Permaculture Credit Union (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at
Mon Jan 5 00:03:16 EST 1998

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 4 Jan 1998 09:10:19 -0800 (PST)
From: swrpi at
Reply-To: permaculture at
To: permaculture at
Subject: Permaculture Credit Union

Please pass this information on!

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P e  r  m  a  c  u  l  t  u  r  e    I  n  s  t  i  t  u  t  e    
Permaculture Credit Union Organizing Committee
PO Box 1812 ? Santa Fe, NM 87504 

Dear Friend of Permaculture:
I am writing you on behalf of the Permaculture Credit Union Organizing Committee to tell you about one of the many exciting events taking place this year in permaculture - the formation of a Permaculture Credit Union.  I have been teaching permaculture for ten years now, and have used the example of the Maleny Credit Union in Australia to illustrate a sustainable financial institution. I have also pointed to the Grameen bank in Bangladesh as representative of socially responsible lending.  But it has taken me all this time to realize that, if we are to truly change the world, we have to take control of our own money just as they have done in the small town of Maleny. "Putting our money where our mouth is", in this case, means we are no longer willing to participate in non-ethical use of our financial resources.  That is why those of us in the organizing committee decided to undertake the task of forming a credit union based on permaculture ethics.  This will be a credit union that is licensed by the government, and insured up to $100,000 per account.

By creating our own credit union, we will be able to reward sustainable behavior by offering better interest rates for loans for building energy efficient houses, or supportive loan programs for those who lack credit ratings.  Our own credit union will provide all the ordinary services at fair rates and fees, while lending or investing in activities that are compatible with our own ethics.  We thereby are creating an alternative to conventional banks' high rates and fees, and to lending and investing practices which disregard the environmental and social consequences in favor of satisfying shareholders or investors.

We need your help to create the Permaculture Credit Union.  Part of the chartering process requires that we prove to the regulators that there is sufficient interest and support for the Permaculture Credit Union to make it economically viable.  Please fill out the accompanying questionnaire and return it to us promptly.  We also need you to get the word out. If know others who might be interested, we encourage you to copy and pass on this information. Completing this form does not represent any financial commitment.

The Organizing Committee is a volunteer group but, unfortunately, the printing and mailing cost of this effort is not volunteered so your contribution of $5.00 or more will be a great help in this effort.  Please make checks out to the Permaculture Institute U.S.A./PCUOC.  Donations are tax deductible. 

We look forward to having you join us in this exciting endeavor.

For a better world, 

Scott Pittman, Chairperson,
Permaculture Credit Union Organizing Committee
email<swrpi at>	


What  Our  Own  Credit  Union  Can  Do  For  Us

?	Provide us with a place to collectively save, borrow, and receive financial services
?	Provide us with information about using our money wisely to support, not take from, natural and    human resources.
?	Provide us with a means to direct our surplus financial power to promote sustainable and  responsible individual and commercial activities.
?	Provide us with democratic control over our financial resources.

Consumer Federation of America1 compared  
banks and credit unions and found  
the following credit union advantages:

?	Higher Interest Rates on Savings Accounts. Credit unions pay almost a full percentage point higher than banks on money market accounts and interest-bearing checking; on CDs, the difference averages 2/3 of a percentage point.
 ?	Significantly Lower Consumer Loan Rates.  Credit union rates are 1.5% to 5% lower than bank rates.
?	Lower credit card interest rates.  Credit unions, on average, charge 13%
compared to the 18% banks average. Most credit union cards have no annual fee. The study also found that credit card users could save about $8 billion annually by shifting their credit cards from banks to credit unions.
?	Much lower rates on new car and home equity loans. For example, new car loan rates at credit unions averaged 7.7% in April 1996.
?	Checking account fees. Only a minority of credit unions, but a large majority of banks, charge fees. 
?	Account minimum charges.  Less than half of the credit unions-but all banks,
charge monthly fees when minimums are not met. When credit unions do charge fees, they average almost half of what banks charge.
1 Sources: Joint Press Release, "Banks Charge More and Higher Fees than Credit Unions", Feb. 21, 1996, Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA); Joint Press Release, "Consumers Overpay on Loans and Underearn on Savings, Losing Tens of Billions of Dollars Annually", June 5, 1996, CFA & CUNA; Press Release, "Save Hundreds, Join a Credit Union, if Bankers Will Let You...", Dec. 2, 1996, CUNA.

T A K I N G   C O N T RO L

>From Bill Mollison

An important step toward attaining sustainable livelihoods and a better world is creating our own credit union. Our own credit union will aggregate our financial resources, provide us with loans and economical financial services. It will also free us from participating in the human and environmental destruction funded by banks seeking increasing profits any way they can. The Permaculture Credit Union is taking form through the efforts of an organizing committee chaired by Scott Pittman. It is now the time to show the credit union regulators that the permaculture community wants and will use its own credit union. If you want to participate, please show your support now by filling out the accompanying pledge form.

A credit union is a cooperative financial enterprise organized by a group of people who wish to pool their financial resources to promote their common mission and to benefit their common financial interests. Modern credit unions provide members with a full range of financial services including savings and checking accounts, certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts, credit cards, vehicle loans, real estate and commercial loans, insurance, and other financial services. A credit union is a non-profit entity that is owned and controlled by its members. Income above that allocated for operating
expenses (the "profit") is paid to members through dividends. Members participate in governing the credit union by electing the board of directors from the membership on the basis of one member, one vote. This board represents all members of the group when making decisions regarding its assets.

On the other hand, conventional banks and other commercial financial institutions are owned by investors who seek profits. Their primary loyalty is to those who will offer the greatest profit rather than to the well being of their customers or their community. For commercial banks, current record profits become the next standard of performance in a never-ending upward spiral of dividend production to keep their heaviest investors from seeking greater returns elsewhere.

Organized under credit union laws, the Permaculture Credit Union will be insured for amounts up to $100,000, and will eventually provide the same range of services to its members as those offered by a typical bank. During the formative stage, it may operate in cooperation with one or more other credit unions for computer processing of transactions and other record keeping. The Permaculture Credit Union plans to provide financial counseling to individuals and small business borrowers.

Our mission is to pool the financial resources of the people who believe in the ethics of permaculture - "care of the earth, care of people, and investment of surplus time, money and materials toward care of the earth and its people." The Permaculture Credit Union will provide a meaningful alternative to traditional banks that are unconscious or uncaring about the consequences of their investment activities on the earth and its  inhabitants. Beyond providing financial services for fair rates and fees, this cooperative venture will give members the satisfaction of knowing that their money is being used by others with whom they share a common bond, and in financial opportunities that are consistent with the ethics of permaculture.

Interest in a permaculture credit union has been steadily growing among design course participants and others in our community who have inspired us with their enthusiasm. Based on this support, we began the formal process of organization. Our organizing committee is already meeting with credit union personnel to complete the application and licensing requirements. We expect to hold a charter-organization meeting in late 1997. We will announce the date of the meeting on the Internet and also in the journals and newsletters that serve the permaculture community. The meeting will be open to everyone dedicated to the ethics of permaculture and interested in creating and using our credit union. We hope to open for business by  early 1998.

The regulators want to know if there is enough interest and support to make a credit union viable. We need to hear from you. Please fill out  the form on the reverse side. Tell us what level of financial participation you can see for yourself. A full-service credit union offers everything your present bank does only for less and more ethically. Filling out this form does not constitute a commitment on your part - it represents your vote of confidence, and it's what we need right now to make the credit union happen. The forms we receive will be used only for proof that the permaculture community wants and will use its own financial institution. The Permaculture Credit Union will give us the power of cooperative financial action and will make it easier to attain sustainable lifelihoods. Thanks for your support.


Please Cast Your Vote to Establish a Permaculture Credit Union

We are in the process of organizing the first permaculture credit union in the United States.  The purpose is to help each other by promoting thrift, providing economical credit and financial services, and education.  The membership to be served includes all persons and businesses dedicated to the ethics of permaculture.

Credit union officials need to know if a sufficient number of people committed to permaculture ethics will support and use the Permaculture Credit Union.  Your "vote of confidence" is needed now.  Further  questions can be directed to organizing committee members listed below.  We greatly appreciate your interest.  We need this information to prepare a business plan, and ask that you fill out the enclosed form and send it back immediately.

Scott Pittman, organizing committee Chairperson,can be reached at
swrpi at  
Manuel Abascal, Assistant Chairperson, can be reached at
mgabascal at


Permaculture embraces a threefold ethic: care of the earth, care of people, and investment of surplus time, money and materials toward care of the earth and its people.

Within permaculture, money is to the social fabric as water is to the landscape.  It is the agent of transport, the shaper and mover of trade.  Like water, it is not the total amount of money entering a community that counts; it is the number of uses or duties to which we can divert money, and the number of cycles of use, that measures the availability of that money. Leakage from the community must therefore be prevented and recycling made the rule.

Where we choose to borrow and conduct our financial activity has significant political, economic and ecological consequences.  The Permaculture Credit Union exists to promote thrift, and provide education, credit, and other financial services to members to achieve the objectives of permaculture.  The Permaculture Credit Union is a nonprofit, cooperative credit union providing financial services and socially responsible investments.  Membership is open to all individuals and businesses dedicated to the ethics of permaculture, without regard to a member's sex, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or financial condition.

The Permaculture Credit Union gives members more than an ethical charter and ethical use of assets-the credit union belongs to and is governed by its members.  There are no nonmember investors or borrowers.  A Board of Directors is elected from the membership-one person, one vote.

The National Credit Union Administration, a United States government agency, insures deposits of chartered credit unions to $100,000.

Yes! I will Support the Permaculture Credit Union
I would like to use the following financial services at our credit union

(   )  Checking account				(   )  Commercial Loan
(   )  Certificate of Deposit			(   )  Debit Card Account
(   )  Credit Card Account			(   )  Auto Loan
(   )  Savings Account				(   )  Insurance
(   ) Individual Retirement Account		(   )   Other

I would open account(s) with deposits of about:
___ $100        ___ $500         ___ $1000       _____$10,000        ____ other ______

(   )   Please put my name on the mailing list to receive further information. This list will not be used for any other purpose.
(   ) 

Name ______________________________________________________________

Address ____________________________________________________________

Suggestion or comments: ________________________________________________

Mail completed form to:
Permaculture Credit Union Organizing Committee
PO Box 1812, Santa Fe, NM 87504

I understand this form is not financial obligation, and will only be used in a presentation to credit union regulators to establish community support for organizing the Permaculture Credit Union.
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<swrpi at>
Permaculture Institute
Scott & Arina Pittman 
PO Box 3702
Pojoaque, NM 87501

Ingenio Patet Campus

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