It’s a Big World
As individuals and as a company, the Blue Planet Science Group regularly find ourselves at the heart of projects creating the changes the world overwhelmingly wants to see. We work with innovative collaborators and leaders from around the world whose vision and experiments in technology, agriculture, civic management, investment, and community planning are often ahead of the curve, and bring those ideas and visions to put them to work in the Heartland.
And It’s all Connected
With time, we have found that many of our traditional approaches to economic development, agriculture, environmental problems, civic management and host of other areas that impact our day-to-day lives are simply not serving us as well as they could. It’s not that they’re outright broken, or even out-dated. It’s simply that over time, we have allowed too many interests to ignore scientific realities in pursuit of investment returns, pushed too much of the cost of environmental side effects of private business onto taxpayers, allowed too much money to impact the effectiveness of our democracy, shuffled too much of the costs of our social and physical infrastructure onto the backs of future generations, and actively supported tax and business incentive programs that have no proven outcomes. More importantly, we continue to approach all of these problems as if they exist in silos, and that actions and reactions in one area have no bearing on others–because the real problems are “too big” to address.
Advances in technology and science are making the world’s biggest problems a bit smaller every day. These advances can also be used not just to repair damage we’ve done, but to rebuild businesses and markets in ways that allow them to avoid creating external problems in the first place. Blockchain and other technologies offer ways to document, track, and verify new types of transactions so that externalized costs can be accounted for, and the benefits internalized. Advances in imaging and GIS allow farmers to not only manage their land with less impact, but to actually make verifiable restoration a part of their business efforts. Small farms and rural communities offer myriad opportunities for research in electric vehicles, robotics, small-scale energy systems, and other core technologies that have the ability to reduce the footprint of agricultural and transportation activities even further. Solutions don’t get employed in a vacuum, and long-term sustainable development requires long-term thinking.
Our problems are not unique in the world. Often, others have experienced them long ago and been working for years to find solutions. The answers they find more often than not contain the seeds of the answers needed elsewhere. We have all of the tools and pieces we need to make the changes we desire. We simply need to deploy them with broader perspectives.
“Regenerative strategies” focus upon channelling financial resources into projects that mimic the way natural systems cycle matter and energy. Investing in businesses that minimize the use of fossil fuel and artificial chemicals while providing opportunities for natural systems to remain healthy or to be restored around them requires a long view. But it is a way to assure that we meet our obligations to ensure future generations will share in the bounty we are called on to steward, and that products absorb their true costs of production.
This will require far-sighted investments in clean energy, sustainable agriculture, small-scale forestry, recycling and reuse, and real estate development, among other areas. It may involve investment vehicles which don’t yet exist, the novel use of tools that do exist to achieve better social outcomes, and new urban-rural-business-public partnerships working on larger scales than have been tried in the past.
Building a regenerative social model of any kind starts with moving more resources into local ownership, building community wealth from the inside, and leveraging that wealth for new local opportunities. Worker-owned cooperatives, small business incubators, and urban land trusts all contribute to a more regenerative local economy by creating more producers than consumers.
We work with investors, community leaders, business people, foundations and others to devise, develop, and implement strategies that collect the best regenerative solutions from around the world and offer locale-specific models to build upon.
Since the turn of the century, investors have been articulating the need for this new category of investment beyond stocks, bonds, and community banks and credit unions. Regenerative investing strategies can help create a more just and sustainable society and planet by supporting projects with support for that vision as part of their core operations. Numerous funds and options exist focused on urban efforts, but few have paid attention to rural America and the heartland. We believe part of the heartland’s struggle with attracting investment money is that we just aren’t offering investments that attract people. We are working to change that, and we look forward to the day when these types of investments are readily available to the average investor.
In the meantime, qualified and accredited investors can seek out private equity and venture capital opportunities that offer outstanding social return by supporting some of the most forward-looking experiments in development and agriculture.
Private Equity/Public Partnerships
Many opportunities exist for accredited investors to help innovative enterprises get off the ground or expand. These investments are currently largely in food and agriculture, but usually also include elements of traditional real estate, construction, production manufacturing, energy production, and on-farm technologies. Private investments that help people and are environmentally sensitive or regenerative offer a different risk profile than publicly traded securities and can provide a more hands-on relationship to what you own.
Similarly, there are many non-profit organizations and foundations seeking private partners for cooperative efforts to build and grow production capacity, processing capabilities and distribution channels for small grains, fruits and vegetables, nut crops and other specialty efforts. Rural markets anchored in cooperative efforts have a better chance of success, and a better record of growth, and we work regularly to build such partnerships and leverage regenerative opportunities.
At Blue Planet Science Group, we seek out innovative investment opportunities that are creating the change we all wish to see in the world.
Merlin is the co-author of the book The Water Solution, and a people and planet activist with a passion and desire to transform America’s health care system and democracy. He is responsible for bringing MiVote technology to the US and Iowa, and sits on the Committee for Community Health Improvement, within Iowa’s Healthiest State initiative that is powered by Wellmark. His focus is on the fundamentals of Water, Soil/Food/Agriculture, Education and Health, and he has created an MTP (A Massive Transformative Purpose) to engage youth, community and business leaders in “building smart communities, smart and progressive states, and is committed to a bottom up – top-down approach that can build community and organizational IQ and empower all stakeholders in participating in turning today’s grand challenges, into grand opportunities. He is a member of Smart Growth America, U.S Water Alliance and Escape Fire • USA – the Fight to Rescue American Health Care, and is an active participant in the Singularity University HUB group that is advancing the Exponential Growth of Information Technology. His ultimate mission is to disrupt the status quo, and “business as usual” in our nation and world, and to introduce new ideas and technologies that will “truly” Democratize our communities, states, nation and world.