuring your baseline emissions. Whatever it may be, you'll walk away with clear next actions towards your contribution to a healthier climate.

  • Nikki Silvestri, CEO of Silvestri Strategies - Caring for land, caring for people through Carbon Farming

  • Gowan Batiste, Sustainability Manager at North Coast Brewing Company - Fueled by Compost: A Vision for a Climate-Beneficial Craft Brewery

  • Ryan Zinn, Organic & Fair Trade Coordinator at Dr. Bronners - Stories from the Field: Carbon Farming & Climate Resilience in one Company's Supply Chain 

  • Erin Axelrod, Partner, LIFT Economy - Creating Your Climate-Beneficial Action Plan


"Fantastic tour of Carbon Farming projects north of San Francisco. Thank you Erin Axelrod for organizing. This is such a powerful solution to reverse climate change and redefine agriculture practices, we are 100% on board to support the development of these efforts going forward. This type of project and the amazing and visionary people behind it give me HOPE. and that's a lot these days.... Onwards and Upwards!"
 - Mathieu Senard, Founder & CEO Alter Eco, attendee at Spring, 2015 Carbon Farming Tour

It's Back: New Dates for "Secrets of #BCorp Consulting" Announced

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

Ryan Honeyman (Author of "The B Corp Handbook") and Matt Mayer (Sustainability Consultant at 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. Some of the benefits of participating in this series include:

  • World-Class Expertise: Learn from two of the world’s top experts on B Corporations
  • Individual Assistance: In addition to four 90 minute group sessions, each participant will receive a 60 minute coaching call. 
  • Exclusivity: A maximum of 8 participants will be allowed to attend this course in order to keep the group small, nimble, and targeted.
  • Shared Accountability: Learn as a cohort, with shared accountability and goals
  • Evergreen Content: Participants will get a recording of all four 90 minute webinars in case you need to miss a session (or want to watch a session again).
  • Ongoing Access: After the course is finished, participants will also have ongoing access to the private discussion forum to ask questions and seek advice.

Click here to learn more and/or register.

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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