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Nia Evans & Lucas Turner-Owens: The Boston Ujima Project [Ep. 158]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Nia K. Evans is the Director of the Boston Ujima Project. Her educational background is in the areas of labor relations, education leadership, and policy. Her advocacy includes a focus on eliminating barriers between analysts and people with lived experiences as well as increasing acknowledgement of the value of diverse types of expertise in policy.

She is a co-creator of Frames Debate Project, a multimedia policy debate project that explores the intersection between drug policy, mental health services and incarceration in the state of Massachusetts.

Ms. Evans has a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Master of Arts in Education Leadership, with a course of study in Leadership, Policy, and Politics from Teachers College at Columbia University. She also studied abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where she focused on International Labor Relations.


Lucas Turner-Owens serves as the Fund Manager for the Boston Ujima Project. As the Fund Manager, he is responsible for loan packaging, underwriting, and managing Ujima's portfolio of investments. In addition, Lucas also provides technical Assistance to entrepreneurs, connects them with business support organizations, and gives financial education to Ujima's investor base.

Prior to joining the Project, Lucas worked as an economic policy analyst for Operation HOPE, a nonprofit focused on consumer financial education. In this role, Lucas acted as an advisor to the CEO on government affairs and public policy with a focus on strategies designed to benefit underserved communities. After this time spent working in the economic policy space, Lucas worked as a loan officer for Cooperation DC, providing technical assistance and expansion loans from a network of impact investors to grow social enterprises and worker-owned co-operatives in Washington D.C. Following this Lucas joined Next Street Financial as a senior analyst in their Boston office. In this role, he applied his background in small business development and public policy to support clients making impact investments and strategic growth decisions.

Lucas was a founding member of Youth Against Mass Incarceration and has been active in local grassroots movements in Boston in partnership with groups such as Alternatives for Community and Environment and Reclaim Roxbury. Lucas holds a BA from Wesleyan University.

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Interview Highlights:

  • How Lucas and Nia first got into the type of work they are doing today

  • How the Boston Ujima Project is organizing neighbors, workers, business owners, and investors to create a new community controlled economy in Greater Boston.

  • The importance of centering working-class communities of color in the Boston Ujima Project’s work

  • Why the Ujima Project demonstrates new ways to invest, work, buy, own, and advocate.

  • Advice for other groups looking to start similar ecosystems in their own region

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Aaron Tanaka: Creating a Just, Regenerative, and Democratic Economy [Ep. 150]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Aaron Tanaka is founder and Director of the Boston-based Center for Economic Democracy. Aaron is also a community organizer, grant-maker, impact investor, and a founding organizer of the Boston Ujima Project, which brings together neighbors, workers, business owners and investors to create a new community-controlled regional economy. He is an Echoing Green and BALLE Fellow, and co-chair of the national New Economy Coalition and the Asian American Resource Workshop.

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Some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s Conversation with Aaron Tanaka include:

  • How Aaron got into the work he is doing today

  • Aaron’s thoughts on democratizing capital and the launch of the Boston Ujima Project

  • How social entrepreneurs can get more involved in grassroots activism and movement building

  • The balance between creating examples of Next Economy solutions and organizing for policy change at the government level

  • Aaron’s thoughts on how folks can help create the Next Economy

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Funmilola Fagbamila: Black Lives Matter, White Allyship, & Emotional Intelligence [Ep. 149]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Funmilola Fagbamila is a Nigerian American scholar, activist, playwright and artist. She currently serves as a professor of Pan African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. As a founding member of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Funmilola has been organizing with BLM since its inception in 2013 and currently serves as the Arts and Culture director for the Los Angeles chapter. Her writing, political analyses and social commentary have been featured in publications such as the Guardian, NOW THIS news, and NPR. Funmilola has delivered keynote addresses at colleges and universities across the country. Her public commentary frequently touches on the topics of critical race theory, black complexity, criminal justice, health and wellness, modern pan-africanism, and the Arts.

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Some highlights from Erin Axelrod’s conversation with Funmilola Fagbamila include:

  • Exploring the roots of the Black Lives Matter Movement

  • Discussion of the myth of meritocracy in America

  • Emotional intelligence helps us to hear each other across ideological differences

  • Suggestions for supportive white allyship

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Erin Axelrod is a Partner at LIFT Economy, helping to accelerate the spread of climate-beneficial businesses, specializing in businesses that address critical soil and water regeneration. She is an avid ecologist, grassroots organizer and regularly forages for wild food in her home in rural Sonoma County. You can follow Erin on Twitter @erinaxelrod or email her erin@lifteconomy.com.

Varshini Prakash: Sunrise Movement Sees The Green New Deal on the Horizon [Ep. 148]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Varshini was born and raised outside Boston, MA. She got involved in the climate movement as an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She joined the UMass Fossil Fuel Divestment campaign early in her time at UMass and led the campaign for two years. In Spring 2016, the campaign won after a 2-week long mass escalation in which over 700 students, faculty, and alumni participated. 32 were arrested after peacefully refusing to leave the Whitmore Administration Building until UMass agreed to climate action. For the last three years, she has coordinated fossil fuel divestment campaigns with the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network at a regional and national level. She supported campaigns across the country through training, mentorship, and strategic guidance. Varshini supported the launch of Sunrise, a movement building an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. 

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Some highlights from Erin Axelrod’s conversation with Varshini Prakash include:

  • The Sunrise Movement is mobilizing tens of thousands to stop business as usual with The Green New Deal

  • The Green New Deal aims to address our climate crisis as well as wealth- and racial inequity

  • Today’s youth leadership are particularly positioned to be vanguards for social change

  • Envisioning a world where all of our basic needs as humans are met while providing a benefit to each other and our environment and contrasting this vision with our current world which is more of a lose-lose, zero-sum game.

  • How the Green New Deal harkens back to The New Deal and how the Green New Deal will similarly take many pieces of legislation over a period of decades.

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Erin Axelrod is a Partner at LIFT Economy, helping to accelerate the spread of climate-beneficial businesses, specializing in businesses that address critical soil and water regeneration. She is an avid ecologist, grassroots organizer and regularly forages for wild food in her home in rural Sonoma County. You can follow Erin on Twitter @erinaxelrod or email her erin@lifteconomy.com.

Tur-Ha Ak & Nicole Deane: Safety, Self-Determination, and Equity for the Disenfranchised [Ep. 146]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Tur-Ha Ak is the CEO of Urban Protection Industries, a harm reduction security company. He created the unique "harm reduction security" model to provide security for drug rehabilitation clinics in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco in the 1990s. The harm reduction security model emphasizes maintaining and enforcing boundaries within a specific geographical area, and building and utilizing community relationships to enhance security. Urban Protection continues to use this model today as the primary security for the Laurel Business Improvement District in Oakland. Urban Protection has also provided personal security services for Cheryl Davila of Berkeley City Council, Patrisse Cullors of Black Lives Matter, and Cat Brooks (Oakland Mayoral candidate) in the face of heightened threats from white nationalists. 

Tur-Ha is also the founder of Community Ready Corps (CRC), a Black grassroots organization with a mission to organize and empower the Black community towards safety, self determination and equity. Under Tur-Ha’s leadership, CRC has spearheaded and helped build effective multi-racial coalitions that address the most pressing issues facing the Black community in the Bay Area, including the Anti Police-Terror Project (which created the first replicable model nationally for community rapid response to police violence), the State of Black Oakland (a People’s Assembly), and Oakland Justice Coalition. Recognizing that Black people face a triple threat of state, racist vigilante, and inter-communal violence, Tur-Ha has dedicated his life to creating a culture and climate of safety and protection in Black communities by organizing neighborhood safety teams and rapid response networks, and providing free, regular self defense training for children and adults.

Nicole Deane is an organizer, filmmaker, and co-founder of Community Ready Corps (Allies & Accomplices), a cross-class, intergenerational and multi-tendency organization of white people committed to fighting white supremacy. CRC(A) works to move, teach, and support white people to weaponize white privilege and divest of white power, and to organize in a direct and disciplined relationship with Community Ready Corps.

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Some highlights from Erin Axelrod’s conversation with Tur-Ha Ak & Nicole Deane include:

  • Community Ready Corps was born in the moment when Oscar Grant was murdered

  • The “Next Economy” really begins with deep discussion of the existing predatory economy that’s built off the backs of disenfranchised people before we can formulate just and equitable next steps, such as achieving self determination for all people (which is CRC’s Prime Objective).

  • Defining the terms “persistent reestablishment of white supremacy” and “The 5 Methods of Weaponization and Divestment of White Power & Privilege

  • How the 2018 Black Solidarity Week began with listening sessions for each of the “9 areas of self determination” to determine ways to best support existing community efforts and how the 2019 Black Solidarity Week (Feb 17-23, 2019) attempts to organize and present a Black Solidarity Agenda and Plan of Action

  • The CRC’s Black Solidarity Fund, already having raised ~$25k of it’s $30k 2019 goal, is now giving out Black Solidarity Micro-grants of $500-$1500, to support existing programs from other organizations and to fund CRC’s programs

How Listeners Can Support Black Solidarity Week

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Erin Axelrod is a Partner at LIFT Economy, helping to accelerate the spread of climate-beneficial businesses, specializing in businesses that address critical soil and water regeneration. She is an avid ecologist, grassroots organizer and regularly forages for wild food in her home in rural Sonoma County. You can follow Erin on Twitter @erinaxelrod or email her erin@lifteconomy.com.

Rinku Sen: Racial Justice, Feminism, and Economic Empowerment [Ep. 140]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Rinku Sen is a writer and a political strategist. She is currently Senior Strategist at Race Forward, having formerly served as Executive Director and as Publisher of their award-winning news site Colorlines. She is also a James O. Gibson Innovation Fellow at PolicyLink. Under Sen’s leadership, Race Forward has generated some of the most impactful racial justice successes of recent years, including Drop the I-Word, a campaign for media outlets to stop referring to immigrants as “illegal,” resulting in the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many more outlets changing their practice. Her books Stir it Up and The Accidental American theorize a model of community organizing that integrates a political analysis of race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other systems. She writes and curates the news at rinkusen.com.

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Some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s Conversation with Rinku Sen include:

How Rinku initially got into racial justice organizing at Brown University

  • Rinku’s professional path through Race Forward and the Center for Third World Organizing

  • How she thinks about centering race, without losing sight of other historically marginalized communities

  • How the Restaurant Opportunities Center (which she covered in her second book, The Accidental American) has created a model for successful organizing of low-wage workers that has actually changed the restaurant industry

  • Rinku’s thoughts on identity politics and her new book that is in the works

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Tiffany Jana: Erasing Institutional Bias [Ep. 139]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Dr. Jana is the founder and CEO of TMI Portfolio, a collection of socially responsible and interconnected companies working to advance more culturally inclusive and equitable workforces. An award-winning diversity practitioner and international public speaker, Dr. Jana has been featured in publications including Psychology Today, the Huffington Post, Fast Company, MarketWatch, and Forbes. They were also named an Inc.com Top 100 Leadership Speaker in 2018.

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Some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s Conversation with Tiffany Jana include:

  • How Dr. Jana got into the work she is doing today

  • Why the first step to erasing institutional bias is understanding the problem

  • The different types of biases Dr. Jana explains in her book, including occupational, racial, gender, hiring, customer, and retribution bias

  • Dr. Jana’s new tech product, Loom, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help companies identify and address bias in their workplaces

  • Whether Dr. Jana is optimistic or pessimistic about racial justice in a time of Trump

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Esteban Kelly: Transformative Justice, Economic Democracy, & Collective Liberation [Ep. 138]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Esteban Kelly is a visionary leader and compassionate strategist who inspires organizers by drawing on science fiction, social theory, and collective liberation. Uniting close friends and long-time co-organizers, Esteban was inspired to co-create AORTA culling together his creative energy and organizational skills for expanding food sovereignty, solidarity economy & cooperative business, gender justice & queer liberation, and movements for racial justice.

Esteban’s work is vast. In addition to working for AORTA, he is the Co-Executive Director for the US Federation of Worker Co-ops (USFWC), and a co-founder and current board President of the cross-sector Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA).

Internationally, Esteban has advocated for workplace democracy through the ICA (International Cooperative Alliance) and CICOPA (the international worker co-op federation), and for land reform and other social movements from Canada to Brazil.

After many years as a PhD student of Marxist Geographers at the CUNY Graduate Center, Esteban has left academia with a Masters in Anthropology. Most recently, Esteban worked as Development Director and then Staff Director for the New Economy Coalition. From 2009-2011, Esteban served as Vice President of the USFWC, and a board member of the Democracy At Work Institute (DAWI) and the US Solidarity Economy Network. He is also a previous Director of Education & Training and Board President of NASCO (North American Students for Cooperation) where he was inducted into their Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2011. He currently serves on the boards of the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) and the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA–CLUSA), and is an advisor to the network of artist-activist trainers, Beautiful Trouble.

Firmly rooted in West Philly, Esteban’s skills and analysis of transformative justice stem from his decade-plus of organizing with the Philly Stands Up collective. Similarly, Esteban worked through a major food co-op transition as a worker–owner at Mariposa Food Co-op, where he co-founded its Food Justice & Anti-Racism working group (FJAR) and labored to institutionalize the Mariposa Staff Collective. In light of these efforts, Esteban became a Mayoral appointee to the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council (FPAC), and works to advance education, systemic thinking, and anti-oppression organizing into all of his food advocacy work. 

You can contact Esteban at: esteban(at)aorta(dot)coop and follow him on Twitter: @estebantitos

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Some highlights from Shawn Berry’s conversation with Esteban Kelly include:

  • Esteban’s nonlinear and emergent visionary approach to movement leadership as well as his own career trajectory

  • Unpacking terms like Economic Democracy, Transformative Justice, & Collective Liberation

  • Exploring some of the historic cultural erasure of the cooperative economic heritage of communities of color

  • Differentiating capitalism from economics and business & increasing awareness of the is in the collective consciousness

  • How Esteban maintains hope and inspiration by focusing in on the generative work of constructing a better economy while being in allyship with resistance movements

Resources:

Frantz Fanon

Transformative Justice

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Shawn Berry, Partner at LIFT Economy, works as 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. You can follow Shawn on Twitter @sd_berry or email him shawn@lifteconomy.com.

Leah Penniman: Farming While Black [Ep. 137]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


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Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol educator, farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land. As co-Executive Director, Leah is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs - including farmer trainings for Black & Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for people living under food apartheid, and regional organizing toward equity in the food system. Leah holds an MA in Science Education and BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University, and is a Manye (Queen Mother) in Vodun. Leah has been farming since 1996 and teaching since 2002. The work of Leah and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Omega Sustainability Leadership Award, Presidential Award for Science Teaching, NYS Health Emerging Innovator Awards, and Andrew Goodman Foundation, among others. Her book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land (Chelsea Green Publishing, November 2018) is a love song for the land and her people. Follow her @soulfirefarm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Some highlights from Andrew Baskin’s conversation with Leah Penniman include:

  • Stories of unquantifiably valuable moments of healing of intergenerational trauma through relationship with land for people of color

  • How Leah’s new book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, overcomes cultural erasure by providing a rare resource for Black/POC food & farming practitioners to learn about, celebrate, and reclaim their ancestral legacy of being in deep relationship with land

  • Leah shares details on the chapter in the book, “White People Uprooting Racism," for whose interest in antiracist work as white allies

  • Soul Fire Farm’s relationship with intentional community Wildseed and a POC/Indigenous-led land trust is reclaiming spaces in alignment with shared values

Resources:

Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement by Dr. Monica White

The Color of Food by Natasha Bowens

Collective Courage A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice by Jessica Gordon Nembhard

The Movable School Goes to the Negro farmer by Thomas Monroe Campbell

Ed Whitfield: Racial Justice Meets Non-Extractive Financing [Ep. 78]

Being Human by Climbing Poetree

I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Open Up The Door, I'll Get It Myself) by James Brown

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

Edgar Villanueva: Decolonizing Wealth [Ep. 135]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.


Edgar Villanueva is a nationally-recognized expert on social justice philanthropy. Edgar currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Native Americans in Philanthropy and is a Board Member of the Andrus Family Fund, a national foundation that works to improve outcomes for vulnerable youth.

Edgar is an instructor with The Grantmaking School at the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University and currently serves as Vice President of Programs and Advocacy at the Schott Foundation for Public Education where he oversees grant investment and capacity building supports for education justice campaigns across the United States. Edgar previously held leadership roles at Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in North Carolina and at the Marguerite Casey Foundation in Seattle.

Edgar is the author of Decolonizing Wealth, which offers hopeful and compelling alternatives to the dynamics of colonization in the philanthropic and social finance sectors. Edgar holds two degrees from the Gillings Global School of Public Health at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Edgar is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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Some highlights from Ryan Honeyman’s Conversation with Edgar Villanueva include:

  • Edgar’s path, as a Native American, to the largely white space of philanthropy

  • What it means to “Decolonize Wealth”

  • The Seven Steps to Healing that funders can use to better serve the needs of Native/Indigenous people, people of color, and other marginalized communities to close the racial wealth gap

  • How Edgar’s message has been received in the philanthropic and financial services industries

  • The relationship between white supremacy and colonialism

  • What listeners can do to embody the message of decolonizing wealth in their everyday lives

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

 

Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at andrew@lifteconomy.com.

 

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.