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