A Year in Review

By Peter Brill   |   February 6, 2020

I started this column wanting to highlight how people can have an impact or create positive change, find personal meaning, and sometimes even make money doing it. I hoped to spotlight new and existing opportunities to benefit our community – what’s out there and what can be done to achieve these goals, who is doing it and what we can learn. I wanted to address individual change as well as community change. I hoped to introduce and discuss innovative processes and new tools to balance individual fulfillment and capital needs in the world of “causes,” plus share impact investing avenues and other ways to influence/create change.

I wanted to start with our own community because, in my opinion, with our society’s financial and political problems, change now has to happen from the bottom up. Real change is deeply personal. Built on clarity and trust, it depends on strong relationships. But it also depends on innovation of new social, psychological, organizational, and economic methods.

Well, we certainly have done better than I had envisioned. 

A Time for Reflection

Through the diverse topics in this column, we presented an example of how impact investing expands philanthropy’s effectiveness with an example of an impact investment that creates great return and great benefit to Santa Barbara and beyond.

We discussed money and what it means to us and how the thoughtless pursuit of it can make us unhappy.

We addressed the needs of the non-profits by explaining that many non-profits can find alternative funding that can make them more sustainable.

We looked at the problem of betrayal which seems to trouble everyone’s experience.

We discussed passion which so many pursue without finding it, and put a spotlight on how to find it.

We shared how Sustainable Change Alliance member Jonathan Gartner found meaning in his third age through impact investing in our community.

We presented a heroine’s journey by telling the tale of Laura Francis and how her values and dedication to our oceans through impact investing came about.

We gave the example of Tom Washing and what makes a person great.

We presented an interview with Ron Gallo who, through his life story, taught us about what motivates a person to dedicate his life to helping others.

Our interview with John Steed documented the enormous challenge that climate change presents and what we can do locally.

And, finally, Amy Cooper of Plum Goods Store showed us why retailing in Santa Barbara is a problem and what needs to happen to solve it.

Yes, it has been quite a year!

I hope that our many readers will continue their interest in our efforts for change, that they will tell their friends about us, and that more people will visit our blog and share comments about the columns.

For example, this from one of our readers regarding the column “Leadership Vacuum”: “Amy is 100% correct. I took photos in 2017 of all the State Street vacancies facing the street in the four-block core and it was staggering. I sent them to the Council and met with people. One thing not mentioned is that the design of the public/private structure of many of the organizations that could clearly address our biggest challenges tie the hands of those who could make big changes. Our inability to make sensible decisions to address mental health and public decency is based in a long history of over-tolerance that needs some serious rethinking, if for nothing else to help those in need. Our system of unnecessary regs (some are) stops innovation and evolution to new models. More on any of this upon request. I have a lot to say about it.”

And here is another: “Peter. Thanks for your interview with Amy. I hope you continue to follow-up on this important issue of revitalizing downtown.”

We would love to hear your views as well on our blog.

As we move forward, we will continue the conversation about how community, change and capital can work together with a goal of having a positive and sustainable impact on pressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

Thank you for your support throughout 2019 and I hope everyone has a wonderful year in 2020.I welcome all questions and comments and can be reached at pbrill@dwmblog.com


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