PATIENT CAPITAL

JOEL SOLOMON AND THE CLEAN MONEY REVOLUTION

by JOHN MUNROE

The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism
by Joel Solomon with Tyee Bridge
New Society Publishers, 250 pp, $29.99
ISBN 978-0-86571-839-5

Imagine you inherited both a fortune and a fatal disease that could rob you of the time to spend it. Most of us would throw up our hands and set off for Machu Picchu, skydiving lessons, or the local bar. But some people are not so predictable.

Affectionately known to some as a ‘Business Rabbi,’ author Joel Solomon is a patient capitalist: an ethical investor who has seeded over 100 early-stage businesses to deliver above-market returns while helping to bring about positive social and environmental change.

Burdened from birth with a terminal  kidney condition, Joel turned from his inherited family business to focus on politics in the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign, nature on idyllic Cortes Island in British Columbia, spirituality (something he tends to demonstrate rather than discuss) and finally back to entrepreneurship to develop a uniquely optimistic vision for the future: clean investment. Since the early 90s he has led a growing movement of ‘billionaires of love’: wealthy individuals who use their money to accumulate good deeds instead of wildly excessive fortunes.

The Clean Money Revolution follows Joel’s personal journey as a living metaphor for an alternative to the dystopian narratives so prevalent in our time. By leveraging the power of money for good instead of greed, he maintains, we can all benefit through enhanced quality of life and sustainable futures for ourselves and our children—all while generating solid financial returns on our principled investment portfolios.

 

…Since the early 90s he has led a growing movement of ‘billionaires of love’…

 

Part memoir, part impassioned plea for harnessing the world’s wealth for better outcomes for our planet, The Clean Money Revolution interposes Joel’s story of transformation with a counterpoint of pithy interviews and sidebar essays from diverse standard-bearers of the green investment movement. He walks the reader through his experience of successive levels of understanding, while unpacking a rich toolkit of fresh approaches to growing our money according to the principles of SRI: socially responsible investing.

One key component of the book details Joel’s pivotal decision to partner with Newell Rubbermaid heiress Carol Newell in 1992. Carol approached Joel to help identify high-impact green investments that would engender maximum social and environmental yields from her fortune by supporting innovators in sustainability. Together they created the Renewal Fund for this purpose, and as it grew they helped dozens of ethical ventures flourish and succeed. The book is peppered with their uplifting, informative accounts.

Ten years ago, a friend offered Joel a kidney, laying his premature death sentence to rest. That’s the kind of goodness this man inspires.

Many of us feel too busy to think about what our money is doing. How can we worry about the future when there is so much demanding our attention in the present? Along with inspiring anecdotes and thoughtful analysis, Joel Solomon and Tyee Bridge offer a new take on money:

“Accumulating infinite wealth, with no higher purpose, is naked greed at worst, self-imposed banality at best. We can now move money further and faster, toward a safe, resilient, soft landing for the future of civilization. Let’s be billionaires of good deeds, billionaires of love, billionaires of meaning and purpose.”

The Clean Money Revolution serves as an inspiring tale of transformation. Beyond that, it is also an excellent primer on how to put our money to work, for good.

 

John Munroe is a Tokyo-based Canadian entrepreneur, philanthropist and meditation teacher. jam@gaiaworks.com

 

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