My View from the First Circle

Community Building, Green Collar Economy, Infrastructure, Local Economy, Systems Thinking

Vermont’s Public Banking Bill

Vermont’s Public Banking Bill

Four dynamic organizations in Vermont have formed a coalition to investigate “the costs and benefits of consolidating into a single entity multiple state government operations relating to finance and lending, grant-making, investing, and banking.” Global Community InitiativesDonella Meadows InstituteGund Institute for Ecological Economics, and GNHUSA introduced Senate Bill 55 on January 25, 2013. “The bill defines who will serve on the task force and allocates $25,000 for the work.  The task force will determine if reorganizing financial operations would provide benefits in terms of efficiency and increased economic activity.”

On December 7th these organizations held a conference on the New Vermont Economy in Montpelier attended by members of every sector. The conference was organized using the Open Meeting structure, which is to say, attendees volunteered to lead meetings on topics relating to the overall topic of public banking.

To support the coalition please write a letter to the Vermont Legislature. A directory of legislators can be found by clicking here.

To sign up to become a member of the coalition Click here.

Community Building, Energy, First Circle Coaching, Green Collar Economy, Infrastructure, Inner Ecosystem, Insights, Local Economy, Systems Thinking

Trust as a Leverage Mechanism

When looking to create a thriving system it is important to consider the leverage points. For instance, in our work with Berlin BetterBuildings we discovered that one of the most important leverage points is in one’s ability to be trusted. When we first came to town many looked at us skeptically. Through our partnership with the Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire energy efficiency program, ably coordinated by Joseph Lajewski, we were able to help fund the energy audits required to create a scope of work. People were able to see exactly what work needed to be done, approximately what that work would cost and what the estimated payback period would be based on the savings. However, much of the time, the cost of implementing the work, usually a large capital injection, was beyond the reach of our clients. RMANH had a generous incentive for implementing the work, but we at first did not. It was only after we developed our incentives that our commercial clients became truly committed.

There were many times over the year and a half between when I first began promoting this program and when we offered the incentives. Each time a new deadline needed to be met, the clients took a leap of faith and submitted the required paperwork, never really thinking they would be going through with a project. You can imagine how good it felt to see their faith rewarded with valuable incentives.

There were many tough conversations, but we at Berlin BetterBuildings never promised something we couldn’t deliver. We were responsive, respectful and confident that our clients would benefit from the program once they were able to participate. Earning their trust directly affected the success of this program, and will contribute to the economic development of this North Country mill town. It is an honor to work to support a community like Berlin NH.