The year in review—and gratitude for YOU

Detail from Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris, Fr. where CSC team member Hilary was recently amused by this reminder. Her 2017 interpretation: “Make your charitable donations by the end of the year!”

It’s become cliché:  the “year in the review” (and ask*) that predictably comes from nearly every nonprofit in December. In CSC’s case, our past 12 months has been a veritable hero’s journey.  In December 2016, CSC was wandering alone, a little lost, and there was a big ogre…

Just kidding, there was no ogre. Just you amazing folks. And our determination. That’s the short story of CSC’s 2017. The longer version follows.

Early last spring, after much encouragement from our community, CSC dusted itself off and fired up our engines to again bring connected, ethical finance to businesses and citizen lenders. The journey has been a challenging one. We’ve worked diligently to reboot as mission-based operation in both deed and legal fact. From building a stellar volunteer board and advisors, to enacting our strategy, building new partnerships and attending and presenting at dozens of convenings, we’ve been busy! We reactivated over 20% of repaid dollars in CSC’s Squareholders accounts to go do more great work (yay!) and engaged the support of over 500 generous individuals in directly funding CSC’s restart.

And we’ve also had setbacks, specifically around the technology that was custom built for us several years ago. As we end 2017, we’re doing deferred maintenance and making unexpected critical repairs to the platform. While there are still unknowns, we know it will be at least $20,000 to ensure completion of the first and most pressing stepensuring the platform functions so we can launch new campaigns.

We’re grateful to be working with long experienced (and generous) developers. While the platform is “in the shop” we have businesses waiting to run campaigns as soon as all is well. It’s been tough for everyone to be patient, but fully functional technology is necessary to ensure we are creating a responsible path to connected capital for everyone!

It’s an understatement to say we look forward to 2018 (and a functional platform!) so we can truly rock our mission to to amplify, educate and connect people and and communities around healthy finance. After all, that’s why we’re here. And more importantly, it’s why you’re here. We couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you for being with us through this long journey and for supporting CSC’s work. We wish you a holiday season that is generous, reciprocal and connected!

*  We’ll keep this part short. We are hoping to raise the $20K to cover the first round of our technology updates before January 1. If you feel motivated to give, tax-deductible year end donations can be made to CSC through our fiscal sponsor Seattle Good Business Network.

A Love Story for John Berdes

John Berdes, the CEO of Craft3, lost his life to lung cancer and we are deeply bereaved. John was Our friend, partner, and mentor. We loved him. He was a brilliant visionary who worked his whole life to build just and equitable finance for communities.

We met John almost three years ago. He pinged CSC and said, matter-of-factly:

I would be interested in sitting down sometime and figuring out what possible synergies there are between us. We seem to share some core beliefs.

Who could resist? That was the beginning of a beautiful collaboration and friendship. A delightful aspect of working with John was how he wrote. In the follow-on to our first meeting, he sent this morsel embedded in a list of what he could offer to CSC:

3. I am personally available to provide depressing perspectives and irrefutable truths (and generally opine on your considerable options).

Yup. That was John. We learned that his depressing perspectives were pretty much right on, and his irrefutable truths, well, despite our best efforts, they turned out to be just that.

John wanted to accelerate our brand of healthy community capital and he put 500,000 of Craft3’s dollars to work on our platform. He recognized the power of community based finance and supported Squareholders by matching their Squares one to one. Craft3 matching capital has built larger loans for 40 small businesses in Oregon and Washington.

John wasn’t only generous, he was also tough. He challenged us every step of the way– to do more for small community businesses (especially those left out of the financial system), to do it responsibly, and to build our business in a way that was sustainable so we too would survive. Sometimes it was tough to hear his perspectives. And often that was just what we needed.

In his frank way, shortly before he died, John said:

I’m not here to read tributes, just stories of love and life.

And so, John, this is not a tribute, but a love story.

Wendell Berry Quote

“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” ― Wendell Berry

Emerging solutions

As networks grow and transform into active, working communities of practice, we discover how life truly changes, which is through emergence…

As networks grow and transform into active, working communities of practice, we discover how life truly changes, which is through emergence … change begins as local actions spring up simultaneously in many different areas. If these changes remained disconnected, nothing happens beyond each locale. However, when they become connected, local actions can emerge as a powerful system.
-Margaret Wheatley

Practice alone doesn’t produce work that matters quote

“Practice alone doesn’t produce work that matters. No, that only comes from caring. From caring enough to leap, to bleed for the art, to go out on the ledge, where it’s dangerous.”

“Practice alone doesn’t produce work that matters. No, that only comes from caring. From caring enough to leap, to bleed for the art, to go out on the ledge, where it’s dangerous.” – Seth Godin