Excerpted and adapted from
The Resilient Investor.
In Local Dollars, Local Sense, a thorough survey of the local investment movement, Michael Shuman makes a compelling case that small businesses comprise about half the GDP of the United States, but most investors are completely missing out. Overinvesting in Wall Street and under investing in Main Street (and other Close to Home Strategies) is a diversification problem that this book, and especially this Strategy, intends to help you overcome. As we mentioned earlier, while this type of financial investment has been difficult at best for most of us, there are encouraging developments underway.
While everyone is involved with at least some, and usually many, “close to home” activities, there are two groups for whom this has become the main focus of their resilient investing practice. The first works to enliven local economies, primarily because of the positive effects that enhanced community resilience would offer under any future scenario, and secondarily as a hedge against systemic economic shocks. They bank local, buy local, and invest in local businesses. Transition Towns, and many other local and regional initiatives are engaged in such proactive “going local” efforts. Others draw investments close to home to prepare for systemic breakdown, with an emphasis on personal and family survival, and in some cases, to strengthen regional resilience. Their goal is to increase their odds of surviving “the end of the world as we know it.” Some are “preppers,” caching food, water, and ammunition on the edge of civilization, while others are deep ecologists who believe we’ve passed irreversible ecological tipping points, and that their energy is best used in personal and regional preparedness.
We might playfully label folks from these two perspectives “bloomers” and “doomers.” For the bloomers, with the intention of building community resilience, the paramount goals are diverse local ownership, sustainability, and helping “dollars stay in the local economy to improve quality of life for all.” Doomers, who aim to ride out “the big reset” through personal resilience, see self-sufficiency and protection against threats as primary; some also stress moral integrity and charity. Both perspectives put a premium on good soil, heirloom skills, personal health, and freedom from dependency. Close-to-home investors include both of these camps and more, including those who take small actions as modest hedges against the possibility of systemic shocks and to fosters cherished human values. As long-standing community activists, we’re motivated more by the desire to be proactive, but we also resonate with the wisdom of “be prepared.”