The Year in the Life of a Regenerative Bank
Regeneration is the self-restoring and self-renewing process that natural systems undergo as they respond and adapt to unexpected, sometimes threatening, circumstances.
No system can sustain itself over the long-term if it does not continuously regenerate. The Year in the Life of a Regenerative Bank project poses a critical question for our uncertain times: Can the tools of finance and banking be used, not just for short-term financial gain, but to support the regeneration of our human communities and economies, and the stressed ecological systems upon which they depend for their very survival? Can a bank be profitable and also serve as a regenerative change agent? Ken LaRoe, founder & CEO of First Green Bank, will be exploring this question. In 2006, after the lucrative sale of the first bank he founded, LaRoe embarked on a cross-country trip, and decided to establish a new bank with a values-driven mission in Lake County, Florida. In December 2008, during the darkest days of the recession, First Green Bank was granted the last FDIC bank charter in the state. LaRoe was determined that First Green Bank would play a meaningful role in the regeneration of the Central Florida economy.
In the coming year, it will be determined how the values-driven mission of the First Green Bank translates into real-world practice, and how it aligns with the principles of "Regenerative Capitalism." Regenerative Capitalism has two components: first, a shift to a “regenerative paradigm,” and second, an evolution to a more complex understanding of what we need to understand as “capital” if the economy is to be ecologically sustainable and also promote shared well-being. LaRoe and his staff, while charting their mission, will be mentored by leaders of the Regenerative Economy, who are experts of concepts such as Regenerative Capitalism. Along the way there will be many investors, borrowers, and community leaders whose lives will intersect with First Green Bank.
Can a community bank in Central Florida help jumpstart a Regenerative Banking Movement in America? We'll just have to wait and see.