How We’ll Fund Innovation and Sustainability

by Joe Brewer

It’s time to solve a fundamental problem that plagues progressives everywhere – the lack of seed money to get innovative projects off the ground and the absence of workable funding models to scale up the ongoing efforts to create systemic cultural, economic and political change.

Every major economic paradigm shift throughout modern history has been propelled forward by the influx of financial capital to build institutions that support the new framework. In the 1850s and ’60s it was investment in cheap steel to lay down railways. A century later there were massive capital projects to build the interstate highway system and the explosion of suburban landscapes that accompanied it.

Now we face a deeper challenge. Not only must we cultivate technological breakthroughs that drive us toward sustainability – a huge challenge in its own right – but we must also create a different paradigm for finance that liberates us from the consumer culture threatening the ecosystems of the world.

In other words, we need new models for funding social change that lead us toward a more livable world.

… Now is the time to lay the institutional foundations that we’ll build upon after we cross the tipping point. We can’t wait any longer.

Out with the old, in with the new

The funding models of the last century are no longer serving us. Our non-profits struggle to stay afloat. Our governments have been stripped of the wealth created through investments in societal infrastructure (like roads, schools and courts), and now face major budget shortfalls. Wealth has been aggregated into the hands of a small “super elite” reminiscent of the Gilded Age of a previous era.

And now, as our need is at its greatest, we lack the seed money to invest in social innovations that can free us from further entrenchment in a broken status quo.

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