What Could Possibly Go Right?: Episode 99 Fran Korten

May 1, 2023

Show Notes

Fran Korten is former executive director, publisher and contributing editor for YES! Magazine, where she wrote about opportunities to advance a progressive agenda in politics, economics, and the environment. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington, with her husband, author David Korten.

She answers the question of “What Could Possibly Go Right?” with thoughts including:

  • The encouraging increase in voter turnout, especially amongst younger people
  • The learnings we can take from the “people over profit” Mondragon model in Spain’s Basque region
  • The growing awareness of our global interconnectedness, especially in the face of climate change
  • The benefits of ranked choice voting in elections, resulting in more collaboration and civil dialogue in the political process
  • The positive shift in our respect for Indigenous people


  • David Korten, author – davidkorten.org
  • The Civics Center & the Ready to Vote Coalition – thecivicscenter.org
  • Suzanne Simard, world-leading forest ecologist

Connect with Fran Korten

Twitter: twitter.com/fkorten


Fran Korten: Times change. They are changing. We can contribute and we have to hold that awareness in our mind to give us the energy to actually make the change that’s possible.

Vicki Robin: Vicki Robin here, host of What Could Possibly Go Right. We interview cultural scouts, people who see far and serve the common good, and social artists, those creative inventive people who vision change and act. We ask our guests to respond to just one question in the face of all that seems to be going awry, what could possibly go right?

We want them to help us see more clearly so we all can act more courageously in service to the common good. Today’s guest is Fran Korten. She may not be as familiar as her visionary author husband David Korten. His book, When Corporations Rule The World inspired many people in the WTO protests of 1999.

And other books have come along that have guided us towards a living economy, for a living Earth. Fran is a wise, practical, clear-eyed, and kind systems thinker, changemaker, and leader. For nearly two decades, she was executive director and publisher of Yes Magazine. And before that she worked as a program officer for the Ford Foundation in Manila and Jakarta.

She’s now a proud citizen and volunteer. She is a mother and a grandmother and a longtime friend. So here’s my lengthy, fascinating conversation with Fran Korten.

Vicki Robin: Welcome Fran Korten to What Could Possibly Go Right? In preparing for this conversation, I sort of went down the Fran Korten memory lane.

I first met you when you’d moved on from your Ford Foundation work in Southeast Asia. I remember your genius as you served communities across many islands and much distance in creating cooperative networks among grantees rather than just dispersing multiple grants. So fast forward to being with you at the inception of your leadership in Building Yes magazine, from a small leadership to a popular multicultural deep dive quarterly that usually centers marginalized people.

As publisher, I watched you navigate that transformation step by step, and I remember you saying your passion is good governance, helping systems run smoothly and stay the course. Then I watched you turn this system over to good new leadership and enter a new time as a citizen using your time to work for change.

There are so many threads you might pick up on from this narration. Funding that builds systems rather than silos. Transitioning organizations from patriarchal to inclusive, collaborative, and empowering and the power of being outside the system as a citizen. Nobody’s special in movements for change.

I have learned from you for over 30 years, Fran, my work is better because you’ve advised me whether you knew it or not. And here we are at a time when good governance, cooperation, and humbly being part of the team of team human is crucial. So I’m looking forward to being inspired once again. And here’s my question.

In the midst of all that seems to be going awry, Fran, what could possibly go right?

Fran Korten: That’s a humbling introduction. So I will have to say that I’ve appreciated my friendship with you and I appreciate this podcast that you do because the media, as we all know, thrives on the negative.

And it influences the way we think about the world in basically an unfortunate way. So we need these positive voices. We need what could possibly go, right? We need Yes magazine. We need folks who are willing to say, wait, wait. Yes, a whole lot’s going wrong. Of course. It always is, and a whole lot is going right.

So we need to talk about what’s going right, primarily to balance what’s being said by our media, what we hear from our media, but also to give us the energy to add to it and to realize. That times change. They are changing. We can contribute and we have to hold that awareness in our mind to give us the energy to actually make the change that’s possible.

So what could possibly go right? Well, I wanna change your question. So not what would possibly go right, but what is going right? So I look around and I just see so many things that are going right now. I’m not naive. I know. That we’re wrecking the planet. I know that we have incredible inequality.

I know we have racism, but I also see many, many trends that give me a lot of hope for where we’re going. So I could name a lot of them, but let’s focus on a few. So what I wanna mention is that young people are turning out to vote. In the 2022 election, we had the second highest turnout of young people that we’ve had in three decades, 30 years.

Why? Well, abortion is a big one. So in some ways the Supreme Court did us a favor cuz it’s really turning out the young people. But climate change is another one. It’s kinda like, Hey, we gotta do some stuff or my future doesn’t look so good. And another one that has captured the imagination of our young people is the attack on democracy.

So there are many other issues too, but those are three that are helping drive this unusually high turnout from young people. So I find that very encouraging. Young people have made a difference. If you look at the data on the election of John Federman to the Senate from Pennsylvania. Young people were like 70% for him, and it was such a close election.

That’s it, makes a difference. And the same was true for Tony Evers as governor of Michigan, which gave Michigan this trifecta of both houses of their legislature and the governorship, and they’re doing all kinds of things as a result. So these voters make a difference. And it’s interesting that what causes them to make a difference and when do they vote?

Well, Dave and I give some money to a group called the Civics Center. That’s the plural, the Civics Center, because their work is to encourage schools to register the seniors to vote. So they point out that before the 2024 election from the time right now, 8 million young people will turn 18. 8 million.

Now, if all those eight, 8 million registered to vote, that would be good. Because the data show that once a young person registers the likelihood that they will actually vote is extremely high, like 80%. And the likelihood they’ll vote for things that I like. Is also very high. So yeah, the Civic Center is working on getting schools to include more education about voting.

And some schools even register their seniors to vote. So anyway, It’s young people are giving me some hope and I think it’s one of the trends that is a positive one about what could possibly go right.

Vicki Robin: I’m interested in your other trends, but I’ll just say right now it’s like I know a lot of young people who are, they’re just disgusted. They’re going through the motions. Maybe they have jobs, maybe they don’t, and it’s just, well, late stage capitalism, they’ve pulled back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz and they know that it’s sort of rotten in there. So they don’t engage.

And, what I’m hearing from you is, and I don’t blame them, that’s a horrible thing to look in the eye of. But in a way I hear you saying you don’t know how things would turn out had you engaged. It’s not that If you engage, it’s gonna get better.

Maybe not, but you have no idea. It’s like the future has not been written yet. There’s, there are like 50 storylines that if they don’t come together in that one thing, the audience is gonna like rebel cuz they’re all heading into this sort of overshoot.

But we don’t know. And also the activity of engaging rather than disengaging makes a difference in the individual about what they choose to do.

Fran Korten: Right, right. Yeah. So certainly I’m aware of the polling data that showed that, half the young people feel that the system’s so rotten. It’s hopeless. But.

There are all those others. And the turnout in the 2022 election was 27%, so over a fourth. And my hunch is that could nudge on up substantially, cuz that was a midterm election, right? So I think another thing that’s interesting is that it’s turning out that state legislatures are actually quite powerful, and I think most of us have not focused much on state legislatures.

And a lot of people don’t even know who their state legislators are, but now we’re realizing, hey, those things are really important. They’re gonna determine whether or not you have access to an abortion. They’re gonna determine whether your state takes action on climate change. They’re gonna take action on how you vote.

So the vantage here is it’s more local, so your sense of your power goes up. So anyway, I’m going to transition to my next thing because you talked about young people kind of saying this late stage capitalism is so not working, that it’s hopeless. Right. So one of the things I like to do is to figure out where something it really is working that shows there is another model.

And I am going to talk about the Basque region in Spain, which is a remarkable place cause it’s not so small. This is not a little tiny pilot project. It’s a region of 2 million people where people are prosperous. The environment is healthy. People have jobs, and the big reason behind it is the Mondragon cooperatives.

Now, Mondragon started really small 70 years ago, but it got big. It has a hundred businesses. It has its own bank, it has a university complex. It has over 80,000 employees, and it has annual revenue of over 15 billion. So this is not a little small pilot project, but it has some remarkable features.

So it’s worker owned, worker owned, cooperative. Where one person gets one vote, if you’re the CEO, you have one vote. If you’re the newest youngest member, you have one vote and their motto is People over profit. So here is an entity operating in the capitalistic world, in this late capitalism world that so many are discouraged by, but it’s not socialism, it isn’t government owned, it’s worker owned, and that makes a tremendous difference.

So of course if it’s worker owned, are you going to care about maternity leave? Are you going to care about what happens if your business fails? So a huge test for Mondragon was of course, this pandemic when their sales plummeted.

They didn’t fire a single person. Not a single person. What they did do is they did retraining. If one business failed and one really big business did fail it was in the appliance business. Appliances weren’t selling, and they retrained those people and they put ’em someplace else that was still functioning.

And the group as a whole agreed to reduce their own salaries. I think it was by about 4%. Not a lot, but just enough to free up some money to be able to make sure that everybody stayed employed who wanted to be employed. So, What this tells us is it’s possible, folks. It is possible. And of course what we’re seeing is the spread of worker owned cooperatives very slowly, I will say here in the United States.

But it is growing. And as people learn more about examples, which are not tiny, It’s not just some bakery. It’s significant and it can change the nature of the place you live. And what’s gone on in the Basque region is that lots and lots of other cooperatives, worker-owned cooperatives have also arisen.

So people have kind of gotten the idea, Hey, look, look what they’re doing. We can do it too. So the whole Basque region of 2 million people is largely run on local ownership and worker ownership. So it’s a remarkable region that tells us it can be done. It can be done.

Vicki Robin: Can I intervene here just for a sec and ask you. I mean, the United States, our system is tilted in such a way. There’s more backstory story to Mondragon, that there’s this inspired priest, the origin story is always very interesting about who was able to mobilize this cooperation. But can you reflect, like you live on Bainbridge Island in Pacific, near Seattle.

Where do you see anything akin to this emerging where you are?

Fran Korten: We have a number of employee owned businesses. One of our big construction businesses, Clark Construction, does construction all around in this region. They’re employee-owned. So we have examples. I was talking to the gal who once was the owner and turned over the Clark Construction to the people who work there, and I said, I hear you give talks from time to time. I never hear you mention that. Please mention it. Yeah, it’s something you’d be very proud of and to enable people to know, Hey, this can be done. This can be done.

Vicki Robin: Just wondering about, you have a very large co-housing community there. The Winslow Co-housing and, and co-housing isn’t the perfect, worker-owned business, but it is a cooperative.

Right. And the fact that the co-housing movement was like years ago, it was like hippies, like, it’s communes, right. Now it is so respectable. There’s senior co-housing, I mean, co-housing is sort of like the, the cool thing about how you know where we’re gonna live and who we’re gonna live with.

Fran Korten: Totally,totally. Yeah. So I think, your analogy there to worker co-ops is very astute. It’s really the same deal that the people making the decisions are the people who bear the consequences of those decisions. That’s the deal. That’s where we wanna be. And when you, when you get there, then you’re going to just have a lot more fairness in your system.

You’re going to have, it’s like the Mondragon people say people over profits. They’re not against profits. You have to have profits to survive. And the co-housing, they have to balance their books like everybody else. They have to pay their taxes or their mortgages or whatever, but they’re going to prioritize how it all works together.

And, sort of how the common house is working and how are common meals working and are people keeping up their front yards?

Vicki Robin: There’s other things too. I mean, in a way it’s like, here on Whidbey Island it was very clear that, that our food system was never going to achieve anything other than, a farmer’s market if we didn’t have a distribution system.

And so, you could feel the desire for some, some cooperative distribution so that it’s not just individual farmers with individual little stands all with the same crop because that’s what came in this week. But so we have now a food hub I think created by Whidbey Island Grown Cooperative.

So, just noticing that it’s almost like putting on your sort of cooperative glasses, like where are cooperative solutions happening? Right. And where are they? Sort of like, not strange, really. And even as you were talking, I was thinking about unions, that the unions are, I, I have no expertise on this, but it just, my impression is, is that they’re starting to get stronger.

Fran Korten: No question. I made a list actually of the big businesses that now have at least one or two outlets that are unionized. Amazon, right? Yep. They hate it, but it happened. Starbucks, including in Seattle, Microsoft, one of their companies, the video game company, Zemax, unionized. Trader Joe’s, Apple, Home Depot, Chipotle, all of those have some outlets that are unionized and it’s all very recent.

Yeah. So of course unions have experienced this huge decline. Right, right. So I think about 10% of people who work for companies are in a unionized situation. But it, it’s changing, it’s changing fast. For me, I would prefer worker ownership to union, because a union enters into negotiations with the owners whose objective is to maximize return, right?

So they got the wrong objective. Worker ownership and then the union is trying to balance against that. So wait, wait. You workers are important too, right? So, well and good. If that’s the best we can do, let’s do that. But, worker ownership really changes things.

It’s also hard work. It is hard work because you got two damn many meetings. That’s the big, like with co-housing, two damn many meetings.

Vicki Robin: Exactly. I have a friend who, when he moved here, I told him that, that this, the village I live in Langley is like co-housing without the meetings, because it’s quite densely populated and people, we see each other all the time. You could just squint and it is that, but it’s not.

And there’s cooperatives, I’m sure in agriculture, in cooperative like Viva Farms, I’m just exploring this with you because Mondragon is like, it’s a high bar for us to get to, but where do we see that creative response to late stage capitalism where people are creating businesses that they own or that, that are cooperative network of businesses. Where do we see that emerging? Because that’s the lattice on which other things can grow. Right.

Fran Korten: Well, it’s interesting cause we have worker ownership and we also have employee stock ownership.

ESOPs. Now ESOPs aren’t the same, but what’s interesting is that according to Marjorie Kelly at the Democracy Collaborative, I don’t know if you’ve interviewed her. She’s fabulous. What she says about ESOPs is that, The vast majority of ESOPs in the vast majority of companies that have ESOPs are at a level of about 6% or less.

6%. What? 6% of the employees have stock ownership. I see. Okay. And she says at that level, it doesn’t make any difference at all. Right. Will not see anything happening in the company that would be different from if they were not. But she says if the stock ownership goes up to 30%, you begin to see culture change.

And of course, the higher that number goes, the more culture change you’re going to see. Until, it really becomes a lot more like a worker-owned co-op. Right? So one of her points is that it seems to be easier to create an ESOP than to create a worker-owned cooperative. So anyway, it’s an avenue. If you talk to my husband, he’s very dismissive of ESOPs.

Vicki Robin: And your husband is David Korten.

Fran Korten: Right. But I listened to Marjorie Kelly and she has really studied this, and so I think that’s an interesting aspect of this.

Vicki Robin: I just want to follow up on this a little bit because for me the hope for the future is in cooperative systems. So everything we can do to create, to take individuals in their little silos and make them into something, whether it’s a church, whether it’s a festival, whether it’s a town meeting, whatever the methodologies are, that start to have people in a cooperative relationship, even around like a beach cleanup.

It’s like the habit of cooperation is an important habit to not lose, and especially, you mentioned the media in the beginning, that we are being driven apart really by algorithms. It’s inhuman elements. Or, deployed by humans who, cherish power over everything.

And so people need a lived experience that, cooperative relationships produce more benefit than being enraged, and lashing out.

Fran Korten: There’s a larger framing on that, that I think is important, and that is in Western civilization. We have exalted the individual and in doing so, we focus on separation.

Not all cultures do that. Many cultures focus on interconnection, but our culture has focused on separation. And that is the thing that we need to change. We need to understand that we are all interconnected and I think oddly enough, the challenge of global climate change is helping.

It helps us more deeply understand that we are all interconnected, that what we spew into the atmosphere can affect people in Pakistan.

So I think that is a growing awareness and it counteracts this very dominant narrative of. our society of individualism. Yeah. So yes, connection’s good.

Vicki Robin: It’s like I call it WAITT. We’re all in this together, W A I T T. We’re all in this together. And you’re right. I mean, maybe that is a bit of a consciousness shift that climate change is forcing upon us. Yes. I mean, we can face off in the international waters off the coast of China.

We can face off, we can saber rattle and there’s reasons why that’s important to defend democracies that could fall. But at the same time, there’s a lot of things that are being produced, that whether it’s it’s the pollution or whatever, we have to have a cooperative relationship to work on the problems.

They’re not just cross border. It’s almost like that picture of like the earth from space was so inspiring. And now this picture of the earth, our mother, failing in a nursing home, can hopefully bring us more together.

Fran Korten: Yes. A term my husband likes to use is the living earth. And I think that we are better coming to understand that this whole earth we live on is an interconnected living being,

The research, for example, on trees and how their root reach out and intertwine and a tree’s health is dependent on the microbia in the soil feeding certain nutrients on up to the tree, and that the tree also contributes to the microbia. So this kind of deep interdependence that we’re learning about more and more.

Suzanne Simon’s books trace that history for her, where she starts out as this forester working for a company that has clearcut a big plot of land and now is planting trees. So they want no competition for the new seedlings. So they do herbicide and they kill off everything in that area.

And then they plant the little seedlings that they want to grow and those seedlings don’t do well. And that was her kind of beginning awakening to, wait, wait, how come they’re not doing well? There’s no competition. To discovering that, wait, what we need is cooperation.

You see, it’s that mindset that it’s, it’s a reflection I think of the mindset we were speaking of about individualism. So if you think that the individual is in competition with everything else, then you’re gonna spray herbicide before you plant a seedling tree. But if you know that in the soil there’s all kinds of organisms that are going to help your tree seedling to thrive, it’s a different model.

It’s a cooperation model. And what I think is important is that we’re kind of seeing evidence of that truth about the importance of cooperation with nature much, much more than we ever have in the past. I mean, Suzanne Simard is not that old, and it was, I guess 30 years ago that she discovered this spraying herbicide before you plant a tree is really a bad idea.

Vicki Robin: Right, exactly.

Fran Korten: Okay. Do you want any other positive trends?

Vicki Robin: Yeah, so let’s do one more and and we can do whatever you want really, Fran, but let’s go to your next best thing.

Fran Korten: Well, there’s lots of best things. Okay. But a specific one that I’ve been very encouraged on is something called ranked choice voting.

So do you have that on Whidbey? No, Seattle has it. So the thing I like about ranked choice voting, which is where you vote for not just one person, you vote for a whole bunch of people, but you rank them. You say, Vicki Robin is my first choice, but Fran Korten is my second choice, and so and so is my third choice, et cetera.

So what’s interesting about the effect of that is if I’m running against you in a normal election, I’m gonna attack you. You stand for the wrong things, got the wrong background, gonna vote the wrong way. But if I’m in a ranked choice election, and there’s a whole bunch of us. I want the people who vote for you to vote for me second. So I don’t really wanna attack you very badly because I want your voters to also like me.

So it makes for a more civil dialogue in the political process. So that’s the thing I like about it and what I see is that it is spreading quite rapidly. It really, really got going. In recent years in Maine in 2010, they chose to elect their mayor by ranked choice voting. And then over the years, they gradually spread it to more and more elections.

But of course, other states are coming on and we know about Alaska. So Alaska adopted it in their 2022 election. And of course the result was they elected Mary Perla the first. Native Alaskan to be elected to the US Congress. So it has an effect. And now we’re seeing that more and more states are using it for their presidential primaries and cities are using it.

Big cities like New York. San Francisco, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Seattle. So this is gaining momentum. A group that has been steadfast in promoting rank choice voting is called Fair Vote, and David and I have contributed to this organization I think pretty much since its beginning 30 years ago. And sometimes you kinda wondered, is this worth it?

Not very much is happening and now you just see this momentum and I think that is very promising. I think you can see, I really care about elections cuz I think they have a huge impact at all levels. The local, the state, the national. And then through the national to the international.

So rank choice voting is something that I see as a very positive trend happening right now.

Vicki Robin: Yeah. Wanna go over any more of the trends? I’m loving this.

Fran Korten: Okay, sure. I got more. Well, a big one is the shift in our respect for indigenous people. Do you know that in our Declaration of Independence, we have the phrase merciless Indian savages.

It’s in the context of all our complaints against Britain, right? So you have this long, long, long, long list of why we’re declaring independence, and one of ’em is that they recruit these merciless Indian savages to their side. We could not write such a phrase today. Even the right wing would not say that because we have changed and many of us have changed to become admirers of much about indigenous culture for their understanding of that relationship with nature. The thing we were talking about before was cooperation, interrelationship, the fact that we’re all interconnected. So we’re seeing this shift of turning to the wisdom of indigenous people.

So these folks that we once called savages, we white people once did that. We’re not doing that now. Obviously it’s uneven and the right wing is trying to suppress their vote, et cetera, et cetera. But there is a huge cultural shift that has happened in our understanding of our indigenous peoples, and it has lots and lots of practical implications.

Where I live, the Suquamish tribe is the most dominant tribe, and I will tell you, they are thriving. They are doing well now. Part of it is because they have a casino, but part of it is because they have great leadership, they, lead on a lot of our beach cleanup issues and they’re a benefit to all of us.

So anyway, that’s another cultural shift. That I think is enormously important.

Vicki Robin: And that’s really picked up speed just in the last decade or so, it’s like in our lifetime. And is there one more that you just, you would like to share with us?

Fran Korten: Well, this is the big point that is very important for us to recognize the speed at which change is happening.

So I wanna take the women’s movement as an example. When my mother was born, women could not vote. So that’s kind of like in my own experience almost. So we got the vote in 1920. When my children were born, a woman could not own a credit card, right? It was not until 1974 that the Congress passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act that said basically banks, you gotta give women credit cards and other people too.

So that’s less than 50 years ago, something that was kind of commonplace as owning a credit card was not possible for women.

So when my grandchildren were born, there were 72 women in the Congress, in the house and the Senate combined. Now we have 150, so that’s happened just in the last 20 years. So I find kind of looking back at history on any movement that I care about, where do there seem to be tipping points and where do we see change accelerating?

And I think we’re seeing it in many places. Some places are bad, but most places are good. So when I think about climate change, for example, one could get very discouraged, right? But I think that the speed of change is accelerating. And I think that most of us in our minds, when we project into the future, we project a straight line.

We say, oh yeah, things are changing. Yes. And but what we don’t recognize is sometimes there are these curves, and I think that’s where we are on climate change. And that’s what gives me hope that we once thought that we might have four degrees or five degrees Celsius increase in the global temperature.

Nobody is saying that now. Nobody. Will it be 1.5? Probably not. Will it be two? I think very likely. Will it be three? I don’t think so. I don’t think so. So what counts is these pivotal points where, where something changes far more rapidly then was expected. And we can see that all over the place. Certainly, the number of electric cars, the amount of renewable energy in the world, the decline of coal mines, the changes that will slow the pace at which our global temperature rises are happening all over the place. All over the place.

So is it happening fast enough? No. I’m not naive, but is the change at a kind of a steady, slow pace? No. No, it’s not. There’s a exponential curve hidden in there. So anyway, that’s what I can tell you about some of my….

Vicki Robin: This is so interesting. It’s like we’re so nose up against the plate glass of the latest tragedy or, you know egregious action. And what you’re doing is you’re adding history. Not long history. We don’t, not going back into like the formation of the eukaryotes. We’re in this timeframe where we can both see, we can see the rise of the industrial growth society.

But then you’re, you’re pointing out, there’s also, in response to that, all alongside of it, there is this other curve of an ever increasingly informed and empowered citizenship. Like tracking every single step, you know?

And, and it happens. It’s not like anybody’s talk about a worker-owned cooperative, this is a citizen owned cooperative, We have the space to form movements, and we think, oh, well, all the movements have to get together. But even little small movements, it’s almost like you see a systemic, like there’s a, something happening over here and then there’s a small group of people who like respond to that thing and maybe it’s neutralized, but maybe that is the leading edge of coral reefs or whatever it is, you know?

So it’s very inspiring about who we are. That as a species we’re also, in addition to everything else, we’re using self-reflective consciousness, fast cars or whatever, or consumerism. You’re using our awareness to respond to threats.

Even if it’s just a few citizens that is in there and so, to live through these times it’s important to notice that it’s in my, myself as well, and you as well, and that, and it’s just like, where do I join forces with one small thing? It’s not like I can save the whole thing, but there’s something going on in my neighborhood or there’s something, where can I join forces with whatever that is.

That responsive nature is the social society responding to the threats contained in the very fact that we have an apparent free will. That’s a whole other discussion, but the fact that we have not been stopped in our headlong, headstrong, rapacious….

Fran Korten: On your theme of, what small thing can we do?

Yesterday I participated in the nationwide protest against Chase. So Chase Bank is the biggest funder in the world of fossil fuel projects. So Bill McKibbon at Third Act said, okay, let’s do a nationwide protest against Chase Bank on March 21st, yesterday. So in 102 locations in 30 states across the country.

People turned out, and I was one of them together with my granddaughter, and we had about 50 people. This is not a huge, massive crowd, but it was one of 102 locations, and so we delivered our message to Jamie Diamond the head of Chase Bank, and we said, Stop funding fossil fuels. And we had a big, thick book of all the people that had taken their money out of Chase Bank because after all, a bank’s all about money.

So yes, yes. I mean, our telecommunications enable this kind of a nationwide protest. I mean, he only thought of it a few months ago. And boom, we have these 102 locations across the country all doing the same thing. And I can tell you Chase noticed. Yes, Chase noticed and the New York Times covered it, and the Washington Post covered it. And so anyway, there we are.

Vicki Robin: Well, I just wanna thank you for the direction you took this conversation. It’s the wisdom that you bring of a wider view and an unwillingness even at your age, an unwillingness to just cede territory to failure.

You just are not doing that, and it’s not that you’re oppositional here in the world. It’s not like you’re still fighting the man. No, you’re spacious and you’re seeing where the opportunities are. So it’s a beautiful conversation and it’s a beautiful model and inspiration for us all, Fran. And so I wanna thank you for this.

Fran Korten: Thank you Vicki. A great pleasure to be in a conversation about what could possibly go right..

Vicki Robin

Vicki Robin is a prolific social innovator, writer, speaker, and host of the What Could Possibly Go Right? podcast. She is coauthor with Joe Dominguez of the international best-seller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Viking Penguin, 1992, 1998, 2008, 2018). And author of Blessing the Hands that Feed Us; Lessons from a 10-mile diet (Viking Penguin, 2013), which recounts her adventures in hyper-local eating and what she learned about food, farming, belonging, and hope. Vicki has lectured widely and appeared on hundreds of radio and television shows, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Good Morning America,” and National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition” and “Morning Edition.” She has also been featured in hundreds of magazines including People Magazine, AARP, The Wall Street Journal, Woman’s Day, Newsweek, Utne Magazine, and the New York Times. She currently lives on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound and is active in her community on a range of social and environmental issues including affordable housing, local food, and community investing. For fun, she is a comedy improv actress, sings in a choir, gardens, and nurtures a diverse circle of friends.

Tags: building resilient communities, building resilient economies