GREENWICH, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Capital Institute, a think tank founded by former Wall Street banker John Fullerton, dedicated to supporting the necessary transition to a more just, regenerative economic and financial system, today released a short documentary, “A Year in the Life of First Green Bank.” The film debuted November 10, at an event in New York City, where a screening was followed by a Q&A with Capital Institute’s Fullerton; Patagonia Chief Storyteller Vincent Stanley; Amalgamated Bank VP of Business Development Amir Kirkwood; First Green Bancorp Founder, Board Chairman & CEO Ken LaRoe; and Cathi Kim, Senior Analyst with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.
The film is a sober-eyed look at the behind-the-scenes drama of Capital Institute’s yearlong engagement with seasoned banker Ken LaRoe. After reading Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard’s book Let My People Go Surfing, LaRoe was inspired to pursue his passion for the environment by founding Florida’s first “green” bank in a conservative community undergoing rapid real estate development outside Orlando.
The film follows LaRoe as he steers a difficult course for the bank at the intersection of an extractive economy focused on short-term financial gain, and an emerging regenerative one that supports the long-term health of people and planet. As LaRoe struggles with his own, sometimes conflicting, personal goals for the bank, we also witness the external pressures he faces. We meet two of the bank’s largest investors who believe in the bank’s values but are nonetheless eager to cash out on their investment through a sale of the bank. We also encounter employees attracted to the bank’s mission who want to participate in a more collaborative working environment, and the mentors who seek to encourage LaRoe and his staff to embrace a more deeply regenerative business model.
David Korslund, a mentor to LaRoe and an advisor to the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, eloquently articulates the exciting possibilities as well as the challenges mission-driven community bankers like LaRoe face as they attempt to inject more holistic values into our dysfunctional financial system:
“The potential for sustainable banking exists in all American communities. This approach to banking has been shown to deliver not only competitive financial returns and growth, but also social returns. Nevertheless, a focus on sustainable banking for community banks creates a very real dilemma for owners and managers, where the traditional model has been to build, grow quickly, and sell for immediate profitability. It will be critical for investors to have a change in their mindset to focus on long-term and sustainable value creation rather than short-term profitability. This shift in paradigm to a regenerative banking and investing model will lead to value creation not only for society but also for investors and their future generations.”
Capital Institute’s documentary offers up no easy answers, concluding with an open-ended question about where First Green Bank is heading and whether it will ultimately succeed in its mission to be both profitable and values-driven. Ultimately, however, the film affirms the critical importance of the work First Green Bank is pursuing against all the odds and will resonate with any business that wants to go beyond a narrow interpretation of sustainability.
To read more about First Green Bank’s captivating journey and to watch the Capital Institute documentary, please visit http://regenerativebankproject.capitalinstitute.org.
About Capital Institute
Capital Institute is searching for a new narrative that will illuminate how our economy and financial system can operate to promote a more just, regenerative, and thus sustainable way of living on this earth. http://www.CapitalInstitute.org