Love your neighbor.

Bernie on a Journey - Part 19 - November 22, 2019

11-24-2019

This week's vlog covered three key ways we can consume conscientiously during this holiday season:

Throughout my research and holiday preparations, I have been thinking about how to do the most good with my spending. In capitalism, money is the ballot. If you don't give money to it, then you don't find it useful or desirable. Through economic competition (as long as there isn't market manipulation) the things you want succeed and stick around. I felt this most strongly when I was at a craft fair this past weekend. Buying goods from local craftspeople, I was struck by how satisfying it was to hand money directly to someone who spent time and honed a craft. Personally, I feel better about leaving a craft fair with a bunch of handmade presents than leaving a big box store having spent the same amount. 

This experience made me want to encourage others to shop local this holiday season, because it does matter to local business owners. It allows them to get recompense for their time making crafts, and I feel that in a way it shows you love your neighbor and their handiwork. This also drew to my mind the concept of impact investing, where in one's stock portfolio you intentionally invest in businesses that are making the world a better place by some measure while still getting an economic return (https://www.ubs.com/microsites/sustainable-investing/en/education.html?campID=SEM_NonRLSA_US_Spotlight_SI_Generic_Cold_BMM&ef_id=CjwKCAiA8ejuBRAaEiwAn-iJ3s6LrmqraA_4S3SigeeTMXk5WEAq_Aa9u4KVSjYxhsm8XiwINxbqDxoCcvQQAvD_BwE:G:s&s_kwcid=AL!430!3!358044497976!b!!g!!%2Bimpact%20%2Binvesting).

While I am not investing in the stock market (yet), I still like to think of my dollars spent intentionally at local or ethically aligned businesses, as making an impact. Even when money is tight, I can still be intentional on where I spend and how I source my gifts and essentials. This includes choosing to go to businesses in the less ritzy parts of town. I intentionally try to shop in areas that are historically disadvantaged, because money that flows in that direction can make the case for improvements and other business investments in the area. This motivation was made even stronger by a seminar I was able to attend this week on the Community Reinvestment Act (1974) by the Chicago Federal Reserve and Purdue University Fort Wayne this week.

For those not familiar with the Community Reinvestment Act, here is an explanatory video produced by the San Francisco Federal Reserve that was shown at our seminar (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdOpsTLvbeY&t=334s). Basically, it is a federal regulation to combat the ill effects of redlining that caused systematic disinvestment in some areas of cities. Banks are actually graded on their investment and allocation of resources to these historically disadvantaged parts, but they are not required to give out money like a philanthropy would be. Rather, they are encouraged to help fund viable projects in those regions. Therefore, equipping people with strong business tools and a sound financial education is crucial to enabling them to access these dollars. It was wonderful to see how banks are interested in investing and solving historic inequalities, but it was clear from the discussion at the seminar that much more needs to be done. I am doing my part by educating myself and sharing what I can with others.

This holiday season, I am choosing to vote for my community with my dollars and I am going to try and reframe my economic priorities to enable opportunities for others as well. Please join me!