Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 11.11.01 AMAt last year’s MMMC, Jay Saper, Adam Roberts and I hung out for hours in a hallway talking about the impact of (science) fiction in imagining our future and our shared enthusiasm for storytelling through zines. Adam asked me if I’d like to work with him on a zine connecting the framework of the Zen parable “Taming the Ox” with understanding class privilege and inheriting wealth and I agreed immediately! As white folks straying from the secular capitalist orthodoxy we grew up in, we both found an early alternative in Buddhism.

My own story is that I spent 6 months living at a Burmese Monastery in India, and then two winters in Thailand living on anti-capitalist communes with the fundamentalist Buddhist group Santi Asoke (comics about that here). I learned how capitalism centers profit and extracting profit produces negative karma.  Buddhist economics provided a big enough crack, an approachable opening, for taking on the whole of capitalist culture, and I began to question everything from consumerism to vocation.

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 A great piece by our summer intern Maddie Reichman for throw back Thursday on an Op Ed by leaders in the DC Chapter. 

17e77f5This spring the DC chapter of Resource Generation worked with other community groups for fair tax policy. There was a proposal for a tax package that included large tax cuts for wealthy people, including the elimination of the tax bracket for the highest earners and an increase in the threshold for the Estate Tax. In the end we won some, the higher tax rate on high wage earners remained in the budget, and we lost some, the increase in the estate tax threshold was also included. This editorial by DC chapter leader Sam Waxman was written in response to the Estate Tax changes.

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springboard group

By Katherine Wolf

I joined Springboard Giving Circle (in part) because of a New Year’s resolution. Risk-taking in all the ways ­– political, social, interpersonal, creative – was going to determine my attitude towards new endeavors and potential opportunities in 2014. Since MMMC, the desire to become more involved with RG had also snowballed into what felt like an existential necessity, and so when I was approached to join the group I said yes. Yes to Springboard, yes to community, yes to finally taking concrete action to move resources out of my pretty piggy bank into the hands of powerful NYC grassroots organizing. And of course, yes to risk.

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10417489_930887197473_5786368066272531445_nOne thing is for sure- the people who work at RG have a lot of good ideas, and sometimes too many. A couple months back, Mike sent me this sprawling document (9 pages long!) that various staff members had worked on. It was called “Leveraging our Resources for Change: 55” Ways to Take Action (need to count them)”— and there were many more than 55 there. The document was a list of ways that people could work towards social change.

I pared it down, and our designer Ryan made it into a snappy document. The list is broken down into 4 parts: ideas for action if you 1) have money or investments, 2) have class privilege, 3) are a member of RG, or 4) want to help elsewhere.

Now called “Using Your Power Wisely: 65 Ways to Take Action” (I counted), it will be helpful whenever someone asks, “What can I do to help?” It can be used at retreats and events to inspire those who want to work for the equitable distribution of land, wealth and power. It is available on the Free Downloads page here for all you RG supporters.

Share and tweet this out if you think resources like this are important!

 

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IMG_2387We at Resource Generation stand proudly in solidarity with all the actions happening this week in the name of climate justice, and extend our gratitude and support to the incredible amount of labor and organizing that has made it possible. Several RG leaders were on the front lines of civil disobedience today at Flood Wall Street, calling to change our current economic system, which is both a cause of and directly profits from the climate crisis and exploitation of indigenous and low income and working class communities. We celebrate the power and unity of the hundreds of thousands of people that are taking action this week!  We carry this energy and urgency forward with all of you in our commitment to end destructive economies that profit from exploiting labor and land and move toward a future of shared wealth, land and power.

Some resources we wanted to share as we move forward!

Regenerative Finance: ReGenerative Finance works as a political project, a model for a just transition, and a regenerative financial organization

Divest/Invest Philanthropy: We are foundations divesting from fossil fuels and switching to clean energy investments, joining college, health, pension funds and religious endowments doing the same. Ethically, our investments shouldn’t contribute to dangerous climate change. Financially, fossil fuel stocks are over-valued as most of their reserves cannot be burned. We can get good, safe returns while helping to build a new energy system.

Recent blog post by RG member Ari Sahagun

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by Ari Sahagun

I don’t know about you, but for me, dedicating my life to environmental justice while holding investments in fossil fuels just doesn’t add up.  As an RG member, actively looking to leverage my class privilege for justice and other values I believe in, I was encouraged to learn about the Divest/Invest Philanthropy group and attended a webinar to learn more.

Divest/Invest Philanthropy works with foundations and individuals to take investments out of fossil fuel companies and invest in a carbon neutral future.

I want to share this as a strategy that cultivates our hope for a future without fossil fuels, restores power to people most affected by climate change, and begins healing ourselves from the hurts we’ve inflicted on the natural world.

What follows are 3 key lessons I learned and some suggested next steps.

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When I first heard about Resource Generation, I had two reactions.

The first was skeptical. I don’t know about this…social justice organizing by young people with wealth?

The second was grateful. Holy crap — I have been looking for this for YEARS.

That’s because I am a young person with wealth1. In my early twenties, I inherited a trust fund and stock portfolio, mostly in Exxon-Mobil and Chevron stocks, from my dad’s side of the family. As I was steadily politicized during and after college, I struggled for years over what this inherited wealth meant for me, as well as more generally over what my place could be in movements for social justice.

Slowly but surely, I learned: as a man, I could recognize my male privilege and reach out toward other men to challenge sexism; as a white person, I could recognize my white privilege and reach out toward other white people to challenge racism. But there was a problem: I didn’t want to reach out toward wealthy people. I hated wealthy people! I hated the preppy culture I grew up in; the global system of financial exploitation that was the root cause of so much suffering and violence; the bubbles of wealth, privilege, and ignorance that perpetuated this vast inequity and injustice.

I hated myself. That was a powerful feeling.

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Hello, Resource Generation! My name is Iimay (pronounced “ee-may”) Ho and I joined the staff as the new Associate Director in mid August. I have the great honor and challenge of filling Mike Gast’s shoes as he transitions to life after RG. I’m thrilled to be leading our fundraising and assisting Jessie with organizational development to ensure that RG is a healthy, sustainable, effective organization.

I’m based in Washington, DC and have lived here for the past 6 years. I was born and raised in Cary, North Carolina, and identify as a Southerner. Barbecue, sweet tea, and the NC State Fair hold a special place in my heart. Growing up Asian American with immigrant parents in the South politicized me early – I got a lot of messages growing up that I didn’t belong. My experiences of racism were buffered by my family’s wealth and class privilege and my strong ties to my large extended family. Spending summers in NJ with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, I knew that there was always a place of refuge for me.

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Post written by RG staff and board members. Special thank you to board member Nakisha Lewis for kicking this into action. We also released a press release titled “Young People with Wealth Stand in Solidarity with Ferguson, Mo.” inspired by this post.

At Resource Generation, we are deeply saddened and outraged over the death of yet another young Black man at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown’s cold-blooded killing has inspired days of protests in Ferguson’s Black community, met with a militarized response and heavy repression from St. Louis Police.

As many of us know, this is the product of institutionalized racism. We remember Trayvon Martin and so many others, and we know there will be more until we stop the killing of Black men, women, and transgender people, and uproot racism and white supremacy from every institution, community, heart, mind, and action.

The sort of rage and response we see in the Ferguson community did not develop overnight- it was born out of generations of oppression and the gutting of resources from Black communities. Continue reading

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Iris Brilliant is the new Family Philanthropy and Impact Investing Organizer at Resource Generation. She grew up in the Marin County, CA and currently lives in a seven-person collective in Oakland, CA. Her first praxis group at RG was so transformative that it continues to meet, even after two years. She then joined the Bay Area Leadership Team, where she formed the first ever Jewish Praxis group, which explored the intersection of class privilege and Jewish identity and history. With a family background in philanthropy, Iris has been immersed in the philanthropic world since the age of fourteen, and has often found herself to be one of a few young adults at philanthropic conferences. As a result, she is passionate about supporting the leadership development of young adults in the philanthropic world and their implementation of social change values and practices into philanthropy. Previously, Iris was an editor at Make/shift Magazine, a feminist magazine based in Los Angeles,CA, and an intern at the Catalyst Project, a white anti-racist organization in San Francisco, CA.

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