Slow Money National Gathering Notes
November 20, 2014

SM 2014 at KYSlow Money NYC was well-represented at the recent Slow Money National Gathering in Louisville, KY from November 10-12, 2014, helping to extend the reach of our network.

Advisory Board Members Derek Denckla and Claude Arpels along with Amanda Fuller, a member of Foodshed Investor NY, were invited to attend the first-ever Master Class for leaders of local networks from around the US and the world (France was represented!).

Derek gave a Workshop “What are we doing to engage people and get more money to flow” describing the work that Slow Money NYC has been doing for the last four years. If you are interested, here is a link to Slides from Slow Money Master Class 2014-11-10. The Master Class was the first attempt to provide a formal program to help train, educate and network among local leaders of Slow Money networks. We made great connections to many new activists from around the Country and reconnoitered with old friends and allies.

We learned some good new organizing strategies, such as becoming a Trustee on Kiva Zip (application just completed!) so that our network can support startup entrepreneurs who are too early for funding from Foodshed Investors NY. Also, Kiva Zip can help democratize the investing approach of Slow Money NYC, giving the broader network of unaccredited investors the opportunity to provide a zero-interest loan alongside a capital raise for an enterprise that may be slated to receive financing from Foodshed Investors NY.

We all came away intrigued again by the possibility of starting a Investment Club for making small loans, like No Small Potatoes, in Maine or personal loans with a common structure, like Slow Money North Carolina. Someone from our network would have to step up to organize one of these efforts.

Christy Brown celebrates Mary Berry, Vandana Shiva and Wendell Berry (left to right)

Louisville is an interesting town with lots of lively spots and good food.  Thanks to the organizing energy of Nicole Shore, Zero to Sixty Commnunications, we got to see a lot of the City by coordinating two hugely successful Slow Money NYC networking events during the Gathering. On Monday, December 10, we had a dinner and drinks Mixer at the Garage Bar, attended by almost 35 people, where much “Bourbonizing” was accomplished thanks to several full-bottle donations made by Claude and Amanda. The next day we had a networking lunch attended by about 20 at the DISH on Market, where we sampled the local classic “Hot Brown” and shared intentions for working together in the North East.  Advisory Board Member Jennifer Grossman attended the Gathering and rallied us all for a very fun, more intimate group dinner on Tuesday night.  We spent a lot of time hanging out with John Friedman, attorney from Hudson NY, who helped us organized Local Farms Fund.

Tour of Fox Hollow Farm, Biodynamic Beef Operation.
Tour of Fox Hollow Farm, Biodynamic Beef Operation.

Fun fact about Kentucky: The state has more farms than any other state other than Iowa. However, when I was asked by our guest from France, Aymeric Jung, what food was associated with the Bluegrass State, I had to say it wasn’t food at all.  It’s Bourbon.  And it seems to be the social and economic fuel for the town of Louisville.  To be fair, we did visit an amazing biodynamic farm as part of the Master Class, Fox Hollow Farm.

Highlights of the gathering were the opening talk by Douglas Payeton, the maestro and motive force behind the Lexicon of Sustainability, and closing remarks by Vandana Shiva, who set the context on Veteran’s Day for the militaristic and violent takeover of the world food system by Western Industry trained on war-like product design and strategems. Frightening and eye-opening at once. Derek came face to face with food movement heroes Wendell Berry and Vandana Shiva at a party at Christy Brown’s estate, where the owner enlisted him to play spoons (along with Amy Domini of Domini Funds) to some live Bluegrass Music.

The trip was long and exhausting but well worth the time and effort to connect with others and build this activist community intent on bringing money down to earth.