It’s More Than Just Money

March 27, 2015 in Inside SWS

Last Saturday evening over 200 parents, faculty, staff, grandparents and friends of SWS gathered at the Mountaineers Club for our annual Inspire auction. Four years into this endeavor, the event continues to evolve, as we try to balance two goals: offering a welcoming and inclusive opportunity for people to enjoy being together, and raising money for the school. Since planting the seed for Inspire in the fall of 2011, volunteers have pressed me to answer the question, “Is this about friendraising or fundraising?” To their consternation I’m afraid, I have consistently answered “both.” Last weekend when nearly every bidder card in the room was raised high in support of our faculty, and guests were smiling broadly and applauding one another’s generosity, it affirmed for me that we can indeed have what John Bloom, Senior Director of Organizational Culture at the Rudolf Steiner Foundation, would call “a heart-centered relationship with money.”

When I was in college and home for the holiday break, my father would predictably interrogate me (or so it felt) about the state of my finances. I worked to support myself while in school, and he contributed to my tuition. In this terse conversation he would remind me that it was my responsibility to plan prudently, and that he would not bail me out should I fritter away my hard earned money. Then like clockwork, on the morning of my departure back to school, my father would slip an envelope under the door of my room with a hundred dollar bill in it. It was his way of saying, “I love you and care about you.”

John Bloom is a thought leader in the field of social finance, writing extensively about how money and spirit intersect in today’s materialistic world. He sadly notes that, “we are entranced with capital and disconnected from our hearts. This discord is a result of the inherent nature of capital, so centered as it is in the head… It looks like a widening gap between wealth and poverty, and in the inner world a disintegration of beliefs, values and behavioral decisions.” In response, Bloom offers an imagination of a heart-centered economy, “one motivated by continuous circulation, connection, caring and cognizant of each person’s dignity and destiny.” He inspires hope with the reminder that while we may earn a living through our capacity to contribute to society, “what we earn does not constitute a life. Money is but one thread in this story; hopefully as we use it in alignment with our values, it becomes meaningful through what it makes possible.”

Hopefully the impulse to raise that bid card Saturday night came from the heart, much like my father’s gesture as I headed to the airport. These gifts, whether to institutions or another human being, give meaning and value to what are otherwise financial transactions. They offer a recognition and celebration of our dependence on one another and the interdependence of our economic and spiritual lives. In these moments, we get a glimpse of the new economic story Bloom urges us to craft – one that is heart-centered, moral and joyful. It is a lofty and inspiring goal, worthy of conversation and contemplation.

With gratitude to all our community members who give so generously from the heart!


Published in the Connection from 3.27.15