Update :: Enlightened Banking
11 years ago in YES! …
we featured the founding of ShoreTrust Bank, a leading example of what has since become a trend in socially and environmentally responsible banking. A joint project of EcoTrust and ShoreBank Corporation, it promised to invest in projects that would help the economically depressed region of southwest Washington develop in a way that could sustain the area’s small communities while preserving and restoring fragile coastal and forest ecosystems. But would it work?
|Portland public school students at Tryon Life Community Farm, Tryonfarm.org.|
ShoreTrust today has a different name and a lot more clients, but the same mission that it had eleven years ago. Now called ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia, it’s a certified nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution that in 2007 provided $13.7 million in loans, 80 percent of them in rural communities.
“There are a lot of people who have poor credit, are low-income, or otherwise are uninteresting to the commercial banking world—but they have ideas that can benefit their communities. Those are the people we serve,” said chief operating and finance officer David Provost.
ShoreBank EC has made loans to small-scale organic farms, green building projects, land trusts, affordable housing projects, fair trade importers, and small businesses in underserved areas.
When the landlords of Tryon Life Community Farm in Portland decided to sell their land to a residential developer, the Farm’s resident renters faced eviction. Their intentional farm community, inside Portland city limits and bordering hundreds of acres of protected forest, would be replaced by 23 upscale homes unless they could raise more than $1.4 million to buy the land themselves. The task took months of fundraising and help from all sectors of the Portland community—plus a $600,000 loan from ShoreBank.
“The Bank was phenomenal in putting in the energy to push the deal through in time,” said Brenna Bell, president of the Farm’s board of directors. “Other people would have just shaken their heads and said, ‘You have no track record. You’re hippies. No way.’ And ShoreBank wasn’t like that. They thought what we were doing was important.”
Brooke Jarvis wrote this Update as part of Stop Global Warming Cold, the Spring 2008 issue of YES! Magazine. Brooke is a YES! editorial assistant.
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