Applied imagination

Bank of Nature began as a challenge to radically rethink humanity’s relationship to nature and to imagine a world already made sustainable. It is rooted in the acknowledgment of the failure of government and industry to act effectively on climate and other crises that require action at the scale of climate. And, acknowledgment of their failure to inspire.

If we don’t imagine it, we can’t build it.

Bank of Nature is imagination applied to the tools we have at hand, namely the untapped potential of fiduciaries and fiduciary finance to pay for endgame sustainability.

As a work of applied imagination, Bank of Nature is a design phase of a real possibility: That we can challenge outmoded convention, reclaim our agency and take back our place in nature. Frustration in inaction at scale is a failure of imagination action at scale — and, by extension, where we hold the power to execute that vision.

We imagine it means a society restructured to add a proxy for nature.

Can nature be a bank? We don’t treat it like a bank — more like a smorgasbord. If nature were an actual bank, how would you save money or borrow? What terms would you accept? Can nature foreclose?

Of course, nature doesn’t care. A proxy for nature, a new social construct, should care. We imagine new management of our global crises through a proxy for nature that gives nature that status of a bank and all the terms that come with that.

We already take from nature through an extractive economy that gets rich while nature gets poor. The loss of environment is one price and the loss of human dignity is another. Growth at all costs is a recipe for global crises  It’s not hard to broaden the bank metaphor… that nature, through the impacts of climate change, is collecting on a debt.

If we imagine nature as a bank, we can begin to see how it is finite and only as big as we save, invest and build. Withdrawals of nature take on new meaning that we imagine can be applied to a proxy working with the mission of growing through a two-way, human-nature banking-like partnership: Terms, penalties, fees, interest.

How is such a bank capitalized? Imagine how money might work as a unifying force. What money today has a mission?

Fiduciary money, the tens of trillions of shared savings aggregated into pensions and endowments, have the imperative to live forever. That has implications for future pension members living in a climate-changed world. Do fiduciaries have obligations to them and what are they doing, as trustees, to protect those future members and to foster intergenerational loyalty?

It’s inspiration for a good Anthropocene and endgame sustainability.

Thank you to Arizona State University and its Center for Science and Imagination for the fellowship support to get our design initiative launched.

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