Banking on values.

I’m at YVR, waiting for a flight to Copenhagen. I’m going to a meeting of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, a group of 24 banks, credit unions, microfinance organizations and other financial institutions dedicated to a sustainable banking model. These organizations have a “shared commitment to find global solutions to international problems – and to promote a positive, viable alternative to the current financial system.”
Global Alliance for Banking on Values

We’re meeting in Copenhagen, hosted by Merkur Cooperative Bank, to discuss how to better convey to consumers what a values-based banking model and approach is all about. How do we get people to include thinking about what their money is invested in while it’s parked at the bank as one of their decision factors when choosing a financial institution – in addition to rates, location, brand, etc…

It’ll be an intense few days of meetings and visiting Merkur’s clients who are working to create a more sustainable, equitable society. I’m excited and a little nervous about it. I am looking forward to meeting new colleagues from around the world who share a vision of addressing society’s problems through the tools of banking. And, of course, I’m honoured to be representing Vancity, as always.

I’ll blog while there if I have anything interesting to say, and I’ll also be taking photos on Instagram.

Go up on the roof with Carol.

I have written before about the immensely inspiring Carol Schillios. Right now, she is living on a roof for as long as it takes to raise $1 million to support women and their families in developing countries.

What does she want? Simply put, she wants you to give at least one dollar to the Fabric of Life Foundation, and accompany your donation with some small act of kindness.

Video Short~UP ON THE ROOF with Carol Schillios from Jeff Schumacher on Vimeo.

So for the love of Pete, let’s get Carol off the roof!

An afternoon with Majora Carter.

It is days like this when I have to pinch myself for working at such an amazing organization.

Today Vancity helped bring Majora Carter to Vancouver to speak to a group called The Strathcona Business Improvement Association. They are a group dedicated to improving an area of Vancouver that could use some extra care to bounce back, and these business owners are playing an “important role in the business development, safety, security and street enhancement in Strathcona.” Part of their focus is to create a green business focus, making the neighbourhood an epicentre of sustainability in Vancouver.

Majora Carter gave a talk about how she helped bring back an area of the South Bronx through environmental renewal. Her TED talk is an inspiring story of economic injustice and an environmental response to it. Well worth watching.

ChangeCamp coming to Vancouver?

ChangeCampLast year I was one of the co-organizers of BarCampBankBC, an un-conference devoted to innovation in the financial services industry. BarCampBank has occurred several times around the world, and, as one of the attendees Morriss Partee recently blogged, each one takes on a local element. Morriss said that BarCampBankBC specifically “had a worthy-cause and social media flavor”.

After BarCampBankBC was over, Jeremy Osborn, a friend and sometimes commenter on this blog, mentioned to me that he would like to see the same un-conference, collaborative style applied to topics of sustainability and social change. Sounded like a very good and extremely worthwhile endevour.

I am lucky to work at a financial institution focused on these issues. Not many FIs aim at this space, but it exactly the intersection of where the money is and the changes we need to make in our society that makes Vancity such an amazing anomaly.

In a questionnaire, I recently (and somewhat inarticulately) told one of my favourite conferences, Net.Finance, in answer to their question “In a volatile economy like we have today, what does it really mean to be innovative?”:

As FIs in today’s economy the greatest innovations we can achieve are those that bring us closer to our customers. Anything that helps us better understand their needs and help them understand and manage their finances so as many people as possible can get through this period with their assets intact. Those are the innovations our customers will remember us for, how we treated them when everything was down. That’s how we build loyalty for the long term.

Recently, I found out that a BarCamp devoted to social change may, in fact, be happening.

In Toronto, people are planning something called ChangeCamp. This is how the organizers describe it:

ChangeCamp is a free participatory web-enabled face-to-face event that brings together citizens, technologists, designers, academics, policy wonks, political players, change-makers and government employees to answer one question:
How do we re-imagine government and citizenship in the age of participation?

Very intriguing. If you live in Toronto, check it out.

And now I learn that there is a spinoff group of ChangeCamp starting right here in Vancouver, calling their event VanChangeCamp. I’m paying close attention. Looks like it is currently being aimed to happen on March 28th, 2009.

I’ll post more as I learn more, but it should be an event worth watching…