Module 2 – Jeff

How do you make CST practical in your own investing? 

I have a long way to go, but here’s where I stand.

Professionally (solar for Catholic facilities – raising a fund)
From last module and the start of this module, I keep thinking about scale.

From an integral ecology/climate crisis perspective, we have until 2050 to get to net zero carbon.  Only 29 years to change the world’s infrastructure!  The need for speed and scale is mandatory. Yet how do you engage local communities? Structure every solar project as a coop? How do the most affected be involved in every project? How do you balance all the stakeholders and considerations embodied in CST while at a scale to solve the climate crisis?

Given the scale of the problem, it appears that harnessing ‘traditional capital and capitalist systems’ is the primary option to address the climate crisis.  It would be great to embody the totality of CST.  Right now the best I think I can do is to begin slowly turn the tanker ship towards CST principles while doing the work required to address the climate crisis as quickly as possible.  It’s already inherently aligned with integral ecology.  As investors perceive less risk in what we are doing, it’s easier to more fully integrate CST.

Tell me how I’m thinking wrong about this. How can I do it differently and still achieve scale in the time frame needed? (I know the church moves slowly.  It’s usually better to move slowly and intentionally.  … 29 more years to change our infrastructure … tick-tock)

I still have lots of questions:

  • Is traditional solar financing non-extractive? (run the numbers!)
    • Is the way I’m setting up the solar fund non-extractive?
  • How would a coop model work for a solar fund? (I don’t know enough about coops!)
    • Who are the members? The projects? The parishioners of projects? What about a religious order? How would investors be involved? Would they want to be involved
    • Funding: the whole point of the fund is that the communities have no capital to contribute. Would that have to change?
    • Fundraising: If I’m raising $10m, can I realistically raise that money $1,000 at a time from projects AFTER they have agreed to do the project or $250,000 at a time prior to the project saying yes?
    • Timing: do I have to have all the projects lined up before I can raise money?
    • Diversification: If I have 20 projects in 7 different states, how

I related to the discussion from Phil at Apis + Heritage. I’m a first time fund manager too. He’s doing something bold. It’s inspiring since a lot of time I’m more focused on how I make sure the first fund is very successful for investors so I have the opportunity to create the second fund where I can more deeply embody CST.

Personally (accredited investor)

From a personal perspective, this module was mind-blowing. There are so many investment options that I have never known of, or would have ever found. Compared to my professional work, I’m excited to start small, to invest in several of the opportunities that we read about, get involved, explore, build experience, and then share my experience with others in my situation. I can embody most of the CST principles in my new investments. That’s practical and doable. It also continues to diversify my portfolio. There’s a lot of hard work to do with my existing portfolio!

Impact Investing for a corporate foundation

On my current board, we are only a couple years into our impact investing journey. Initially, we had a lot of learning to even define what impact investing meant for us and how it fits into our mission and programmatic direction. We started out simple: PRIs to well established CDFIs in the affordable housing space. Learn, act, repeat. We are back into a learning phase (working with Stephanie Gripne at the Impact Finance Center) before we act again. As Zebras Unite talks about, the ‘old way’ is hard to change. An iterative process seems like the only way to change a corporate foundation … unless there is some critical groundswell of a desire to change AND the right facilitator/staff. That’s rare in what I’ve seen.

If anyone knows of investment options in the construction trades industry in the middle of the country (Minneapolis/Chicago to Phoenix), let me know! (job training, job creation, investing in small businesses in the trades, etc.)

Action items:

  • Follow the Seed Commons article to evaluate my financing strategy.
  • Reach out to Blake Jones
  • Can a solar fund be structured as a coop?
  • Personally invest $50,000 in the options we are learning about within a month.

One thought on “Module 2 – Jeff

  1. Appreciate you calling out the question of scale. Also appreciate your publicly committing your personal capital. Will be interested to hear how that journey goes. Also interested to hear answers to your questions re: solar fund!


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