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Posts Tagged ‘lending’

A nonprofit book service in Portland, Oregon, has recognized that “people living outside” are as likely to enjoy a book as people who live indoors.

Kirk Johnson writes in the NY Times, “A homeless man named Daniel was engrossed in a Barbara Kingsolver novel when his backpack was stolen recently, and Laura Moulton was determined to set things to right.

“Ms. Moulton, 44, an artist, writer and adjunct professor of creative nonfiction, did not know Daniel’s last name, his exact age, or really even how to find him — they had met only once. But she knew the novel, ‘Prodigal Summer,’ and that was a start. So, armed with a new copy of the book, off she went. Such is the life of a street librarian.

“This city has a deeply dyed liberal impulse beating in its veins around social and environmental causes, and a literary culture that has flourished like the blackberry thickets that mark misty Northwest woods. It is also one of the most bike-friendly, if not bike-crazed, urban spaces in the nation, as measured by commuters and bike lanes. All three of those forces are combined in Street Books, a nonprofit book service delivered by pedal-power for ‘people living outside,”’ as Ms. Moulton, the founder, describes the mission. …

“ ‘It’s not just a little novelty act — “Oh, that’s so Portland and cute,” ’ ” says Diana Rempe, a community psychologist. “Taking books to the streets, she said, sends the message that poor and marginalized people are not so different from the ‘us’ that defines the educated, literate mainstream of the city, whether in its hipsters, computer geeks or bankers.”

More here.

Photo: Thomas Patterson for The New York Times
Laura Moulton and Matt Tufaro in Portland, Ore. Ms. Moulton founded Street Books, a nonprofit book service for “people living outside.”

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Public banks can be helpful in emergencies, and what with hurricanes, tornadoes, and all, we sure seem to have a lot of emergencies.

Grand Forks, North Dakota, figured this out after one of their floods. Most banks have to make sure their loans meet the tough safety and soundness requirements of regulators, so they may not come through fast enough for people trying to rebuild after a disaster. Grand Forks isn’t relying on them.

Kelly McCartney at Shareable (by way of the Christian Science Monitor) says that the Public Banking Institute blog at WordPress “cites a powerful example of how a public bank can help a city bounce back from a devastating natural disaster. As Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts unfold, there’s a lesson from history about the role of strong local financial institutions in increasing urban resilience.

“In April of 1997, Grand Forks, North Dakota, was hit by record flooding and major fires that put the city’s future in jeopardy. One of the first economic responders was the Bank of North Dakota (BND), currently the only public bank in the United States.

“What’s a public bank, you ask? Public banks are owned by citizens through their government. They have a public interest mission, are dedicated to funding local development, and plow profits back into the state treasury to fund social programs and cover deficits. Rather than competing with private banks, BND partners with them to meet the needs of North Dakotans. …

“As a public bank, BND was able to respond to the ’97 flood in ways that a privately owned bank could not …

“Right after the flood, the Bank of North Dakota got to work, established a disaster relief loan fund, set aside $5 million to assist flood victims, and set up additional credit lines of around $70 million.” More.

Photograph: Reuters/File
Residents of Grand Forks, N.D., carry their pet dog to safety in the shovel of a frontloader April 20, 1997. The more than 50,000 residents of the city were forced to evacuate as the Red River reached 25 feet above flood level. A public bank, owned by citizens, was a key player in the city’s recovery.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds a wide range of activities to boost the economic strength of small towns and rural areas. It doesn’t just fund farmers, although farmers may benefit from a more vibrant rural economy.

To that point, here’s an story from the Philadelphia Inquirer by Howard Shapiro on how the USDA is helping a New Jersey theater.

“A little semiprofessional theater amid the farmland of Hammonton, N.J., has become the beneficiary of more than a half-million dollars in grants and low-interest loans from a most unlikely arts angel: the U.S. Department of Agriculture. …

“The Agriculture Department money is coming directly to the theater in three acts, so to speak: a $23,000 grant to improve its historic building and its ticketing and computer programming; an $89,000 20-year loan at 3.5 percent interest, mainly to enhance stage equipment; and a 30-year loan of $482,000 at 3.38 percent interest, to buy its building.

” ‘It’s an unusual project for the USDA to finance,’ said Howard Henderson, the department’s rural-development director for New Jersey. “This is a fascinating way we’ve been able to benefit a rural community.’

“The Rural Development program, financed by Congress, exists to strengthen or help establish facilities in rural communities that will improve downtowns, provide services, and encourage local activities. But money usually goes to such projects as firehouse restoration or, as in New Jersey’s northern Sussex County, a plan for hospice units.”

The Eagle Theatre applied for the money because, according to Henderson, everyone around Hammonton knows how active the USDA has been in supporting growth. More.

Photograph: http://theeagletheatre.com/about-us/

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