North Dakota and Vermont – Precedents in Public Banking

Vermont is currently considering massive changes in the way it conducts banking by instituting a public bank of its own.

The proposal would give Vermont Economic Development Authority a banking license and allocate it 10% of taxes collected by the state, rather than the current scenario where large banks outside of the state hold (and use) Vermont’s money. With Vermont in control of its own finances, the state could use the money to fund projects that benefit the state and local economies, including granting loans to Vermonters.

More than 20 Vermont towns met this month to weigh the merits of public banking and the response was extremely favorable. By a margin of about 2:1, Vermonters advocated for public banking.

Preliminary calculations conducted by Vermonters for a New Economy indicate that public banking would be a boon for the state. The group estimates that the program would create more than 2,500 jobs and generate about $350 million annually. Considering that Vermont is a state with only 600,000 citizens, that’s a 1.26% boost in overall growth.

Vermont citizens also liked the idea of severing ties with Wall Street banks. For example, many Vermonters are disappointed to learn that their money is held by banks that are currently lobbying for the Keystone Pipeline, a project understandably opposed by residents in one of the nation’s greenest states. Additionally, though the bank would turn big profits, that wouldn’t be the sole motivation. For that reason, the state bank would not make risky, economy-crashing investments like the big-name corporate banks.

“A public bank for Vermont would create jobs and allow Vermonters to take control over our financial destiny at a time when everyone agrees that Wall Street’s corporate commercial banking model is deeply flawed at best,” said Rob Williams, a Vermont resident who supports the proposal.

Those afraid of whether public banking will actually work need look no further than North Dakota. The Peace Garden State is a pioneer in public banking, first establishing the institution 99 years ago. The Bank of North Dakota exists to help the state fund large projects, as well as offer inexpensive loans to students, businesses and farmers. Between 2000-2009, the bank pushed $300 million in earnings back to the state’s treasury. The financial stability and cushion that public banking affords the state has been credited with making North Dakota one of the states to best weather the recession in the past five years.

(Source: This is a short version of Care2.com original article here)

Denim Made from Recycled Ocean Plastic, by Pharrell Williams

Fashion designer, singer, and Grammy-winning artist Pharrell Williams debuted his latest project, “RAW for the Oceans,” during a high-profile event last weekend in the midst of New York City’s Fashion Week. The 40-year-old, who serves as the creative director of Bionic Yarn, will collaborate with denim brand G-Star Raw on the new collection, which incorporates the recycled-plastic-turned-eco-friendly-fabric.

“Working with G-Star was an obvious choice,” Williams said in a statement. “They have a legacy of pushing the boundaries of fashion and denim forward. Bionic Yarn is a company built around performance, and denim is the perfect category to show the world what our product can do. Everyone has jeans in their closet.”

With growing concern over ever-growing garbage patches of floating plastic in the world’s oceans, any product that can take advantage of such waste is helpful. “We all should [have a higher consciousness],” Pharrell told the Wall Street Journal. “Look, I’m not a huge activist or anything. I’m just playing my little part because each drop counts. I’m happy to be a participant.” Pharrell intends his Raw for the Oceans collection to be available by Aug. 15. Check out a promo animation for the new line.

Article by Michael d’Estries

 

(Source: Care2.com Article

How Cities and Wildlife Can Be Friends Instead of Enemies

We generally think of cities as devoid of nature. These crowded, homogenized, noisy environments seem to be the exact opposite of natural, and we’re correct in surmising that their creation is detrimental to wild species. “We paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” as the song goes.

But recent research suggests that while it may not be her first choice, Mother Nature’s adaptation skills make it possible for cities and wildlife to coexist, and even flourish.

Charles Nilon, a professor of fisheries and wildlife at the University of Missouri, recently published a study which found that while urbanization is hurting overall biodiversity, certain birds and plants thrive in cities. The results of this study suggest that paying more attention to the way we design and develop our urban areas could encourage a more symbiotic relationship between humans and the flora and fauna.

In the study, investigators from the U.S., U.K., Sweden, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia examined the birds in 54 cities and plants in 110 cities worldwide. Cities studied included Baltimore, Berlin, Jalisco (Mexico), New York City, Phoenix, Potchefstroom (South Africa) and Stockholm. Nilon said the researchers found four types of birds that actually prefer concrete jungles – pigeons, waterfowl, raptors and house sparrows.

Which leads us to the moral of the story: how can we ensure that cities, plants and animals get along even better in the future? With more than 50 percent of humanity now living in cities (and 60 percent of the land projected to become urban by 2030 has yet to be built), it’s unrealistic to suggest that we stop building them. So we have to build them differently.

Nilon’s research suggests that urban planners should create new habitats to strengthen these city-dwelling bird and plant populations and attract new species. “The greatest loss in plant and animal density occurs in older cities that have a lack of plant cover,” he explained. So setting standards for the preservation and restoration of green spaces, with special focus on native plant species, is essential. The success of green roofing and urban agriculture initiatives in some of the world’s biggest cities proves that this can be done in a way that’s beneficial to both humans and wildlife.

In this way, cities can become havens where wildlife and plants are equally important residents, and perhaps the urban areas of tomorrow will be healthier, more pleasant places to be. For all of us.

(Read full Care2.com article here)