Transcript of Joel Solomon

Gino Borges:

The purpose of the Journey to Impact series is to explore the personal side of people’s relationship between resources and their own life. Some of us have been blessed with extreme abundance and a lot of us have also been blessed with an enormous amount of trust from others to allocate money for positive purposes such as social and environmental outcomes that we all want to live under. Joel epitomizes that theme.

Joel is the founder of Renewal Funds, which is Canada’s largest mission venture capital firm and early B Corp with $98 million under management in organics and environmental tech. How I really came to admire Joel was when I fell in love with his book, The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power Purpose and Capitalism, which is essentially a personal memoir on his journey to impact.
He’s also the founding member of Social Venture Circle, which is an organization of entrepreneurs and impact investors and also board chair at Hollyhock on Cortez Island, which is one of my favorite places on earth. If you haven’t been, find a reason to go. You actually don’t even need a reason to go. When you arrive, the reason will emerge. Joel is not only of formal capacity at Hollyhock, but Joel enjoys just hanging around doing gardening and helping in the kitchen – one of the most humble, high achieving, impact investing social entrepreneurs that you will meet.

Joel Solomon:

Thank you. It’s a pleasure. This is a unique type of interview and I’m really happy about it.

Gino Borges:

Joel, instead of beginning with where you are right now, take us back to that moment where you realized early on in your life that something was either a little off your relationship with the system. Sometimes we don’t know what’s what. At times, we don’t know whether we’re off, the system’s off, or our relationship with the system. Maybe you can start with where that tipping point was for you on your personal journey.

Joel Solomon:

We can talk about all three of those. However, the good news was being born to some parents that had very positive influences on me. My mother gets the primary credit. My father was the entrepreneur. He was the child of a Jewish immigrant that had escaped depression in Russia and ended up in Atlanta, Georgia – put on a boat at age 10 and sent to cousins in Atlanta. Ku Klux Klan marched around their neighborhood and scared him up to Chattanooga. My parents met on a blind date to the 1952 Democratic Convention where my father’s congress person, then senator, was running for president. The idea of running for president was a big deal those days, of course, and has become an even bigger deal.

But in any case, Estes Kefauver lost to Adlai Stevenson in 1952. And in 1956, he became the VP nominee, but they lost to Eisenhower both times. On the last night of the Democratic Convention, my father had a friend in Chicago that got him a date with my mother and so they went to the convention. I was born in a political business family.

My mother is the interesting part here. Recently, we celebrated her 89th birthday coinciding with her to receival of a lifetime achievement award in photography. Back in those days, she was 23, my father was 32, and they were considered old for marriage. They had to date by 16 hour car trips between Chicago and Chattanooga. But my mother made the decision to get married to get out of her context and ended up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was quite a thing for a Chicagoan, and moved into a Jewish clan.There are a lot of stories to tell, like one including Uncle Harold who was the gynecologist, you know.

My mother was enveloped by a family. She had careers and early on in that, she was influenced by Betty Ford in early feminism. She saw the world non-normally and had a lot of questions about it. I was raised in an environment where there were a lot of questions asked or things that weren’t quite comfortable. We’re talking about the Jim Crow Era in the South. I’m just going to assume people are familiar with what that means. We had colored bathrooms, colored water fountains, and my family had gotten into the movie theater business and owned the colored movie theater.

That was part of the milieu. She chafed at the bid about all that, ended up working for the agency for international development under Kennedy and was the first, I think government recruiter, on black campuses across the South. Back then, the AID was considered highly noble, a go-help-the-world kind of a thing. She had many careers, and she encourage me to look at the world in more ways than what seemed to be the prescribed pathway. There was eventually a day after university where I was called to the boardroom of the shopping mall business. It had grown from movie theaters to shopping malls, and the elders of the firm, they’d been bought by a New York firm. This was some of the New York elder Jews, my father and a couple of his cousins.

“We’re ready for you to come to the family business.” It was a little bit of, “someday this can all be yours,” that sort of a moment. But, I was already disaffected by the 60s. Vietnam War, Chicago police riots outside the convention, Kent State. I had been sent to military school because the public schools were considered so poor – my father had graduated from one of the military schools. So I had a lot of confusing forces that were pushing in on me. From that came a lot of questioning and curiosity and disgruntle. I had come from a long period through adolescence all the way into university when I was not very happy. I had a good time some of the time, but I think I was probably mildly depressed and very confused about the pathway to go into being a shopping mall developer.
My mother who became a photographer later traveled the world, and I got to see all levels of society, all different kinds of circumstances. Those are the seeds that got me to bust out.

Gino Borges:

Let’s continue about that shopping mall moment because it is a pivotal point in your book, in terms of your storyline. What happened after you got offered the Golden Keys? What was your response and then where did you go from there?

Joel Solomon:

I very nervously said, “I’ll think about it.” Leaving, I decided I needed time to think about my life and I took off on a journey. Through my post university time, early to mid-20s, I started experimenting in many ways – that’d be a code language people could understand some of. But that experimentation was also, how can I get myself grounded and what really matters.

I saw a post for an exotic gardening course in California. At the time I was working at ski resorts in Wyoming, Iowa, Idaho– Driggs, Idaho for those who might know that area. But when I saw the five-week gardening course in California, it held sort of a mystical feeling, thinking I can find the answers there. So, I headed for the Occidental Center for Arts in Ecology. There was a five-week garden course with just 3 of us. There I was exposed to Rudolph Steiner principles, biodynamics, Alan Chadwick, a combination of a French intensive biodynamic, appropriate technologies, homesteading, solar bread bakers and compost toilets, all this kind of stuff. And, the swimming hole. Now I was able to find out what California hippie-dom was all about.

My father was still around at this time. He ended up going into Jimmy Carter’s government while I was in California. I did get a phone call one day saying, “I’ve uncovered a lot of scandal at the General Services Administration. There are going to be Senate and House hearings and I could really use your support.” That was the last reeling me back in.

It was too much to pass up on. I got a job a couple of days a week on an organic farm in the West Virginia panhandle, and then several days a week, I would put on a suit and go to the General Services Administration and sit with my phone. I sold vegetables on the street two blocks away. I was doing the double life. I actually had worked in Jimmy Carter’s campaign and I knew all the White House staff; they were all 28, 30, 32. I was 25, 27 by then. You can see these contrasting influences. I watched my father get asked to resign or they floated a newspaper story that he was going to be asked to resign. He did all the Senate and House testimony and put everything in the record, and then resigned.

From there, I bailed. I had met people in California that had later moved to Cortes Island, about a 100km up the coast from Vancouver. Pretty remote and exotic, Cortes Island at the time was 600 people; it hadn’t been long that they’d had a ferry and electric power. I ended up at a place called Cold Mountain Institute just after it had folded. It was a relative of Esalen – led by a brother-in-law of Esalen where they were doing 3 & 9-month deep retreats. Back then, you could go a lot further in taking a part of the human construct and pushing people deeper experimentally. That was over. But, I got hooked in with a bunch of mystics and activists, and the human potential movement people. That anchored me. In fact, I’m going to finish next month, 25 years as the Hollyhock board chair. I’ll be 65 this year. So many emotions!

Gino Borges:

As you made your way to Cortes Island, you’re family is still in the shopping mall business? You’re still linked with your family money, but there becomes a moment in your life where that money transfers to your balance sheet. Take us through there and some of the internal reconciliations that occurred as a result of that inheritance.

Joel Solomon:

The first was a $50,000 payout that came from a real estate partnership that I knew very little about. I called a friend, who was a peace activist and a justice worker from religious and spiritual traditions. I had met him and I called him. He was the one person that I could think of and I called him and I said, “I’ve inherited some dirty money. Is there a business that I could invest in so I can transfer that money into something I believe in?” Shopping malls were dirty because they were paving paradise. They were mono-culturing, they were changing the face of things, killing off downtowns, and all that. So, the first $25,000 went to the people that had started Hollyhock. I asked them if they needed some money and they of course accepted my $25,000, and I became the first partner after the original founders.

After that, I met with Chuck Maathai, this character who did revolving loan funds work for low income people to buy their trailer parks or their apartment buildings. But, he did know a little bit about some social enterprise things. He said he had some pals that are trying to start a nonprofit in New Hampshire to prove that family farms matter and have a role. I thought, that sounds great.

“Oh, and they’re making yogurt. They’ve got five cows, they’re making yogurt, and they’re selling enough of it, they want to buy some more cows.” So I said, okay, I’ll put the other $25,000 in there. The yogurt was organic and it was old European style and there was no organic yogurt in North America. It sounded okay, that’s clean enough.

So I wrote the $25,000 check as a loan. Then, I got a call before they cashed the check. Gary Hirshberg called me up and said, “uh, we’re selling too much yogurt. We can’t be a not-for-profit. We’ll never raise the capital. We’re going to be a for-profit. Would you invest in our company?” That was Stoneyfield Yogurt. I could claim instinct, but that’s about it.

There wasn’t any smarts involved in that. That was just sheer, get this money in somewhere that I could be proud of. So anyhow, that led to lots more things. But that was the $50,000.

In the mid-80s, after about 5 years on Cortes, I’d gone off to caretake at the Orca Research Laboratory for the guy that brought the whale campaign to Greenpeace. Some of the original Greenpeace founders were involved in Hollyhock, also.

My father died from a genetic kidney disease, which I too inherited. That had a big influence on all of this because I was diagnosed with, “you can die, you can die very soon, or you could live longer. There’s nothing you can do about it.” That led me to think about food and what am I eating, reading labels and choosing organics.

I had the early experiment of $50,000, but now I inherited $3 million of illiquid real estate tied up in partnerships. It seemed like a vast, vast fortune. It was worth more than it is today, but it was not that vast. Some of the people on this call would know that. But it was a lot for me and I went into a spiritual crisis. Am I going to hold this? Do I own it? Am I gonna own it? And, of course, I succumbed.
But in the meantime, I had heard about one of the early philanthropic and issues of a money organization called Threshold Foundation with Josh Mailman, Wayne Silby, all kinds of interesting characters. Ram Dass eventually joined, too. There were a lot of very interesting people there. When I’d been told about it earlier, I’d said, “no way am I going to go hang out with a bunch of rich people talking about money issues. No way!”

But, by then I was ready, and it had a lot of esoteric practices. It was like the Hollyhock/ Threshold match was actually closer than I realized at the time. I joined Threshold Foundation, and then, SVN, Social Venture Network spun out of that. I believe that Toniic and many, many of the organizations people are involved with today – somebody was disgruntled that SVN wasn’t doing investing. So then came Investor’s Circle.

We needed to work on corporate issues. So BSR came out of that. We needed to work at universities, at a business schools. As I watched all of that unfold, I was influenced by the circuit for multidimensional learning.

Gino Borges:

It seems like this all set you up for what’s currently called “impact investing,” but where did it crystallize, your occupation with finance in general as a vehicle for creating particular outcomes? A that point in time, there was really very minimal conversation going on about capital. You intuitively knew that there’s dirty and clean capital. How did that all crystallize in the last 20, 30 years to how people know you today as the guy that moves money through the system in impactful ways, not just for yourself, but more importantly and a much larger scale for others?

Joel Solomon:

We’re about to finish with our current fund that will go over a hundred million this time. There’s some symbolic importance to that. With Threshold on the philanthropic side and SVN on the entrepreneur and investment side – hearing the stories that were like some of the most exciting heroic stories of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and Stonyfield Yogurt and a Seventh Generation and many, many companies that were launched by people that were freaks and outliers and true believers. But, I got to sit at the knee and hear the stories and watch those stories. I had hoped there was clean money. I still don’t know if there’s clean money. It’s all got blood dripping off of it. But, it’s cleaner money.

There’s definitely cleaner, but I don’t know about clean. I did get surrounded by an ecosystem that had me believing this was an exciting place to be. There were opportunities you could have achievement and accomplishment and satisfaction. I was a little bit naive and innocent about it too, but I could see that there were pathways in which I could use what I was born into and really what I’d been trained at the knee of a successful entrepreneur. It was about the values and the meaning and the purpose of what you brought to money. You didn’t have to do it the same way; you could look at every dollar as a vote, as a consciousness choice, as a moral choice, as a way to support things that matter.

I got very excited about the potential of money. For the majority of my life, I was mostly hanging out with activists and dropouts and spiritual people. I got on fire about the idea of the reform of money, the repurposing of money. It was a somewhat, if not fairly, if not completely neutral, substance by itself. It’s what you did with it and how you used it. That led me down a path where later the language evolved and the terms were invented. I just rode that wave over the years because I was infinitely fascinated by people in relationships and stories. I followed and got involved in many of the networks and learned the trade.
Gino: Part of the appeal for me and the impact investing space is frankly the people that I meet are just much more interesting than the one dimensional people trained in finance per se. it’s interesting, a lot of people in impact investing actually don’t come from finance backgrounds, they learn the finance. They actually come more with the intentionality, the activist leaning, or the Progressive Bent. Then they back into the finance. There’s always that push and pull. Maybe touch on how your book, The Clean Money Revolution, provides a confirmation that the way we can exist in the world can blur all the silos between professional and personal, nonprofit profit.

To me, your book is a license and permission to say you be you, and your group be your group, and realize that there’s no one way to do this. In fact, your chapter 9 says look until you realize some sense of who you are and who you want to be in the world. Then back into the techniques and the strategies and the networks and so forth.

Joel Solomon:

That was very well said. I think I’m going to have to switch positions with you and interview you now!

I needed a philosophical base to understand money. What I concluded was simple; it’s extraction from the planet or from people, commodified and turned into an assemble for exchange. You can extract in super damaging ways obviously. It’s inherently there to be molded, tuned, refined. Send money to the therapist, basically. Send money on a personal growth journey. Money can and should be an expression of love. What a powerful substance to share it, to give it, to exchange it. It can be a very beautiful thing. The loss of self awareness of deep understanding of life or having a point of view that goes this way causes us to be extremely unconscious with it or to buy into dominant belief systems about it that have been created.

Then it becomes a commodification and the exploitive part of it gets wrapped in and forgiven because it’s just the way it is. So I’m supposed to make money and then I’m supposed to make more money and then I’m supposed to make more money.

I was going to go back to my mother and say somehow, I think she planted the seeds and then to some of these other influences to say no, I’m not going to…I don’t need to accept that. Money’s a sacred substance. What’s embodied in it came from people in places. I have to re-sacralize that substance. I’m active in the world, and I’m engaged, and I’m obviously imperfect and have all sorts of contradictions that I live with. I love the art and practice of generating success, and money’s a great tool to judge that with.

I love seeing innovation and meaningful products and services and companies happen, or activism, personal development. All this, it’s a fuel that can turbo-charge what you believe in. I began to at least convince myself, rightly or wrongly, that as a spiritual practitioner with this profane substance, what a great ministry, so to speak, or what a great life work to help money do things that are deeply positive and meaningful and that maybe rebalances injustice and maybe creates alternatives to trashing the garden of Eden that we live in.

Once I got hooked on that little messianic-tainted idea, you look around and realize, well, there’s “anti-capitalists” and there’s people that just don’t want to think about it – the love of money and infinitely growing it. Whatever privileges and power that seems to give to one, you go to church, go to temple, go to the mosque on the weekend, forgive yourself for everything you did all week and what your money’s doing while you’re sitting there.

Where’s your money right now? It’s got your name on it. Where is it? What’s it doing to people in places–that kind of thinking. If you let yourself go there, you need a few guardrails or you just spin off and go be a monk on the mountain side unless that’s what you want to do. But, I did find it to be a kind of a spiritual practice that was very practical, tangible and in the mix. I don’t have to preach to everybody, but I’m making choices all the time with money.

Gino Borges:

Embedded in that is that at some point you had to realize how much is on the material plane. People do have to ask themselves, what is enough? How much is enough? How do you reconcile that question? Obviously you do have the capacity to earn a lot more. You do earn something. And, you do have a body of assets yourself. Just very curious on how you started to navigate that notion of enough because I know it’s coming up more and more in wealth.

Joel Solomon:

I think we all have a moral obligation to ask “how much is enough” and then you have a moral obligation to ask “and what are you going to do with it?” If you’re going to make more, you have a higher bar to meet. Why are you going to make more? Because it’s fun? Because it’s satisfying? Because you’ve got more power? You can have more tools; you can do good in the world. The common explanation is because I’m going to give it away. I’m going to do something good. Too few people actually follow through with that. What we tend to do is we create a foundation and then it goes out and wreaks havoc across the landscape with its investment side. So, you can give away a little bit of the earnings to work on solving the damage that you just created.

So if you just think about the money system in a very practical way. Give me $1 billion and I will have it out. Name your amount of time, you can give me a weekend. I’ll get $1 billion out on Monday. Obviously not, it won’t be out the door, in the mail and nothing, but I’ll allocate it, and it can do so much good in the world. We’ve got half the world’s population living on less than two or three bucks a day. That’s not who I’m talking to here. Those people get a pass card. Like, you got to survive and you’ve got to take care of your family. We have a very unfair stacked system. Money is not equally distributed. And we continue, those of us that accumulate power, stack it worse, most of us who do. So this is a sickness. This is a moral sickness in my mind. This is not an anti-capitalist statement. Capitalism’s a very effective system. But what the hell are you gonna do with it? How’s it going to affect your family?

Gino Borges:

It sounds like you’re saying, you’re going to have to intentionalize this pie that you’ve been blessed with or accumulating. Intentionalize it some way, because you’ve started navigating. You have your fund; it is intentionalizing capital. It’s using some conventional metrics and financial performance and yield. So you are navigating the pie, and that pie will grow. The question there probably constantly comes back to your group, are we intentionalized in this capital through and through all the way to the founders of these companies? How do you keep that intention out in front of the pile of money? How does that intentionality move through the system based on the stuff that you are being asked to be responsible for?

Joel Solomon:

I’m a pragmatic idealist or an idealistic pragmatist. The world is complex and you’ve got to like solving problems. You don’t just snap your fingers, and you don’t just pray it into existence in my belief anyway. We need to intervene. Anyone who has any calling whatsoever for higher purpose and is involved with money, I think has a responsibility to intervene on behalf of what your deepest values and belief systems are to affect things. But affecting things, pragmatists see it’s a complicated system out in the world, in every system. They’re very complicated. Times are getting more and more complex. So the inspiration was I’d already learned that there were all kinds of fun and meaningful and satisfying ways to make money that actually I could share in mixed company and be proud of.
But I also believed that strategically, you could make money, but do it in ways that intentionally are moving the bar towards less damage and destruction, more health, more wellbeing. Money influences political systems, too. So that’s ultimately underneath this, your public policy. You’re either consciously or unconsciously stacking the system or working on the system.

My mother would have liked me to be an artist probably. I hope I am an artist, but in a different medium. We’re talking to this fund which grew out of a small but substantive family office effort that was quite unique and deeply rooted in this kind of thinking.

We had been investing and we said, well maybe it’s time to see if other people would invest with us. We’re still talking 12-14 years ago. SRI was pretty strong and there were those of us that were doing seed investing, angel investing, things like that. But the principle of let’s find good companies – let’s build a product. It’s effectively a teaching tool – a way to convey a set of principals through our acts and through how we did things, not really preaching. We believe that organic foods and environmental technologies and climate issues and justice issues are going to make or break the future. There’s a whole financial component to all of them. So here’s a product that might build a group of people that are going to be affected by it. So will their families, their friends, their advisors, and their wealth managers. So that’s the origin of it. From there, it’s just an investment fund that carries the values of the team who put it on.

Gino Borges:

Do you look for opportunities? You have this group of 50 to 100 people that are invested in now close to $200 million into your firm. One of the things I’m moved by is actually using, so not only bringing their money in house, but you are looking at as a teaching vehicle so that network can actually accelerate, amplify, deepen your intentions as well. It’s a small amount of input into those networks that will lead to additional climate change strategies alongside the ones that you’re making in terms of capital allocation.

So, I’m just curious on how you’ve magnified. Funds are often just talked about as “write the check and we’ll send you a quarterly report,” but is there more going on at Renewal Fund to activate the life force? You have special human beings for the most part that are part of this group – I know a good amount of them. How’re you leveraging the social capitals to go beyond the financial capital?

Joel Solomon:

The disappointing answer to that is we’re just creating a model and a learning tool that people are going to get what they do from it. Our language is going to be a bit different, but not wildly different. You’re going to hear about companies where the bragging about them of course includes financial success but is about what they’re actually doing in the world and why they matter. We are giving now close to 300 investors a taste that proves that you could use money with consciousness, spirituality, care. We don’t hit anybody over the head with it. We don’t preach very hard there. The book is the preaching vehicle. My life work outside the fund is the preaching and the activism. But, the fund is to simply prove that there are parts of capitalism that could be more benign at worst and at best are seeding and progressing down a pathway that will lead the next generation to go much further.

It will become legitimized and normalized. As you know, and probably listeners on here know from those 12 years ago when we were trying to explain all of this to almost every single investor, this time when we raised money from longtime colleagues, we’d go and talk to them in wealth management firms. They’d say, we have 12 impact funds ahead of you in the queue. We won’t even get to you. We won’t get through the due diligence. We’re so sorry. So you, of course, feel some disappointment about that. But then you go, “this is success.” We didn’t do it, but we were part of it. I’m a Tennessean living in Canada. We invest on both sides of the border. We have investors from around the world, charitable foundations, all kinds of different kinds of entities.

But we’ve been the first in a lot of those where they experimented with it. So there’s a compounding effect and there’s a validation effect. There’s so much more interesting and exotic, usually small funds, that are working more specifically on justice issues or whatever it is. You can attack capitalism, that’s one approach. But if you can show positive uses of capitalism, I believe that’s very powerful. Not that many of us have been willing to, but those numbers are now growing because people are seeing the models.

Gino Borges:

Obviously it takes a fair amount of self care in order to navigate this path because it can be a little demoralizing and depressing. The story is easier to tell now than it was 12 years ago obviously. But if you read the news on a daily basis, there are still policies and business practices against the world. You guys are focused on climate change. I know it’s a big issue for you. How do you navigate this potential crisis with the existentialism of daily living? You get up, you make breakfast, go for a walk, and then how do you take in and migrate and navigate? You can take in a lot of data. You can take in a lot of secular information that’s often framed in a dramatic context. What do you do to stay centered and navigate and keep the ball rolling?

Joel Solomon:

This is where the whole person comes into play. You can make your own definition of what’s a whole person. But the psychological, emotional and spiritual realms; if you over neglect them, will take you down or mess you up. It’s practical business as well because you’ve got to deal with conflict, you’ve got to deal with disagreement. That’s conflict. You’ve got to deal with maybe terminating somebody or dealing with very tough issues and if you do not have the resilience of your inner skills to keep you on track and be a kind, fair, thoughtful person, you’re going to screw up anyway. However, you’re going to screw up a lot less and a lot worse. A lifelong practice of understanding the self and using what is now really a vast encyclopedia of available tools. Pick your chakra, pick your dimension that you want to work in, and anybody that’s involved in investing has some money and can afford a therapist, a meditation course, or whatever it is.
I’m an eclectic of these things. I liked the diversity and complexity; the things I’ve been involved in usually are like the greatest hits of the sixties seventies, eighties rather than “I’m a landmark person.” I couldn’t have gotten where I was if I had not settled the unhappiness in the unfulfilled and the spirit inside that was confused and neglected if I had not at least gone into that work and found stabilizing, balancing, aspirational and some belief systems. In business you can be a monster. It is very easy to be a monster. It’s very easy to be a huckster, a marauder a killer. Our portfolios are probably killing somebody right now. We’re probably poisoning other people’s babies.

I realize I’m slightly smiling at this and the smile is just the amusement at the human condition that we can segment, that we can go to church, we can go pray on the weekend, and then Monday morning go right back at it. There’s these contradictions. I don’t think they give us health. I don’t think they make us good parents or things like that. How do I know? There’s 7 billion people. There are probably a lot of them that can handle a lot of contradiction. But what I do know is we’re on a pathway that if we don’t go deeply into the meaning and purpose of life and the dynamics that create how things are, we are going to kill ourselves off. Science is not going to solve it alone. It takes a lot more than that. I want to be as constructive and positive, effective, meaningful a person. That’s heaven for me. I want to be a great person and do things that matter. And when I describe to people in a simple way, particularly outside the finance industry, well, how do you pick the companies and things? We want products that actually matter, led by people who truly care. It’s not complicated.

Gino Borges:

I just want to pause because there’s obviously a lot there and you bring up a lot around the idea of ecological thinking and feeling as a sentient being. This is for another conversation, but it’s interesting. I think the impact space could benefit by actually looking a lot at the linguistic nature of the categories and how they get reified just through the compulsion to categorize and control. Discipline actually may have only served us to the extent we understand it’s figurativeness, but we lose our purpose if we literalize it because we actually start clamping down on phenomena that’s alive, which is why I believe when I look at impact investing and catalyzing money, I question are we in service of life? To be in service of life, you have to honor the evolving phenomenology of life. And so how do you create an extension or a framework that honors the irascible nature of human life and natural life as opposed to trying to lock it down semiotically which is what often happens.

That’s when I go to sleep at these impact conferences because they’ve been appropriated by the disciplinary kings. I understand because they get pulled in thinking that’s the only way that they can scale. It’s not about adopting those tools of extraction or the industry language of extraction and superimposing them on your good intentions. You can also scale through narrative. I would rather have a great story than another darn category and another good metric because I think that to stay ahead in our evolution is to understand the role of narrative as not a subject-object split, which often gives the narrative these pejorative positions against statistics and mathematical metrics. Rather if people can look at the political realm and see that is ruling much more than facts, then they are missing the role of collective compulsion being tied to stories where the belief in stats are like carbohydrates.

It’s quick energy but it’s not long term. You’ve done a great job of presenting an alternative story, understanding our individual role within the collective story, and also your faith and belief on how other membership groups have supported your growth at the self-awareness level. It’s not just a Joel Solomon story; rather it’s a story about the Threshold people that you were with, the Social Venture Network people, the Renewal folks, and all the folks up in Vancouver, British Columbia, that are crystallizing around this.

Your sharing your story and really challenging us to say, look, we have a good story here. Let’s get this story out. Let’s be cautious of interests that are trying to protect their position and the extraction industry. I really feel a lot of gratitude to you doing this. You obviously don’t have to anymore. Why you’re doing it is still alive in you. That’s a great inspiration because it can be very easy for the why to slip away because of a lot of daily issues that come up that we have to face, but we have to approach it pragmatically and you’ve been very nice in explaining what your why is and with that I’m going to offer you an opportunity for your closing statement on just what’s naturally emerging for you.

Joel Solomon:

This is part of an emerging spiritual evolution. We’re reclaiming things that should be reclaimed and taking responsibility for them. We need to feminize, inclusivize and indigenize the global economy. It needs to be for the long term. It needs to include everyone and it needs to balance things. We are the ancestors of what’s coming and they are studying us this period, we who had everything. What did you do? I want to be part of those who tried and gave everything that I can to that long-term future. I don’t know any other reason to be alive.
That’s what’s underneath. That’s the drive that’s underneath this. There’s so many ways to have a good time on the practical plane. Let’s do things that matter. It doesn’t matter if anybody remembers us, but they will remember the seeds that brought forward enough enlightened human existence that there’s a beautiful world for those who come.

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