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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Bikes and bucks
November 2, 2011 - 3:54pm

According to Grist, the Wall Street occupiers are now getting their electricity generated by means of stationary bicycles.  A handful of Greenback students have devised similar contraptions over the years, so it's nice to see them being applied in a real-world (and very public) situation.  I have mixed feelings about the previous electricity source (portable generators) having been seized by the authorities, but I definitely like how things ended up.

Of course, bicycle generation is a model that doesn't scale well.  And it's not an efficient long-term solution to very much.  But one other occupation-related idea does, and is: moving money out of major banks.

Now, I don't expect any major research institution to swear off Citicorp or Chase or BoA any time soon.  Big institutions (including big schools) like to deal with other big institutions.  And many schools have long-standing credit arrangements and investments tied up with major financial firms.  Some also receive research funds, place lots of interns, stuff like that.

Still, the fact remains that funds deposited with major financial firms don't contribute much to the local economy.  Heck, they don't contribute very much (not near as much as they used to) to even the national economy.  Funds deposited at regional or -- better -- locally-owned banks, however, are much more likely to be invested locally.  And it you do your "banking" with a local credit union (not much of an option for institutions, but a very good one for individuals), you're almost assured that they'll be invested in your own community.

A lot of the "Occupation" energy comes out of anger at major financial institutions that (1) have way too much influence inside the Beltway, so that when they (2) landed us in the current economic mess, they (3) got bailed out with taxpayer funds, while (4) over-paying executives an insane amount and (5) avoiding paying a whole lot of taxes, themselves.  But you don't have to be outraged by that scenario, or even buy into it as factual, to recognize the benefit of moving your funds.  Money invested locally builds strong, resilient, robust local and regional economies.  Sustainable economies.  And that's good for all of us.

When to move your funds?  There's never a bad day, but this Saturday is an especially good one.  On Saturday, tens of thousands nationwide have already committed to moving their money.  If you join them, you'll reinforce the message that "too big to be allowed to fail" is not something any of us can afford.  And what better day than November 5 to deliver that message?  (Remember, remember, the fifth of November . . .)



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