Home Matters

Thursday, April 16, 2020

By Susan Hammel, CFA, MCF Executive in Residence

We need to come together (from a distance) now more than ever as we battle COVID-19.


More of us are spending a great deal of time at home these days with the Stay-At-Home and work remotely orders. It got me thinking about how grateful I am to even have a home and especially to have the ability to work from home. I look out my windows and see neighbors I’ve never seen before out walking their dogs, pushing strollers, walking alone and with friends (6 feet apart, of course).  Home, neighbors, communities: place matters. 

In my gut, I’ve known this truth for a long time which is why I’ve focused on “place-based impact investing” aka a fancy way of saying invest in the places you love, but that’s the topic of a prior blog “Build on the Love People have for Where they live

This pandemic is laying bare the glaring injustices and inequities in our communities, our regions, our world. So far COVID-19 has hit the developed world hard but next up is the developing world. If it’s been bad here, what will it be like there? And it’s not equally bad for everyone here in the U.S. For people lacking health insurance, loving families, safe neighborhoods, jobs, and yes homes, they are facing hardships much beyond getting bored with Netflix.

As usual, during times of trouble, I find strength through my Catholic faith, passed down by generations of strong, faith-filled women in my family. Pope Francis said it best:

Praying in an empty, rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis on Friday likened the coronavirus pandemic to a storm laying bare the illusions that people can be self-sufficient, and instead leaving “all of us fragile and disoriented” and needing one another’s help and comfort.” Star Tribune 3/28/2020

In other words, the time for investing in place is now. We need to marshall all the resources at our disposal to build strong, resilient communities that work for all. If you’re a social entrepreneur doing that, NOW IS YOUR TIME. If you’re an investor who’s dabbled in impact investing, DO MORE. We need you now, more than ever because once the charitable and government supports run out, we need smart, compassionate entrepreneurs and investors to launch solutions, retool factories, and get capital flowing to underserved communities be they African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, LGBTQ, rural,  and economically depressed.

When the reality first hit home for me in the past 2 weeks I wasn’t sure if all the wonderful social entrepreneurs and impact investors I know and love would just stop. I worried they would think now isn’t the time to try something new or innovative or take the risk. And while people are certainly hunkered down, my phone is ringing off the hook with people wanting to help: what can impact investors do? How can small manufacturing businesses help out? What innovative solutions can help bring us all together? In particular, I’m inspired by:

I hope this leaves you feeling inspired to step up and out to serve our community during this time. Stay safe: enjoy your home: and don’t lose the faith (whatever yours is). We will get through this, together.

Resources

Minnesota resources

National resources

Susan Hammel Bio:  As a philosophy major who went to Wall Street, Susan Hammel translates between passionate social changemakers and expert accountants. In her role as CEO of Cogent Consulting, Susan is celebrating over 20 years as an impact advisor and is serving her fifth year as Minnesota Council on Foundation Executive in Residence for impact investing. Like in her youth, Susan remains optimistic and passionate about changing the world and enjoys downtime by the lake with her husband and the 4 adult children in their blended family, their partners, plus a recent addition of a beautiful grandson. 

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