Tackling the Big Picture: Mutualism in Relationships and Enterprise

Evan Thornley delivers strong call to action for mutualism and co-operative enterprise at Asia-Pacific Impact Investment Summit

Friend of Ethical Fields, Evan Thornley, delivered a powerful, insightful, must-read speech on Monday 13th November in Sydney, at the Asia-Pacific Impact Investment Summit. Sharing from his own life and learning journey, Evan challenged the impact investment community to direct their energies – and funds – towards enterprises that put people and their relationships at the centre.

In his speech, Evan connects the dots in our crumbling social and economic systems to argue forcefully for rebuilding both through mutualism and cooperative enterprise.

You can find the speech here.

From an Ethical Fields perspective, we share Evan’s view that the neoliberal paradigm that has dominated our corporate and government spheres for too long have been a complete failure, and worse, have atomised our societies and broken bonds of mutual humanity in the name of making us into individual consumer units.

The impact of this is devastating.

Rising inequality and the early impacts of climate change are hitting us all just as our democractic and societal institutions are crumbling and the ‘social contract’ is in tatters. In this context, technology ventures fuelled on toxic capitalism and hero founders is the last thing we need.

Our ambition – building businesses and institutions in the agriculture and forestry space that recapture mutualism, producer ownership, distributed capital and technology that serves people and planet – is to demonstrate and stimulate successful, attractive alternatives to such toxic models that will fuel further inequality and breakdown of our communities.

While focusing our attention on the agriculture and forestry sectors, we are also investing in initiatives that serve the world more broadly, such as Incubator.coop and our Data Co-op Council idea that is just getting going. Such initiatives can in their own right help to enable more cooperative enterprises and social movements.

Read Evan’s speech. You won’t regret it. And if you are keen to get involved with what we are doing, get in touch.

** Addendum: We’ve been surprised, and a little disheartened, at some of the reactions to Evan’s speech, concern over Evan’s invitation to the impact investment community to get involved with cooperatives and mutuals, and other related ‘conflicts’ within the social enterprise, mutuals and co-ops sector that the virality of the speech and its message has surfaced.

Here at Ethical Fields, we are committed to an inclusive approach to addressing what are all at once urgent, complex and large challenges in front of us. We are pragmatic and committed to continually learning and improving.  We know that its going to take as many of us as possible, working together, to make the kind of social and economic transformations required if the majority of people on our planet are to thrive. As such, we welcome new and unique – even dissenting – voices, views, collaborators and partners to our efforts. Together, we can blend the best of what we know from the past with what we are learning and experimenting with today to create a liveable, desirable future. 

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