Wesley Roe and Marjorie Lakin Erickson lakinroe at silcom.com
Wed Jan 22 13:29:50 EST 2003



“Community Investing” in Environment Appeals to Individuals, Institutions;
Dollars Used to Preserve Forests, Clean Water, Farm Responsibly and Recycle.

WASHINGTON, D.C.///January 22, 2003///”Green banking” - in which community 
investing dollars from banks, credit unions, venture capital firms, 
foundations and other organizations are directed to support environmentally 
beneficial businesses and nonprofits that might otherwise be overlooked by 
“traditional” financial institutions - is making major strides today across 
the United States.  Today, the Community Investing Campaign, a project of 
the Social Investment Forum Foundation and Co-op America, singled out 10 
organizations that “best exemplify the building of economic opportunity and 
hope for individuals through community investing.”

Forest preservation, clean water production, eco-tourism, responsible 
farming practices and the recycling of discarded materials are just a few 
of the Earth friendly activities that are being supported through 
“community investing” dollars.  Individual and institutional community 
investors make it possible for local organizations in urban and rural areas 
to create jobs, provide financial services to low-income individuals, and 
supply capital for small businesses, affordable housing and vital community 

The organizations recognized today by the Community Investing Campaign are: 
Chittenden Bank (Brattleboro, VT); Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (Wiscasset, 
ME); Permaculture Credit Union (Santa Fe, N.M.); Rudolf Steiner Foundation 
(San Francisco, CA); Self-Help Credit Union (Durham, N.C.); ShoreBank 
Pacific (Ilwaco, WA); Sustainable Jobs Fund (Durham, N.C.); Underdog 
Ventures, LLC (New York, NY); Vermont Community Loan Fund (Montpelier, VT); 
and Wainwright Bank & Trust Company (Boston, MA).

The Social Investment Forum’s Community Investing Campaign Chair Deborah 
Momsen-Hudson said:  “We are honoring these 10 groups today because they 
are outstanding examples of how community investing dollars quite literally 
can transform the world in which we live. Americans who want to make a 
change in the lives of others need to understand that community investing 
is a powerful and personal way to get the job done.   The organizations 
singled out for praise today are among hundreds in the U.S. that are 
building a better planet through the wise stewardship of community 
investing dollars.”

Social Investment Forum Foundation President David Berge said:  “This is 
socially responsible investing at its best, for people who want to improve 
our environment and communities.  The environment is part of the community 
investing story, but there is much more to it. Community-based financial 
institutions work with low-income individuals earning the minimum wage in 
North Carolina to purchase homes, assist impoverished battered women in 
Texas in opening a community-based shelter, and provide displaced timber 
workers in the Pacific Northwest with loans to start successful and 
environment-friendly businesses. In addition to supplying urgently needed 
capital in under-served neighborhoods, community investment groups make 
available key services, such as education, mentoring and technical support.”


For socially aware individuals and institutions, the powerful attraction of 
community investing is the opportunity to connect with the lives of people 
and make a concrete difference in them.   Consider these examples:

* Chittenden Bank’s Socially Responsible Banking Program, of Brattleboro, 
VT., allows depositors to benefit conservation, affordable housing, 
business and economic development, community building and 
education.  Chittenden lendee Beeken Parsons of Shelburne, VT, designs and 
creates handcrafted furniture with wood harvested from sustainable 
forestry.  Bruce Beeken and Jeff Parsons use a specific type of wood called 
“character wood,” which is found at the center or heart of the log.  This 
uses the wood of a tree more efficiently  typically sawyers work a log from 
the outside in until they reach the knotty heart, a practice that also 
produces the most waste.  “Character wood™” provides evidence of the random 
workings of nature and highlights the unique qualities of each individual 
piece of wood.

* Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) of Wiscasset, ME, is a nonprofit 
community development corporation and community development financial 
institution.  Candice and Dan Heydon of Oyster Creek Farm & Mushroom 
Company in Damariscotta, ME first came to CEI in 1993 for start-up 
financing for their gourmet mushroom business. In total, they have received 
five loans from CEI using a variety of lending programs, in addition to 
several courses and seminars and CEI’s our one-on-one business counseling 
services. The Heydons grow thousands of mushrooms on logs in sheds and 
lean-tos on their property and also buy wild mushrooms from foragers 
throughout Maine.  Among the environmental aspects of the business are its 
reliance on the sustainable harvest of a renewable, non-timber forest 
product and its virtual elimination of any waste products  what does not 
sell fresh is sold dried and what does not sell dried is ground and sold as 

* Durham, NC-based Self-Help is a nonprofit credit union and community 
development lender that provides home mortgage and small business lending 
services.  Lea Clayton borrowed from Self-Help to purchase 15 acres near 
the Haw River in rural Alamance County, N.C.  Clayton is developing an 
organic farm on the site, using a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) 
business model that increases the financial returns to small farmers by 
eliminating distribution steps that add cost to the product. With the CSA 
model, consumers purchase “shares” of the farmer’s yield at the beginning 
of the season, and produce is delivered directly to shareholders.  (Several 
Self-Help staff participate as shareholders).  Clayton will use her 
experience in sustainable farming to use technologies such as solar power 
and gravity irrigation to reduce overhead costs.

* ShoreBank Pacific, of Portland, OR, and Ilwaco, WA, was the first 
environmental bank in the United States.  ShoreBank Pacific supports 
individual and community efforts to bring together conservation and 
economic development. ShoreBank Pacific has provided support to Ned 
Dempsey, president of Century West of Portland, OR.  The firm is developing 
a new specialty: sustainable engineering. Among this new division’s current 
projects are: a fish-friendly hydropower project; an innovative 
agricultural fish screen technology to keep fish out of irrigation ditches; 
and a product that has the potential to save significant amounts of 
industrial electricity used to compress air.

Century West President Ned Dempsey  said:  “Before I came to ShoreBank 
Pacific, I had been bounced around by larger banks who did not seem to care 
about my business and what I was trying to accomplish. Working in 
sustainable development, I needed to find a banking solution that 
understood my goals and my business.  ShoreBank Pacific recognized that and 
worked with me to develop a plan to help my company and, more importantly, 
the planet.”

* Underdog Ventures, LLC, of New York, NY, is a community venture fund that 
made an investment to help Happy Planet Foods of Vancouver, BC grow their 
organic juice business and their positive impact on the environment. The 
Underdog Ventures Legacy Fund invested $250,000 in Happy Planet.  As a part 
of that investment, Happy Planet employees and shareholders have agreed to 
donate $500,000 in cash and stock to the Underdog Foundation to support 
grants to environmental organizations. The Underdog Foundation has 
committed a low cost loan to benefit a farmers cooperative producing fair 
trade organic fruit in Costa Rica, which Happy Planet has committed to buy.

* Wainwright Bank of Boston was founded in 1987 as a socially responsible 
commercial bank.  Wainwright Bank provided to the Silent Spring Institute a 
line of credit that will be used to assist in their breast cancer research. 
Silent Spring is a nonprofit research institute in Newton, MA that is 
dedicated to identifying the links between environmental exposure and 
women’s health.

(See the fact sheet at http://ww.communityinvest.org containing information 
on each of the 10 organizations.)


Any individual or institution can become a community investor.  Community 
investing dollars often come in the form of savings accounts, checking 
accounts, mutual funds and even direct “high impact” investments.

Many community investors use community development banks and credit unions 
for their basic banking needs. These institutions are committed to 
strengthening low-income communities across the country. Everything from 
checking and savings accounts, to CD's and IRAs, to mortgages and other 
loans, can be provided through a community bank or credit union.  If there 
is no such organization in your community, you can use ATMs, the mail and 
online banking options.

Other individuals become community investors by focusing on mutual funds 
with a community-investing component.   Still another approach is to invest 
directly in what are often called “high impact” investments that go 
directly into community investment programs.

For a comprehensive list of community investing alternatives, go to 


A 2001 study from the Social Investment Forum shows that “community 
investing” is now the fastest-growing category of socially responsible 
investing in the United States:  Individual and institutional assets 
flowing into community investing organizations grew by a substantial 41 
percent between 1999 and 2001, increasing from $5.4 billion to $7.6 
billion.  According to the Social Investment Forum, the overall growth rate 
for community investing now exceeds that of socially responsible mutual 
funds, all types of screened portfolios (including separate accounts for 
institutions and wealthy individuals) and socially concerned shareholder 


The Community Investing Campaign is a joint partnership of the Social 
Investment Forum Foundation and Co-op America. The Social Investment Forum 
Foundation is a national nonprofit organization providing research and 
educational programs on socially responsible investing.  Co-op America is a 
national nonprofit organization founded in 1982 that provides the economic 
strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and 
individuals to address today's social and environmental problems.    The 
campaign’s Web site is www.communityinvest.org.

CONTACT:  Stephanie Kendall, 703/276-3254 (direct) or 
skendall at hastingsgroup.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: To hear a Web-based recording of the national news 
event, go to http://www.communityinvest.org/GreenBanking.html after 6 p.m. 
EST on January 22, 2003.


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