Welcome to our latest www.Community-Wealth.org e-newsletter. Once again, we have added dozens of new links, articles, reports, and other materials to the site. Look for this symbol to find the most recent additions. Here are some of our key updates:
- The seventh in our continuing series of profiles of Community Wealth-Building Cities: Atlanta, Georgia.
- A new section of models, research resources, publications and more aboutAnchor Institutions. Here you'll find the latest information about how the economic impact of place-based institutions including universities, nonprofit hospitals, foundations, churches, and museums is being leveraged to benefit communities.
- The second of our continuing series of conversations with community wealth building leaders: Rosalind Greenstein of the Lincoln Land Institute, a Massachusetts-based research center that recently helped launch the National Community Land Trust Network.
- A report on a Community Wealth Building Roundtable held last fall inScranton, Pennsylvania. The Roundtable is one in a series of community-based wealth building summits The Democracy Collaborative is organizing with local partners around the country.
- And last, but not least, Community-Wealth.org has launched its C-W Blog. We'll be posting items each week about up-to-the-moment developments, breaking stories, new legislation, and more. If you see something we should announce or feature, please let us know!
NEW & RECOMMENDED:
Capitalism 3.0: Outlining a New Vision to Restructure Our Economy for Nature, Equity & Community
In Capitalism 3.0, Peter Barnes, a cofounder and former President of the socially-oriented business Working Assets, proposes to create countervailing institutions, operating on trusteeship principles (similar to how pension funds are managed), that can curb the negative social and economic effects of contemporary capitalism. Fees charged to individuals and corporations for their use of scarce environmental and other common resources might help finance national health insurance, guarantee a minimum income to all, and support the local arts.
The entire book can be downloaded here: book-barnes.pdf (704KB)
For more information or to purchase a copy for your bookshelf, seewww.capitalism3.com
Study Reveals Two-Tier, Race-Based Lending Economy in the United States
A March 2007 study coordinated by six community-based groups found large racial disparities when it examined the loan portfolios of seven major mortgage lenders in six U.S. cities. While only 6.9% of whites received high-cost “subprime” (at least three points above prime) mortgages, 32.8% of Latinos and 41.1% of African-Americans have loans with these higher rates. A key cause of this gap appears to be that the subprime lender subsidiaries of mainstream lenders (such as Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual) focus their marketing efforts in minority neighborhoods.
Neighborhood Funders Group Confronts “Elephants in the Room”
Gar Alperovitz recently delivered a keynote address to the Neighborhood Funders Group annual “Building Community, Building Assets” conference in Durham, NC. About 200 foundation and community development leaders gathered to hear Alperovitz's speech: “Confronting Elephants in the Room: The Emerging New Community Wealth-Building Possibility.” For those committed to equitable community development, Alperovitz argued, the big unspoken issues that must be confronted (the “elephants in the room”) include the widening income-wealth gap, the fiscal crisis at all levels of government, and other political and economic trends that are decisively impacting our country's communities.
IN THE NEWS:
California Asset-Building Bill Runs Into Immigration Politics Roadblock
In early March, State Senators Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) introduced SB 752, which would have made California the first state in the nation to provide $500 tax-free, interest-bearing savings accounts at birth to every newborn. Money could be withdrawn after the age of 18 to fund education, buy a home or start a retirement account. Parents would be encouraged to contribute to the accounts. Two days later, however, the bill's prospects had already begun to fade, as Dutton withdrew his support. According to Sacramento Bee columnist Peter Schrag, immigration politics explains why.
Social Enterprise Movement Matures
As this series of articles in the Chronicle of Philanthropy illustrates, social enterprise has become increasingly common in the nonprofit world. For instance, Hope Services of San Jose, CA [one of whose nonprofit businesses is pictured at left], which works with mentally disabled workers, earns $7 million of its $36 million budget from enterprise income. St. Anthony's Farm (near Petaluma, CA), employs recovering drug addicts to help generate $1.5 million a year in gross sales of organic milk; this in turn contributes $400,000 a year to the charity's operations.
For a general overview, seewww.philanthropy.com/free/articles/v19/i06/06000601.htm
To learn more about HOPE Services, see,www.philanthropy.com/free/articles/v19/i06/06001201.htm
Information on St. Anthony's Farm, can be found atwww.philanthropy.com/free/articles/v19/i06/06002001.htm
Virginia Small-Town Mayor Proposes $30-million Biomass Energy Investment
George B. Fitch, the Republican mayor of Warrenton, VA has pledged to make his rural town of 8,000 residents energy independent by 2010.The keystone of this effort is a $30 million plant the city will build at the county dump. The facility will convert garbage, agricultural residue, manure and other biomass into electricity and ethanol. Mayor Fitch says he hopes to earn the town a modest profit through the energy independence program.
New Report Examines Role of Immigrant Entrepreneurs
According to a study by the New York City-based Center for an Urban Future released this February, immigrants have outpaced native-born Americans in business and job creation across the country. In the city of Los Angeles, for instance, first-generation immigrants had created at least 22 of what were the city's 100 fastest growing companies in 2005. Expansion of support of micro-lending programs could, the authors assert, result in further job and business growth.
Annual Asset-Building Policy Report
In February, the New America Foundation released its annual asset policy report. The past year saw some limited gains in the asset building field, particularly the introduction of split-refunds on federal income tax forms and the passage of a federal law capping interest rates on loans to military families. This year, New America expects more substantial legislative action to curtail predatory lending, as well as a variety of efforts to develop children's saving accounts.
Proposals for a New Social Enterprise Legal Structure
In September 2006, the Aspen Institute convened a group of 40 attorneys, investors, finance and tax consultants, and field leaders, as well as founders and executives of several socially-oriented businesses, to discuss whether new legal structures could help foster greater social enterprise activity. One proposal was to create a new category of corporation (a socially responsible corporation or SRC), which would protect designated companies from being sued by shareholders for failing to single-mindedly pursue profit maximization. Another idea was to create a “social benefit” designation which would allow foundations to invest in such companies, although any profits earned would remain taxable.
C-W.ORG INTERVIEWS WITH COMMUNITY BUILDERS
C-W.org Interviews with Community Wealth Builders
Rosalind Greenstein is Senior Fellow and Chair of the Department of Economic and Community Development at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, based in Cambridge, MA. Founded in 1974, Lincoln focuses its educational work on land policy and land-related taxation. Through its Community Lots initiative, www.communitylots.org, Lincoln provides technical assistance to a number of community groups—including the growing community land trust (CLT) movement. C-W.org interviews Greenstein to learn her perspective on current issues facing community land trusts, as well as the movement's future prospects.
NACEDA....a voice for community economic development:
New Community Development Group Holds Inaugural Summit
An alliance of state associations of community development corporations has launched the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA). Roland Anglin, formerly with the Ford Foundation and Seedco and now Executive Director of the Initiative for Regional and Community Transformation at Rutgers University, delivered the keynote address.
Community Reinvestment Coalition Takes Aim at Predatory Lending
More than 600 people gathered at the annual conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, held March 14-17 in Washington, D.C. The conference was marked, on the one hand, by member frustration at the nation's rapidly rising foreclosure rate, but also by growing expectation that 2007 might be the year that Congress passes meaningful legislation to restrict predatory lending practices. Plenary speakers at the conference included Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., House Financial Services Chair Barney Frank (D-MA), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Vice Chairman Martin Gruenberg of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Director John Reich of the Office of Thrift Supervision.
COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING ROUNDTABLES
Pennsylvania Roundtable on Building Community Wealth
In the fall of 2006, The Democracy Collaborative convened another of its Community Wealth Building Roundtables in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Sponsored by the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, The Scranton Area Foundation, and the University of Scranton, the forum brought together the Mayor and City Council President, labor representatives, business leaders, community advocates, and university presidents. Following the Roundtable, community task forces have been organized to move forward initiatives to foster local employee ownership and to encourage the city's anchor institutions to target their purchasing toward locally owned businesses.
For an overview, see execsum-scranton.pdf (72KB)
For a full transcript, see report-scranton.pdf (240KB)
What can a “Norman” (see Norman Rockwell 50 BerkShare note, pictured at left) buy? Maybe dinner for two in Great Barrington, MA. Launched last fall by the E.F. Schumacher Society and the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce to encourage local shopping, more than 225 local businesses now participate in this local currency system. To date, over 400,000 BerkShares have circulated. And the effort has garnered coverage from ABC News and the New York Times, among others.
For clippings, see: www.berkshares.org
Community Investment Network
A project of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the Community Investment Network provides information on issues ranging from Community Reinvestment Act ratings on banks, predatory lending policy debates, and financial educations programs, to community development policy and links to local community reinvestment coalition organizations across the United States.
Coming out of the movement for corporate social responsibility and organized by Business Ethics magazine and the Tellus Institute, a Boston-based nonprofit, Corporation 20/20 aims to move beyond calls for corporate social responsibility to develop new “rules of the game” in areas such as director duties, capitalization, liability, and accountability to make corporate social responsibility not just a good thing to do, but a requirement of doing business.
Founded in 1999, First Homes provides an innovative example of a large community anchor, the Mayor Clinic, using a community land trust model to meet the employer's workforce housing objectives. Since 1999, $14 million has been raised and 650 new residences have been built. The total includes more than 420 new single-family homes (including nearly 50 community land trust properties) and more than 225 new below-market-rate rental units.
Since 1992, FareStart in Seattle has provided nutritious meals to those in need while helping the homeless and disadvantaged gain work skills running its social enterprise restaurant. Proceeds from the restaurant cover roughly 40% of the group's budget. FareStart produces over 2,500 meals daily and has helped transform over 1,500 lives through its 16-week job training and placement program. Nearly half of the students involved in its training program are placed directly into jobs in the food-service industry.