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Devin: Rosa Lee, what do you see as your superpower?
Rosa Lee: Growing up in the church, I just kind of saw through a bunch of the crap, if you will, about what people thought church was about and saw I had a clear vision of that. What my faith needed to be about was figuring out what Jesus would do and doing it.
Devin: What's your superpower, Leroy?
Leroy: I've been a person who can look out and do something and bring people together to do something scary.
Rosa Lee Harden and her husband and business partner, Kevin Doyle Jones, founded Neighborhood Economics as a community-focused version of the highly successful SoCap event series they created.
“Back in 2008, my husband, Kevin Jones, and a bunch of us started this organization called SoCap,” Rosa Lee said. “We decided after about a decade that we wanted to go more downstream, if you will, and start working with economics in a way that could change neighborhoods for good.”
The next Neighborhood Economics event is in San Antonio, Texas, on February 26 - 28, 2024. The event will feature about 70 speakers in 42 sessions over the three days.
Leroy Barber, the executive director of Neighborhood Economics, joined us for this conversation. He says the enterprise brings together the world of impact investing and social entrepreneurship with his traditional focus on community development and church work.
The connection to faith is more overt than implied, as it was at SoCap, recognizing faith leaders' and organizations' roles in repairing local economies.
“We are mostly Christians in our organization, but we believe that faith writ large, not just Christianity, is the glue that holds the moral compass of the economy together,” Rosa Lee said. “It's important for people of faith to be in conversation with the economy.”
A vital element of the event is bringing about a dozen foundations together to talk about patient capital's role in local community investing.
Rosa Lee and Leroy both bring their superpowers to work. Rosa Lee’s early conviction to do what Jesus would and Leroy’s ability to get people together to complete scary community projects enable them to impact communities through their events.
AI Episode Summary
1. Devin Thorpe introduces Rosa Lee Harden, founder of Neighborhood Economics, and her colleague Leroy Barber as his guests on the "Superpowers for Good" show.
2. Rosa Lee talks about starting SoCap in 2008, focusing on global impact investing, and later creating Neighborhood Economics with a more local approach to building economic justice in neighborhoods through ideas and community collaboration.
3. Neighborhood Economics hosts events that bring together around 300 people to discuss actionable ways of making positive changes in local communities with input from national experts.
4. Leroy Barber joined the initiative after being invited to SoCap, realizing the potential connections between social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and local community development.
5. Rosa Lee highlights the purpose of Neighborhood Economics as a platform for facilitating discussions that SoCap couldn't cater to, such as impact investing for specific local contexts, and emphasizes the role of faith as a moral compass in economy-related conversations.
6. Leroy explains the importance of the faith community as a mobilizer for local economic efforts, fostering a merge between the financial world and faith-directed community action.
7. Rosa Lee shares details about an upcoming event in San Antonio, Texas, providing a platform for discussing various topics like reversing redlining, equitable homeownership, and employee-owned business models, alongside sessions about the role of faith in economic justice.
8. Rosa Lee considers one of her superpowers to be her ability to see through superficial religious motivations and focus on living out her faith through actions that reflect a divine dream for the world, as well as her exceptional capability to organize large events without stress.
9. Leroy identifies his superpower as the ability to bring people together to undertake challenging and transformative community work, fostering relationships and building unlikely alliances.
10. Rosa Lee invites viewers to the Neighborhood Economics event and provides contact information for both her and Leroy—Rosa Lee at email@example.com and Leroy at firstname.lastname@example.org—for anyone interested in connecting or learning more about their work.
How to Develop Doing As Jesus Would As a Superpower
SoCap is the living manifestation of the power of Rosa Lee’s influence. Her faith led her to keep the balance at the events on impact, so the focus didn’t shift entirely to making money.
“The idea that was emerging in the early 2000s, that you could invest for profit in mission-based businesses, that businesses should have a mission and that they should be doing good, and that you could follow your money through that path has proved to be true,” she says. In those early days of SoCap, her influence helped to maintain the balance.
By following Rosa Lee’s example, you can increase your ability to apply principles of your faith in contexts outside of worship services. With practice, this could become a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world.
How to Develop Completing Scary Community Projects As a Superpower
Leroy explains his superpower:
My superpower is to convince people on the margins in local neighborhoods who've been underneath it for so long and are not resourced that this is possible. [Impact investors and social entrepreneurs] exist, and you can come meet them. We're going to pull all of y'all together, right? And something powerful can and will keep happening. I love the idea of that because people don't believe that that's there. My superpower is convincing people it's there.
By following Leroy’s example, you can make bringing people together to tackle scary problems something that you can do, too. With practice, you can make it a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world.
Remember, however, that research into success suggests that building on your own superpowers is more important than creating new ones or overcoming weaknesses. You do you!
About Neighborhood Economics: Neighborhood Economics convenes, recruits, and connects people repairing local economies. Our convenings gather local leaders, impact investors, catalytic foundations, minority entrepreneurs, and people of faith who want to build a more just economy.
X/Twitter Handle: @neighborecon
Company Facebook Page: fb.com/neighborhoodeconomics/
Rosa Lee Harden (she/her):
Executive Producer, Neighborhood Economics
Biographical Information: The Rev. Canon Rosa Lee Harden is a self-described serial entrepreneur. Her vocational life has included being publisher of weekly newspapers, trade journals, a business journal and CEO of a ‘Silicon Valley’ start-up. She was ordained as an Episcopal Priest in 2000 and served as Vicar of Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in San Francisco for ten years. She also served as the Canon for Money and Meaning at All Soul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Asheville, NC. In 2003, she developed ‘via media,’ a video curriculum about basic theology for the Episcopal church, developed at a time when the church was under great stress. Purchased by more than 1000 churches, it brought healing and connection across the denomination. In 2008, she and her husband, Kevin Jones, launched the global SOCAP (Social Capital Markets) conference, the conference at the intersection of money and meaning. In its 11th year, SOCAP18 brought more than 3,000 people from more than 60 countries to San Francisco to accelerate the good economy.
Now, Rosa Lee is leading F+F: Reimagining God’s Economy, a conference to enable the varied and disconnected tribes of the Christian church to learn a language for making theological sense of money and its uses. She is also executive producer of Neighborhood Economics, a convening in Indianapolis that brought together leaders and practitioners in the field.
Leroy Barber (he/him):
Executive Director, Neighborhood Economics
Biographical Information: Leroy Barber has dedicated 30 years living and working towards what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”
Leroy starts projects that shape society. In 1989, burdened by the plight of Philadelphia’s homeless, he and his wife, Donna, founded Restoration Ministries to serve homeless families and children living on the streets. In 1994, he became Director of Internship Programs at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Leroy was licensed and ordained at Mt Zion Baptist Church where he served as Youth Director with Donna, and also served as Associate Minister of Evangelism. In 1997, he joined FCS Urban Ministries in Atlanta, GA, working with the Atlanta Youth Project to serve as the founding Executive Director of Atlanta Youth Academies, a private elementary school providing quality Christian education for low-income families in the inner city. Leroy also helped found DOOR Atlanta, Community Life Church, South Atlanta Marketplace, and Community Grounds Coffee shop in Atlanta, as well as Green My Hood and The Voices Project. Leroy is an innovator, entrepreneur and lover of the arts. Leroy has a Masters Degree in Divinity and D. Min.
Leroy is currently Executive Director for Neighborhood Economics, former Director of Innovation for an Engaged Church serving the Greater NW area of the United Methodist Church. Leroy is the Co-Founder of the Voices Project and Adjunct professor at Multnomah University. Rev. Barber has served on the boards of The Simple Way, Missio Alliance, The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), and the Former Board Chair of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA).
He is the author of four books:
• New Neighbor: An Invitation to Join Beloved Community (2008, Mission Year)
• Everyday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World (2012, Intervarsity Press)
• Red, Brown, Yellow, Black and White: Who’s More Precious In His Sight? with Velma Maia Thomas, 2014, Faith Words/Hachette Book Group)
• Embrace: God’s Radical Shalom For A Divided World (2016, Intervarsity Press)
Leroy currently lives in Portland, Oregon and has been married to Donna for the past 35 years. Together they have six children.
X/Twitter Handle: @leroybarber
Instagram Handle: @Leroybarber
Upcoming SuperCrowd Event Calendar
If a location is not noted, the events below are virtual.
Impact Cherub Club Meeting hosted by The Super Crowd, Inc., a public benefit corporation, on February 20, 2024, at 1:00 PM Eastern. Each month, the Club meets to review new offerings for investment consideration and to conduct due diligence on previously screened deals. Everyone is welcome to join the free events.
SuperCrowdHour February with the CfPA Executive Committee: This free event on February 21, 2024, at 1:00 PM Eastern, features President Brian Christie, Vice President Jenny Kassan, Secretary Brian Belley and Chair Scott McIntyre. Learn how you can join and make a difference. Earn rewards!
SuperCrowdBaltimore, March 21, 2024 This in-person event at the B&O Rail Museum features some of Baltimore’s prominent citizens and community leaders. Save 30 percent with the discount code “SuperCrowd.”
SuperCrowd24, April 17-18: This two-day virtual event is our biggest event of the year. Don’t miss it. Save 50 percent with the discount code “SuperCrowd.”
SuperCrowdChicago, June 12, 2024. Save the date! More information is coming soon!
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