It has been argued that the most powerful tool we have in living our values is how we, as individuals and institutions, use our money.

There are many ways individuals and families can use their money to advance their values. One way to use the tool of our money is to positively invest in organizations that share or promote our values. Having a local, sustainable, healthy food store is important to my family. So we invested in Sugar Beet Co-operative by making them a loan. 

Social investments are also important to us. So we loaned our money to put up 500 solar panels on the roof of a Chicago NGO. In addition to providing sustainable energy, our investment also provided us with a small income stream and a set of receipts for our charitable donations.

Institutions can also use the power of their money to advance their values. Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church used its invested funds to purchase solar energy. That also turned out to be a good financial choice, as the resulting savings on electricity out-performed the usual rate of return.

Sometimes the best way to use the tool of our money is to actively invest it only in those products or companies that are compatible with our values and to disinvest from those that are not. The Northern Illinois Conference United Methodist Foundation recently decided to do just that, said “(We) unite to declare that we must ultimately end the burning of fossil fuels, and we need, in the words of, to build 100% clean energy solutions that work for all,” in announcing a fossil fuel free investment fund.

These are just some examples of how you and your institution’s money can work in making a brighter future. To learn more about this topic, the Interfaith Green Network is hosting a panel discussion on Good Investments on Thursday, Nov. 8, 7-8:30 p.m., in the Oak Park Public Library Veterans Room. This program is co-sponsored by Green Community Connections, Seven Generations Ahead, and Faith in Place. The panel will feature the following experts:

 Matthew Blume, Appleseed Capital, will talk about fossil fuel divestments.

 Kristin Carlson Vogen (yes, former director of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation) now of the Chicago Community Trust, will discuss Impact Giving.  

 Jake Barnett, Graystone Consulting of Morgan Stanley, will talk about how individuals can use their invested dollars.

All are welcome, both individuals and representatives of institutions who want to use their investments to live out their individual and corporate values. Register at this link: or contact Dick Alton, Interfaith Green Network (

Dick Alton

Oak Park 

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