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Author Archive: "Woody Tasch"

Keynes + Joyce

When John Maynard Keynes wrote, "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking," and James Joyce wrote, deep in the innards of Ulysses, "that the language question should take precedence of the economic question," they put their fingers on one of the great wounds of the modern era: We need to discover ways of thinking and speaking that can put economics in its place. In our devotion to money, market, and machine, we are destroying not only the fertility of the soil, but the fertility of our imaginations. What is, in the farmer's field, a struggle between economics and ecology becomes, in the investor's mind, a struggle between quantity and quality, portfolios and possibilities, numbers and words.

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After the Age of Economics must come the Age of Poetry.

There would be two post-economic poetries.

The first would be a poetry of common sense and humor. The second would be a poetry of imagination and humus.

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Slow Money Musings on This First Day of 2009

Let us imagine an earthworm protesting before the advancing blade of the plow.

Let us imagine a farmer conscientiously objecting before the commodifying prow of the market.

Let us imagine a poet slamming before the ferociously fiduciary lowest-common-denominatorness of the Dow.

Let us imagine a consumer putting down the purse.

Let us imagine a thrower-outer choosing better over worse.

Let us imagine Carlo in the Piemonte sipping Nebbiolo.

Let us imagine Fritz breaking bread with Wendell.

Let us imagine money swimming up the Mattole to spawn.

Let us imagine a sycophant with no one over whom to fawn.

Let us imagine a broker who has given up his pawn.

Let us imagine an Obama tending vegetables on the White House lawn.

Let us imagine an Osama genuflecting towards the dawn of non-violence.

Let us imagine that Wall Street is Plato's cave.

Let us imagine that the wave of toxics is receding.

Let us imagine that the global fever is breaking.

Let us imagine a beautiful future of our making.

Let us imagine preservation and restoration over consumption and extraction.

Let us imagine percolation over circulation.

Let us imagine relationship over transaction.

Let us imagine diversity over monoculture.

Let us imagine fertility over profitability.

Let us imagine making ...

Bad News, Good News, More Bad News

The story goes that a woman was waiting outside the operating room, and after many hours, the surgeon comes out, approaches her, wipes his brow, and says, "Mrs. Johnson, I've got bad news, good news, and bad news for you."

"Oh my god," she responds. "What's the first bad news?"

"The first bad news is that your husband's brain tumor is, as we had feared, inoperable."

Mrs. Johnson breaks down, weeping, and then, after she composes herself, asks, "Wait. You said you had good news. What could possibly be the good news?"

"The good news is that just this past week — I know, it's amazing — but just this past week we perfected, in this medical center, the world's first brain transplant procedure. And not only, that, we've got three donors available."

"Oh my god," she responds. "That IS amazing. It's a miracle! But wait, you also said you had more bad news..."

"Well, the second bad news is that the donor brains are not covered by insurance, and they are very expensive."

"How expensive?" she asks.

"The first brain is the brain of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. It costs $1 million."

"$1 million?" ...

Shelf Life

Hello from the front lines of Slow Money.

The publication of my book coincides with the launching of a new NGO, and rather than quote from the book (at least, today), I thought I would share comments I wrote this morning for David Orr's article, "Shelf-Life," upcoming in the journal Conservation Biology.

Can't resist some kind of prefatory remark here, though, so I'll opine: the financial meltdown of the past year or so is only a partial punctuation mark in a kind of fiduciary speaking-in-tongues that has been erupting for a few decades now .

Anyhow, more to come over the rest of the week.

I look forward to this opportunity to share with you a few real-time peeks under the hood of this new way of thinking about money, and the work that hundreds of us — food CEOs, farmers, social entrepreneurs, investors, donors, a poet or two, and a philosopher or two (past and present) — are doing at the nexus of social investing, sustainable agriculture, and local economies.

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COMMENTS on "Shelf-Life" by David Orr

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