I decided to start Capital Good Fund (CGF) in response to the 2008 financial collapse because I feel that, in the face of calamity, it is far better to take action than to lament. From day one–indeed, from the time I moved to Providence, RI for a masters program in environmental studies at Brown–my interest has been the intersection of poverty and the environment (my masters thesis deals with this very topic–you can check it out here). Why? Because it turns out that the poor bear the brunt of environmental destruction. Consider this: low-income Americans spend 17% of their income on energy, compared to 4% for the rest of the population. This makes them far more vulnerable to energy price volatility. At the same time, low-income families are more likely to live in neighborhoods with poor indoor and outdoor air quality. What’s more, by virtue of more often living in low-lying areas, they are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change (something Hurricane Katrina clearly demonstrated) and less able to evacuate from and rebuild after a storm.
Unfortunately, for the first couple of years as Executive Director of CGF, I’ve had to focus my efforts on the more immediate challenges of fundraising, building infrastructure, developing policies and procedures, and so on. In addition, I’ve had to accept that just tackling poverty is hard enough without incorporating an environmental justice component. That said, I never gave up on the idea of using equitable financing in order to tackle poverty and redress environmental degradation.