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Making a Community Fund here in Kingston

By Micah, Hélène and Aja

There is a lot of concern in Kingston, and rightly so, around wealth distribution, and also around power – who makes decisions.  We see inequity play out around us, across many areas of our lives and in our communities.

At GWI, we want to launch and support concrete ways to come together and make alternatives. We want to help build local economic power and encourage projects to democratize wealth across our region.

How do we do that? How can we nurture community resources, rooted in local values and stewarded by the people who live and work right here? What are ways we can bring abundance and collective thriving, from within the community? Who can we learn from and what models can we adapt for our own context?

These questions are driving us to home in on what we are calling “Rooted Resources”. For several years, we have been researching and discussing the possibilities of community-controlled funding and democratizing access to resources. Through our involvement with and support of the Hudson Valley Prosperity Network, we have learned about different ways that community members can be involved in community investment. This past spring, we hosted the Rooted Resources Festival that allowed us to expand our own definitions of “wealth” and our understanding of all the interconnected ways we can rebuild an economy that works for all. 

We are excited to announce that we’re taking the next step into action, by exploring the creation of a community-designed, community-controlled fund. 

The goal is the formation of a Kingston Community Fund, meaning a fund designed and run by the community of Kingston.

With this new project, we will focus on the city of Kingston, with the idea that a hyper-local fund might be one way to democratize access to resources.

So much is swirling in the background: the impact of the pandemic over the last two years, accompanied by an outpouring of support and mutual aid, and the quick deployment of federal and state emergency funds; the uptick in interest in Universal Basic Income; the growing awareness of the benefits of local currencies; the desire to reframe our lives away from monetizing everything and valuing different types of exchange; as well as the reality of inflation, housing and food insecurity, under-employment and unemployment.

Community funds are still relatively uncommon, especially ones where the power to decide where funding goes is left to actual community members. We plan to facilitate a journey with Kingston residents to explore examples of funds and unpack some of the systemic issues of money and power, in order to figure out how the people of Kingston want to distribute funding.

We cannot ignore a fear of scarcity that underlies the trauma of money – this is an experience of all who engage in a monetary exchange. So we know that trust is the most important building block in this process. We are starting by talking, connecting, to establish trust and shared curiosity.

Everyone is invited to our community meetings this fall, to talk about these ideas, and address what we mean by “fund”.

But to be clear: this is not a designed fund. We don’t have the answers. What a fund can be and how it functions will be determined by the members of the community who step into this work with us.

What gets created is up to the Kingston community. Will it be a loan fund, an investment fund, a grant fund, an emergency fund, some kind of hybrid? We don’t know: we’ll have to see what emerges. 

Our role at GWI is to facilitate this process of creating a fund, and we’ll bring our Just-Transition-aligned work around shared leadership and navigating conflict to the forefront. We believe in order to change the outcomes we also have to change the process. How we work together is just as important a part of democratizing our communities, wealth, and work as achieving the creation of a fund.

On the funding side, we are grateful to the Novo Foundation for their early support of this project, and look forward to working with them as initial funders for the Kingston Community Fund once it is created. We’re also actively looking for additional partners to support the development of this community fund and to join as initial funders.

We look forward to learning, growing, collaborating, and experimenting to bring this project to fruition, and we sincerely hope you will choose to join us. 

Visit the Community Fund page to see an outline what this journey might look like and more about upcoming events associated with this effort. We hope to see you there.


Do you want to get involved or do you have a question? We want to hear from you!

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