Bourbonism! Or farms, food, fertility, the alchemy of finance and our terroir: thoughts from Slow Money national gathering 2014
By Michelle Greenwood (Slow Money SoCal, Orange County)
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said it, Bourbonism! He used it to conclude his portion of the first panel of the three day Slow Money National Conference. It was a sound bite, carefully crafted. But the three goals newly re-elected Mayor Fischer has embraced since starting in his previous term had rung true through his panel discussion. He continues to work to make Louisville a city of lifelong learning, a much healthier city and even a more compassionate community. His goals, vison and their evident realization for his city were, in a word, inspiring.
Our Slow Money national (actually, now international) audience moved to accept his word, bourbonism. We liked it and we liked his city. We found ourselves adopting the term with a laugh. But as the conference continued, we shifted to a deeper appreciation. It became a kind of rally cry – and perhaps justification – for the late night conversations and community in the quiet bars that surrounded the conference center. When the formal moments of each of the wonderful three days of our Conference came to their conclusion, we still had bourbonism.
The food and drink of a region resonating and echoing in the culture is what infuses a place with warmth and memories. For Louisville in the heart of Kentucky this was bourbon. For us visiting Louisville, this was their terroir.
Terroir is a sense of geography and place originally identified through wine but now extended to include other food and drink, chocolate and coffee. It is that set of special characteristics the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, while interacting with the plants and soil, combine to find expression in the drink and food of a given local.
Slow Food has done a lot to cultivate and share the term. Our Slow Food community members work to celebrate and discern the history of the food, its cultural relevance as well as recognizing the ways the chef, the baker, the vintner or the distiller temper and contribute to that unique expression of place.
Slow Money, as sister organization to Slow Food, is also nurturing the Slow Food meaning while curating and crafting a perhaps more robust meaning that includes the concepts of Slow Money. As Slow Money members, we listen, recognize and celebrate the service of our foodshed businesses to our local community, their amenity to farms, food and fertility. To this blend we seek to add a studied finance for an even richer sense of an alchemy of place. Commerce is recognized and understood as integral in the Slow Food community, but in Slow Money, it rises to an art form.
Did I learn a lot from my experience at the three day Slow Money National Conference? Absolutely. I learned from observation and experience. I also learned and was deeply inspired by innovative entrepreneurs from all over the country that are creating from their own sense of place the opportunities and solutions for our foodshed, our farmers, and our vulnerable populations. I was inspired by the visions of leaders both public and private. I was captivated by the ideas of land trusts, CDFIs, Coops and dual guarantee funds. It was an amazing three days that will inform the direction of our local chapter in the year to come. But it is the memories surrounding bourbonism, Louisville, their Southern Hospitality, downtown embrace, and quiet outskirts all wound up in the wonder of a growing sense of terroir – both theirs and ours — that will carry me forward as we go about implementing these ideas in the coming year.
Michelle Greenwood is a volunteer and serves as a Community Collaboration Director for Slow Money SoCal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.