Climate Justice Alliance
Over the summer, CJA’s Our Power Loan Fund reached an important milestone-we made our first loan! The Our Power Loan Fund was developed as a vehicle through which to move capital away from the extractive economy and into a regenerative economy that shifts control to the people, advances ecological restoration, drives racial and social equity, and relocalizes most production and consumption. The capital itself is housed at Seed Commons, a democratically-governed cooperative of local, non-extractive revolving loan funds that invest in projects owned/operated by frontline communities to build economic democracy rooted in ecological integrity. Organizations can be awarded a loan through OPLF after completing an extensive application process, which includes our provision of technical support on business planning, that examines their values as an organization, the equity they bring, their finances, and business planning and viability.
Earthbound Building, Farm, & Forestry is a natural building collective of skilled crafts-people and farmers that was established in 2014, originally as a project of the Black Dirt Farm Collective (CJA member). Earthbound designs and builds sustainable farm infrastructure, natural buildings, and landscapes around the Mid-Atlantic region, making Just Transition real on the ground. Organizationally, Earthbound was shifting towards larger projects, and a great deal of their overhead went to the costs associated with transporting supplies. With a non-extractive loan from OPLF, they stand to reduce their overhead and raise efficiency by purchasing their own truck and additional supplies and equipment, providing full access and lowering rental fees incurred.
Over the course of the application process CJA supported Earthbound in varying capacities to strengthen their business plan, thereby improving their loan-readiness. Earthbound was provided with legal aid, payment for technical support that went toward bookkeeping, and financial counseling, all prior to their loan approval. Before the loan was made, a repayment schedule was devised by both sides that takes into account the time needed to generate a profit, and that requires repayment at a modest interest rate, with the ability to reconfigure the schedule, if needed. With the loan secured, Earthbound will acquire their truck, supplies, and equipment, enabling them to more easily accept multiple major projects, which will lead to their ability to meet net income projections and pay off the loan, which will, in turn, build capital for the fund.