Women Financing the Future
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” ―Arundhati Roy
Talking about sex, abuse, anything sometimes is easier than talking about money. We have, personal, ancient and familiar money wounds. We pretend that we can think and spreadsheet our way forward and unfortunately money is often tied to big bodies of pain. When we stop running and dive deeply into the shame, guilt and fear wrapped around money, healing happens. With eyes wide open, as whole people, conscious about the power of money we can decouple jobs from carbon, we can empower entrepreneurs to solve problems and gift the world with the generative power of women.
What if our “stuff” about money is driving climate change? What if our fear of money feeds “sweat shops” and global chaos in the shadows? Picture our collective money as zombies, disembodied, fast, in the cover of darkness, wreaking havoc on the world. When we face, share and heal money the power to literally change the world is unleashed.
I am on a personal journey to be a healed healer of money. I love the intimacy of working in the intersection of people’s stories and their money. This is the hardest and maybe the most powerful work I have ever done. When we make anything love, when we make finance and our relationships to money about love, we invite in grace, wit and the forces of nature into our personal and collective story. This is my story of money and healing.
I grew up in a “Keep your head down, work and earn and shut up, you are lucky to be alive” story. I needed to learn “NO” early and often and said it to police, oil companies, chemical plants, Apartheid and to nuclear everything. At 22 years old I was Greenpeace girl and felt almost reborn in the power of social movements and the force of “NO”. But over time I grew tired of one note, one “No” and grew sad and my soul craved the creative juice of “YES”.
“YES” was harder, slower, much more complex to say from the soul. I studied systems, the rules, the games, and the role that “we the people” played in ducking out because money was dirty. I worked on economics through think tanks; papers, lobbied and shared backroom meetings with some of the most powerful people, mostly men. I learned to harness my own influence and to share power with diverse people, breaking down how subsidies work, how taxes shape economies, how money moves and power pools. I did workshops in town halls and living room teach-ins. I shaped policy, I helped birth and make space in people’s hearts for the first carbon tax in North America.
As the years past now in my 40’s the NGO world that was home felt crippled by too little money and limited power. I co-found my first real company, First Power, with my partner Joe Thwaites. We built a beautiful boutique business that crafted clean energy with Indigenous tribes. First Power was love wrapped in a business plan. It broke my heart to realize that it was small, hard to scale, and I wanted more, deeper, more “systems” and wider impact. Mid-life was ringing in every part of my being.
Something “Unreasonable” was stirred by my election to the Unreasonable Institute, not ironically. In that beautiful petri dish in Boulder, Colorado, I grew fast. For six weeks I lived in a frat house with 25 disruptive social entrepreneurs from 17 countries. Coached by some of the best media, marketing and finance innovators globally; I saw the world reinventing itself in that house. I got bigger, brasher, more fed by “one-love” for the world and I found my next calling, FINANCE.
Business and economics are powerful forces in the world, but even they both bow to finance. Finance is shockingly powerful, the fastest moving global force that can either harm or be harnessed to heal the world. If we are going to stop climate change, end extreme poverty, create more meaningful work, honor Indigenous wisdom and create ways for women’s leadership to emerge; we need to make finance serve life, culture and dignity. We need to drag everything we are, everything we love into the realm of finance. We need to be badass visionaries and finance the future.
As I face my pain about money, I create space for others. As I heal and share my journey, I have the incredible honor to witness people unhinging themselves from their own brutal stories and blockages that separate us from power. The world needs a new story of finance. We are the authors of that new story; the world is starved for our words and deeds. We, the biggest “we” in human history, can and must redirect the power of the market economy to solve the biggest cluster bust in human history.
Three years ago, I joined a handful of amazing people I met through Unreasonable and together became the backbone of my new dream team. We are Occupy meets Wall Street. We build metrics, stories, services, products and programs to transform finance and catalyze billions to serve a clean economy (clean energy, clean supply chains, clean all around). We serve individuals (no minimums) and institutions (foundations, companies retirement plans, Tribes, and more). We move money from risky and harmful investment to healing enterprises and opportunities for 100% of humanity. We are feminine consciousness, market performance, fueling companies with better and integrated bottom-lines.
Money is a wound for so many in every strata of the economy. I have shared pain stories with Native elders who knew so much wealth in culture and poverty in dollars; with some of the decedents of the richest families in the US and globally who struggle to assert power in their own families and lead in the world; with entrepreneurs who ‘made it’ and want to give back. The 1% and the 99% have pain in common and unlimited power to shape the future if we align. The era of ethical finance has arrived, we can unplug from risky and calamity causing companies and industries, while protecting our assets and future generations through investing in the world we want.
When women claim academia, the curriculum shifts. When we claim politics and policy, carbon taxes, community energy and food systems transform. When we know what Wall Street knows and bring to it the unfinished promise of “Occupy”, healing can happen.
“We are the ones” to move money from harm to healing. We can create what my very Unreasonable sister, Hunter Lovins calls “an economy in service to life”. When we heal ourselves as women, we give ourselves the power to claim finance and line it up with love.