Philadelphia Regional & Independent
Stock Exchange (PRAISE):
Investing in Community
by Paul Glover
Everybody wants more money so they can enjoy life, send kids to
college and retire well. To achieve these, over 40% of American households
have invested in stocks and bonds.
But Wall Street is risky and even destructive. Bull markets lure
the middle class to bet heavily then, often, their money dissolves. $1,000
worth of Nortel stock one year ago now yields $13.00. Enron's $1,000 is
now $41; Worldcom lost $995 of the thousand. These tophat crooks can't be
controlled: the watchdog workload of the Securities & Exchange Commission
grew by 80% between 1991-2000 while staff grew just 20%.
Even when the market's rising, only 3% of trading is essentials
like food and fuel. Warmaking, prisons, traffic accidents and
environmental depletion are profitable, while neighborhoods and family
Where's a safer place to invest? Many now realize that unless the
global economy is based on a world of stable communities amid healthy
environments, trading stable currencies, then bank accounts are just
worthless big numbers. Getting reliably rich means investing in community.
So let the big boys shoot craps with their billions-- we can bring
our pensions and savings home to rebuild America, starting in Ithaca.
Local wealth will make our city an outstanding place to raise kids and
retire, providing steady friends, child care and home care; vacations &
fun; good healthy food, water & air; civic beauty; least crime. Investors
large and small can systematically create a mutual enterprise system
providing us retirement equity transferable to other communities with
Creating these communities, to ensure our personal security within
a safer world, requires new kinds of investment, managed by people we trust
and control-- fellow Philadelphians whose homes and jobs depend on PRAISE local
business development. New programs are beginning which will retain wealth locally, stimulate thousands
of creative jobs, meet all basic needs, share power with lower-income residents,
repair the environment, and distinguish Ithaca as one of the most beautiful
cities in the Americas.
The price tag for these programs, $110 million, was to have been
raised from my MegaLotto winnings (July 6), but that door did not open.
Where else does $110 million come from? Roughly, that's one
percent of total annual wages & salaries earned in Tompkins County, times
ten years. It's three times the City of Ithaca's budget. It's the
County's budget. It's 3% of Cornell's endowment. It's the wealth Bill
Gates has gained on a good day. It's two minutes of additional federal
How could we raise this money without relying on the lottery or
taxes? The Philadelphia Regional and Independent Stock Exchange (PRAISE) will enable a wide range of
private investors to invest safely in Ithaca to build genuine wealth and
security. Everyone, rich and poor, has some type of capital required--
skills, tools, time, topsoil, property, cash. PRAISE pools this capital,
defines program RFPs, issues bonds and negotiables, selects contractors,
provides grants and loans to the businesses described below, monitors
program progress, redeems bonds by issuing business notes, defines the
transferability of bonds.
Here are the details:
What are guiding principles?
How is PRAISE different than a Community Development Corporation?
What companies does it invest in?
What do investors get?
How is the corporation structured?
Who manages it?
How is community progress measured?
What are Philadelphia's new economic indicators?
How related to government?
How do we begin?
GUIDING PRINCIPLES? This Mutual Enterprise System retains and expands
wealth to provide jobs that clean the environment. It converts capital
into harmless and beneficial efforts. It provides basic benefits for all,
and special benefits for investors. It transfers technological and
economic power to lower-income residents, building relevant skills. Public benefit
is personal benefit, whether we're rich or poor.
HOW IS PRAISE DIFFERENT than a standard stock market or Community Development Corporation?
* investments may be made with other than dollars
* repays investors and donors
* repays with regional bonds/notes redeemable for services and goods
* pays half of interest in advance
* elects seats on the Exchange by community rather than by purchase or appointment
* businesses are selected which rely on technologies manageable by
neighborhoods rather than centralized expertise/machinery, and which reduce pollution
* businesses are selected which transfer economic power to
community v. agencies which help the poor stay poor
* relies on community-based market indicators set by the Securities
and Ecologies Commission (SEC) rather than narrower profit/loss measures
* monetizes tools, skills, crops, soil, volunteer hours, labor
hours, development rights transferred (incentive for buyer as well as
seller), negawatts, restraint of childbirth, locally-made warranty
* regulates transfers of negotiables/bonds among the PRAISE programs
as services available.
WHAT DO INVESTORS GET? Transferable equity in community enterprises that
provide secure sources of food, fuel, housing. Interest earned is community interest, in order to provide
investors immediate return, fun, food, health, housing, keys to city,
gratitude, inheritance, retirement security, in the form of negotiables,
bonds, services, goods. (SEC) defines, valuates, and
compiles indicators of local economic health, including such measures as:
small farm base, soil depth & rainfall; shopping locally; population
stability, birth rate & age distribution; insulation & fireproofing; solar,
wind & hydro generation; bike & transit useage; employment & crime.
Creates a monthly index based on the above.
Credits issued are valued according to priorities set by PRAISE.
Investors gain ownership that's anchored to region to benefit a community which includes
themselves. Stocks in such companies transferable benefits to affiliated
They receive community Interest in the form of discounts (in advance) & services
(including municipal non-utility), standard accrual, authority and honors.
Largest investors are repaid not only directly by direct
investment, but by the new markets rising from energy efficiency,
discretionary spending, and ecotourism.
Thus, ultimately, investors get to live well in a good community.
They provide a heritage for their children and grandchildren. They serve
America and the world.
EXAMPLE: Joe buys $500 of four-year PRAISE bonds. He receives
immediate 8% Community Interest ($40) in the form of discount (>25%)
coupons provided by local businesses which themselves receive long-term
PRAISE bonds at half the value of the discount given.
EXAMPLE: Jessie volunteers 50 hours installing insulation and
receives $500 of PRAISE bonds. Interest and principal are repaid as above.
EXAMPLE: Ephraim sells a building to PRAISE for $150,000 of PRAISE bonds.
EXAMPLE: Elana transfers property development rights valued at
$50,000 to PRAISE for a tax deduction plus $10,000 of PRAISE bonds.
As PRAISE businesses develop and issue their own store notes
(regulated by PRAISE), these investors may select to redeem some of their PRAISE
bonds for store notes, or negawatts, or local currency, at principle + another 8%
interest ($40). Total interest 16%.
The same applies to those who invest volunteer hours doing work
needed by any PRAISE business. Hours of labor are paid with PRAISE bonds
redeemable for PRAISE goods and services as available.
WHAT COMPANIES? Energy conservation is the foundation of economic
development. Millions of dollars yearly kept in Philadelphia, not paid to PECO,
is money which can be spent here to stimulate new enterprises and jobs that
serve our broader aims. Other basics, like food, water, housing, health
care and transportation are top priorities.
Insulation: countywide would cut our heating/cooling bills by over
80%, giving us discretionary income to support local businesses & farms,
thus creating new jobs & strengthening local culture. The foundation of
* Superwindows are translucent walls with R20 and higher.
* Cogeneration uses nearly all of otherPRAISE wasted natural gas and heat.
* Retrofit of wall and attics cuts heating/cooling bills by 80%.
* Alt energy co-ops: solar, wind, hydro
* Urban Woodlot/Forest
FOOD growing locally and converting harvests into pasta, canned goods &
* Food Processing Center: expands local agriculture by enabling
farmers to grow for more than the seasonal market.
* Bulk Food Center sells the above below commercial rates
* Edible Parks and orchards invite free harvest.
* Waterless Toilets: replace toxic sewage sludge w/clean, sweet-smelling fertilizer. No more pooping into clean water.
* Water Recharge Basins insulate us from drought.
Trollies: connecting neighborhoods car-free. More than transportation, ultralight
rail cars can be handcrafted with inlay wood, stained glass, neon
Liberty Bell, musicians on board. Big boost to tourism & transit.
* Bike lanes & paths would allow us to move safely without traffic
jams & pollution. They permit emergency vehicles to move freely.
* Bicycle HPUV manufacture
* Street Reclamation
HOUSING: Ownership stabilizes neighborhoods, strengthens community
participation. Co-housing & Retirement Co-ops: makes life less costly, more
energy-efficient and more friendly.
JOBS & TRADE
* Import Replacement Center: barter, trade, bank: connects regional
skills & tools to create flexible manufacturing networks that capture
* Re-Use Center & Warehouse capture useful goods and materials that
would be tossed into dumps.
* Re-Manufacturing Center utilizes component parts from non-reusable items
* Incubator for community-based ecological enterprises reduces
operating costs for each enterprise
* Retail outles for prototypes test markets the above
* Dream Come True Job Center connects people to the regional
resources that make our wildest hopes real.
Alternative healing center rely on natural strength and remedies to
promote wellness, prevent illness, and revive.
* Health Fund allows us to self-insure, keeping $50 million/year
insurance payments in this county instead of wasting it on HMOs.
* Medical/dental clinic co-op/s provide free care for low-income
* Teaching the above refines and spreads these processes
* Community meeting spaces for congresses ensure fullest public participation
Art: mosaics, murals
HOW IS PRAISE STRUCTURED?
Guided by elected board of directors subject to
referenda initiated by investors or community. Management is organized so
that community has direct intervention, expertise is rotated rather than
entrenched, new expertise develops reflecting ever-changing circumstances,
main incentive is service.
* each shareholder has one vote regardless of investment size
* each community member has one vote
* democratically elected boards
* Celebrate citizens' right to referendum, recall and congress
(special meetings). Constrains tendency of any organization to become
bureaucratized and ingrown, serving staff more than the public. Staff must
agree to set examples: to be paid regional credits, live simply,
compensated by continual revolution
* Local woodlots and wetland larger than 440ft.sq. have total 25%
of votes on any proposal to cut or drain them. They vote no on such
EACH BUSINESS AGREES TO THE FOLLOWING:
1. maximum salary 2 times lowest paid. Maximum pay 2 times livable wage. Management and staff are motivated by mission, satisfied with right livelihood, paid in-kind & regional credits
2. employees must reside within the community
3. local sourcing: RFP for machines, raw materials, design, labor to maximum possible
4. adaptive re-use of buildings. No new footprint or paving expansion.
5. redeem PRAISE stock
6. one vote per resident stockholder
7. one vote per resident
8. board term limits: former voting members invited to remain as elders
9. subject to shareholder and community right to referendum
10. businesses can borrow against the general fund and repay it as donated in sequence or sell services
11. provide public accounting of credits issued
12. redistribute to PRAISE upon dissolution
13. links to related programs worldwide
Each business could operate with separate 501(c)3. But under PRAISE umbrella, they
1. coordinate skills, tools, staffs, urban land use
2. share grants, attract investors
3. issue/redeem credits interchangeably among themselves to broaden return on investment and attraction of bonds
4. gain greater cultural impact as part of larger process:
5. share powers of CDC in NYS
HOW IS COMMUNITY PROGRESS MEASURED?
The SECURITIES AND ECOLOGIES COMMISSION
SEC ventures a specific formula for calculating an indexed increase
or decline of sustainable local economy, based on these indicators.
Valuations are weighted relative to one another according to longrange
communitywide impact. They are constantly adjusted to create a more full
and balanced portrait of the local economy. The SEC database plugs in the
numbers, calculates values, subtotals and total. Raw data are obtained by
regular arrangement with relevant agencies or through FOIA. Some are fixed
infrastructure calculations; others change monthly, quarterly,
semiannually, annually or decenially. Best estimates may be sufficient. See Philadelphia's New Economic Indicators
SEC issues a biennial Seventh Generation report, projecting the
impact of trends upon Philadelphians 200 years hence. SEC submits suggested
indicator revisions for public discussion.
The five members of the SEC are elected to three year terms.
Values may be updated by local university classes, and other volunteers.
GOVERNMENT RELATIONS: gradually taking over certain government functions on a
nonprofit direct democratic basis; volunteers earning community equity
replace taxes collected by force. To the extent govt approval has been
mandated to establish, fund and regulate, it's essential to have public
officials and staff who welcome changes of these types. PRAISE seeks to
elect citizens who will provide supportive interface with state/federal.
CONCLUSION: Through PRAISE investment, Philadelphia becomes fully democratic intentional community where
privacy and ownership are secured, while social spaces are plentiful. Most
citizens participate as neighbors in mutual aid associations which
entitle them to free and low cost health care, fresh local organic
food, living in homes which are so well insulated that costs for heating
and cooling are mild. Philadelphians are able to get around town on foot, by
bike, trolley, buses. Streets safe and quiet but for children playing.
Mosaic sidewalks and murals. Cayuga Lake becomes so clean again that it's full of fish
for those who eat them.
Taken together, these will allow us to relax in a beautiful,
exciting community, raising the standard of living while lowering the cost
of living & setting examples for the whole country. Philadelphia will become a vast satisfaction to residents and powerful example to
HOW DOES PRAISE BEGIN?
* public meeting to form 501(c)3 to operate within Pennsylvania Associations Law and
Federal SEC regulations
* create bylaws
* elect board
* solicit donations and investments
* prioritize utilization of funds
* issue RFPs to form new businesses
* SEC public meetings elect first members and gather data
REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS
In all cases, priority to local workers and materials, local/regional
manufacture, accepting regional/local credits:
ENERGY GENERATION & CONSERVATION to provide fuels w/out global warming:
* windows: >R19: standard & irregular sizes, export projections
* walls: >R50: most durable yet biodegradable, lightweight, nontoxic, water- & fire-resistant
* attic: >R50: most durable yet biodegradable, lightweight, nontoxic, water- & fire-resistant
* heat exchangers
---SOLAR ELECTRIC (NISEG) RFP: photovoltaic arrays, collectors, shingles:
maximum efficiency, durability, kwh cost, least toxic manufacture: inputs & wastes, installers
---COGENERATION: district/neighborhood/business/institutional HVAC
---NATURAL GAS IN CITY RFP: locate, define capacity, define quality,
equipment for filtering, calculate 500-year supply ration, define
distribution district for maximum efficiency
TROLLEY: More than transportation, ultralight rail cars
would be handcrafted with inlay wood, stained glass, neon Liberty Bell,
musicians on board. Big boost to tourism & transit.
* RFP: installation and maintenance of standard guage trackage,
installation and maintenance of electric wires, staff (conductors, repair,
maintenance, promotion), garage & shop, tools & spare parts, signage,
promotion, insurance, dedicated hydroelectric, cogeneration, district,
elected Philadelphia Trolley Authority board: grants, referenda
---FOOD PROCESSING CENTER RFP
---BULK FOOD CENTER RFP
---URBAN ORCHARDS RFP
* RFP: single family, duplex, apartment building w/NSF approval, piping &
solar-powered venilators, installation, monitoring
WATER RECHARGE BASINS
* RFP: locate, define capacity, design spreading systems: wells, pumps, EIS
scope: stability of strata, salinity impact
* retrofit design & costs to join adjacent houses, materials inventory:
local materials, soundproofing, limited equity
SOUNDPROOFING enables people to live at greater density with less stress.
* RFP: lightweight, ease of installation
IMPORT REPLACEMENT CENTER
Community currencies could donate local money at-cost to local government &
nonprofits, enabling millions of dollars of services to be provided without raising taxes & without paying interest on bonds. HOURS would be
welcome everywhere when government agrees to accept them for tax payment.
The author is a consultant for community economic development. Your comments and suggestions are welcome: [email protected]