I attended the first Commonbound conference in 2014, after attending MMMC for the first time and getting an introduction to how economic justice work is innately connected to racial justice. Coming to Commonbound this year, after a couple of years learning about the intersections of race and class, I was surprised and deeply grateful for the shifts that have happened over the past 5 or 10 years–in both my own understanding and what seems like the broader new economy field–to move beyond centering white rich folks investing in fancy organic food enterprises and instead moving into the heart of the transformative work that must be done to fix our economy–centering racial justice and indigenous sovereignty.
Reflections from CommonBound
I’m moved by the organizing that’s happened in the New Economy space, led by people of
I was grateful to attend the Reinvest in our Power peer network gathering. The Reinvest in Our Power Network
I was lucky to be a part of the panel on Democratizing Finance with Ed Whitfield, Brendan Martin, and Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan. You can watch it here, our panel starts at 6:46:57:
Resourcing community sovereignty
A highlight of the Reinvest gathering was that communities need funding to resource their economic development work. They need funding for infrastructure and building capacity, and
Where is this money going to come from? One answer is through impact investors, like the Regenerative Finance community. If impact investors stop extracting from the communities they believe they’re positively impacting, and instead return
A second answer, highlighted in the powerful workshop on the Ujima Fund in Boston, is investment can be democratized by adding “need” as a component when assessing who gets what level of return. So that poor, working class and middle class investors can receive higher returns, while rich investors can take higher risk and receive lower returns. The panel on their transformation work starts at around the 30 minute mark.
A third powerful answer is reparations. Individuals, corporations, and governments paying reparations.
I went to an incredible workshop on reparations led by Ed Whitfield and Aisha Shillingfordof Intelligent Mischief and Beautiful Solutions. After Ed briefly and forcefully made the case for reparations, Aisha offered a design methodology and we broke into 8 small groups by sector (land/housing, finance,
What are the ways the harms of slavery shaped this sector? How are the harms of slavery continuing today in this sector?
There are lots of photos of beautiful solutions for reparations that emerged, and here’s a snapshot of some of our finance post-its about how to work on the harm of predatory lending. I was particularly surprised and taken by the idea of creating a racial justice harm reduction assessment tool for financial institutions.
Check out Intelligent Mischief’s Instagram for more of the collaboratively generated ideas for reparations. #intelligentmischief #beautifulsolutions #commonbound
Thinking critically about wealth accumulation
In closing, I wanted to share one neat activity that was part of the Divestment Student Network’s session on the Reinvest Network. We took an assumption that we come up against in our reinvestment work and flip it around. I ended up choosing “it’s normal to accumulate wealth,” and flipped it to “it’s violent and extractive to accumulate wealth.”
As we work to shift the narratives in the mainstream economy, and question it’s assumptions, it’s crucial for the new economy field to focus on the leadership of communities of color who are powerfully fighting for justice. I’m grateful I was able to attend Commonbound, and that the conference organizers centered racial justice and indigenous sovereignty. Until next time!