Synthesizing Vision through Poetry


Over 40 stakeholders in impact investment and philanthropy met last week in the leafy green of Race Brook in the Berkshires, two hours west of Boston. It was organized by Financing Transformations Working Group Stewards Heather Grady and Laurie Lane-Zucker. Philanthropy Transforming Finance: Building an Impact Economy participants wrote about their vision and purpose in advance. Laurie transformed these into a poem that was recited at the beginning and end of the meeting, and elicited deep connection. Take a moment to breath in; take a moment to connect; take a moment to live into the visions.

I want to tell what the forests/were like/I will have to speak/in a forgotten language. — Witness by W.S. Merwin, Former U.S. Poet Laureate

Witnesses at Race Brook


I believe we have come

to the end of the story

the story of ever increasing prosperity

through undifferentiated growth


there are physical


to exponential growth

as well as social limits to



an ideal economic system is one

that maximizes wellbeing

a system encouraging

asset sharing and

conservation of common goods

a system that values real wealth in the form of

tangible natural and social capital

that creates opportunity for all

especially those most oppressed or


where small and growing business entrepreneurs

in emerging markets

have access to financial resources


this new system is a

complex dynamic

much like an ecosystem

 embedded in natural environments

governed by biophysical laws

and deeply influenced

by human history



and behavior

one that fully internalizes

social and environmental externalities

that enables nature

communities and people

to thrive

where monetary and bank lending systems are

accountable for their long-term impact to



and people


this is an enterprise for

a livable planet

operating within planetary thresholds

and meeting the

Sustainable Development Goals

with local consumers

supporting local business owners

and feeling the direct impact

of their consumption choices


we seek a durable and

shareable prosperity

stakeholders in decision-making

purpose-driven businesses

true cost capitalism

holistic stewardship

employees and consumers choosing

purpose driven firms and brands

biodiversity conservation

carbon storage in land and sea

ecosystem regeneration where the economic and

financial system aligns perfectly with

the requirements of sustainable


where there are no

marked income and

wealth disparities

and reparations for



exploitation and


are paid


we need a new narrative

new intellectual frameworks

around wealth accumulation


and the plumbing needs to be built

less extractive

designing out waste

injecting philanthropic dollars at catalytic junctures

where ownership models are localized

where we start with the needs of

end users

and design systems that suit

those needs

where Philanthropy

and public actors

catalyze and guide

private investment into key areas

more capital

more capital


more capital

to the underrepresented

to entrepreneurs seeking investment opportunities

in every place

along issue lines


private entities should be


or rewarded

based on

their denigration

or material improvement of

Tier 1 assets




where we build

a shared and durable

prosperity for all

fairly allocated




because remember

let it not be forgotten

that our


are really symptoms

of systems design

designed to deliver

precisely the outcomes

we are experiencing


we need

a triple bottom line

brain chemistry

where sustainability and well-being

are outcomes of the

regenerative process

where right relationship

holistic wealth


are aligned to

intrinsic systemic health


a mission-based economy

a wellbeing economy

a resilient economy

relentlessly pursued


We need women and minorities

to redesign the paradigm

so that negative externalities

are internalized


ethically and fairly

along a blockchain of trust

these are the principles

of ethical biomimicry finance

with incentives guiding investment

across ESG factors

where a series of regional economies

each producing locally

the majority of products consumed locally

supporting people and societies

to realize their highest

aspirations and greatest potentials




ecological ceilings and social foundations

social ceilings and ecological foundations

across scales from local to bioregional

and networked in fractal patterns

to ultimately a global scale


this is

The Regenerative Universe


one that acknowledges


whole planet systems thinking

inspired by the world’s wisdom traditions





remember now

this forgotten language


this language


our new source code

for life



there are

no externalities




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