Pictured: The future site of Rainbird Village, near Cedar City, Utah. Courtesy of Rainbird Village.
I'm excited for this post, the first in the series on regeneration, supported by the community of regenerators in the Global Regeneration CoLab (GRC.earth), an invite-only online community of regenerators. Climatetech Media exists to infuse climatetech with positive values, and it is a great honor and privilege to merge regeneration and climate innovation. The GRC series of interviews is being developed with fellow GRC'er Josh Prieto, co-founder of Seeds of Tao, a regenerative livelihoods educational community platform and podcast.
I met Colleen Dick last year while attending her presentation on A State of Grace Regenerative Arts and Ecology Institute, or as its now known: Rainbird Village. When she recently announced that the project is approved as a federally-recognized Opportunity Zone Fund, a.k.a. a tax shelter, I knew that I had to spread the word to the climatetech universe. The mantra of cleantech and climatetech is "doing well by doing good," and this is the type of win-win that we like to see. If you've made recent capital gains, you might want to consider contributing to the Rainbird Village to reduce your tax bill.
The vision for Rainbird Village is "a destination prototype cooperative producer community designed to generate, showcase and export regenerative technologies & practices regionally & beyond." It will feature a regenerative arts and ecologies institute, an integrative health academy, clinics, and spa, a "regencubator" business incubator and accelerator, maker spaces, an agroecology demonstration site, hospitality and ecotourism options, and of course, housing for worker-owners.
The Institute and Village is in its development phase; Colleen and her team have been working diligently for six years, creating vision and design documents, aligning with the State of Utah, Americans, and the world, and are seeking funds to support the first construction phases of the Village.
In this interview, Colleen shares with us some beautiful words and perspective on the present moment and what we might expect from Rainbird Village over the coming years. Here is the interview with Colleen, I hope you enjoy it.
Are you also working on a prototype community of the future? Reach out to email@example.com and let's chat.
"Rainbird Village is, among other things, a prototype community of the future. We believe that there are many people who are looking at the way we are living, currently, and can see that much of it isn't sustainable. If you are like us, you would be willing to explore new ways of living your life in harmony with nature and more provident in practice, if you knew how to do it in a reasonable manner. We want to stimulate the visionaries, the idealists and the practical folks, who want to follow their hearts into a future that is fundamentally friendlier to intrinsic human potential and happiness than the fragmented existence in which most of us find ourselves. It is our desire to lead the way with a comprehensive outreach, to make a very real improvement for people and the environment which supports us."
Interview with Colleen Dick, Founder, Concept Designer, and Team Builder at State of Grace Living, a Utah Benefit Corporation, and Raindance Village
Matthew: What is a State of Grace Living and how did it come to be?
Colleen: Grace is an interesting word which is rich in meaning across multiple cultures and theories of humanity. Sometimes, it has religious or spiritual connotation in the context of forgiveness or special gifts, but even for the non-religious, the words: graceful or gracious have behavioral implications of loveliness, gentleness and goodness. At first, I was concerned about the use of the words, because I feared misunderstanding of the intentions upon which I based the name of the company: State of Grace Living, a Utah Benefit Corporation. As time went on, I realized that there would be misunderstanding with any collection of words that I might use to convey the same meaning.
As I asked person after person what they thought when I said the word “grace,” I heard amazingly beautiful answers. Most acknowledged that there is a higher or better aspect of their own personalities to which they would love to give greater expression. Asked why they didn’t do so, many replied that their lives were rushed, fractionated and distracted. So, it is with those aspects in mind, we have spent more than six years creating a design for a whole systems, prototype village of the future, in which there would be a minimization of distractions and perverse incentives to living graceful lives where those better portions of our personalities can flourish through regenerative practices. The first village, of which we hope there will be many, we have named Rainbird Village, and we have located a site in Southwestern Utah, near Cedar City, to create the proposed village.
M: That's a beautiful story. Why is now the time?
C: Our team members have broad experience from working in various parts of the world, and have seen the plight of humanity as ecosystems have become degraded because of poor management. Clean water and healthy soils are becoming increasingly rare resources, and unless we can turn it around, the distress coming in the future will be profound. In seeing the trajectory, many people are discouraged about the likely outcomes.
In the process of becoming more conscious of ecological realities, there comes a point of awareness which is quite shocking. When we fully see the dire circumstances, there is a process of mourning, denial and frustration which often follows, and many of us have experienced times of depression. The good news is, that once people accept the reality of our situation, they are in a greater position to do something about it. There are people engaged in ecosystem restoration and regeneration that actually works!!! There are also people who talk seemingly forever about fixing the problems, but who have no direct experience and propose nonsensical actions, which waste a great deal of time and money for themselves and their community. It is time for demonstrations of what really works.
It is also crucial to acknowledge that two of the most important commercial sectors of our economy have their roots in a fundamental lie. Both conventional agriculture and the medical complex are based in a distrust of nature and result in extreme efforts to fight nature. Instead of studying nature to see what might be learned from the whole systems of natural processes, and augment those parts which favor regeneration of life and health, we take a very short-sighted and reductionist view of what we consider to be problematic. As we do so, we come up with solutions, which then go on to create even more problems.
What we have created currently has become increasingly complicated to the point that we are poisoning ourselves on many levels. Medical error is now the third highest cause of death in the industrialized world, and the other two major diseases above it are attributable to lifestyle, which could be substantially alleviated through changes of agricultural and distribution systems.
M: What are your aspirations for A State of Grace over the next year or two?
C: State of Grace Living’s project “Rainbird Village” is a multifactorial project aimed at creating a whole systems approach to living.
This project is scheduled to be built out over an eight to ten year time span. The features will begin in microcosm and build to create a showcase of regenerative life, to be scaled up by adaptation to new locations and in particular in the vast reaches of Middle America which has been in decline over the past fifty years.
What we hope to be able to accomplish in the next two years is to raise funds in the following ways: philanthropic contribution, qualified opportunity zone fund and State-backed municipal bond. It is a large project and in order to assure its success, we don’t want it to be underfunded. As soon as we have sufficient funding, the land will be purchased and the ecological design process will be initiated and implemented.
M: I first heard you mention Opportunity Zones last summer in a GRC meeting. You've now applied for, and received the designation. Congratulations! Can you please share a bit about what that means for A State of Grace and Rainbird Village?
C: Opportunity Zones are federally acknowledged, state-designated areas for economic development, chosen for their potential to broadly serve people who are most in need. Many have focused on housing and businesses to upgrade community opportunities, and the people therein. Qualified Opportunity Funds, such as the Rainbird Development Company, a Utah Benefit LLC, offer the ability for investors to shelter considerable amounts of money, which would otherwise go to taxes, and then after ten years they may have returns which are tax free.
For example, if you have recently made, or are soon to make, a capital gain (profit) on the sale of:
- A business
- Precious metals
- Real estate
You can help fund Rainbird Village AND shelter your capital gain from taxation for up to 10 years AND earn stock dividends on it by rolling it into our Qualified Opportunity Fund.
Otherwise, short-term capital gains result from selling capital assets owned for one year or less and are taxed as regular income at 37%. Long-term capital gains result from selling capital assets owned for more than one year and are subject to tax of 0%, 15%, or 20% depending on your income.
The great advantage of receiving money in this way is that it allow us to grow without the usual short-term mentality of conventional financing. Nature has her own timetable, and it doesn’t match up well with our typical economic models. The amount of risk in this particular venture diminishes sharply over time, and our very conservative proforma shows large profits beginning in year 8. We are excited about these advantages for both our communities and our funders.
Opportunity Zone Funds have become more compelling under the Biden Administration, so you will want to check with your accountant for the exact details. Once you do that, please feel free to contact Rainbird at https://www.rainbirdut.com/contact-us
M: What would be a big win for you in the next 6-12 months?
C: If we could have a very big wish fulfilled, it would be that some combination of our funders would come together with the same vision and enthusiasm for this much needed project, as the founders and supporters that have accumulated over the past years and get it done! We have broad-based support in the larger community, and some of the best team members that the world has to offer. We welcome those for whom this message resonates to find a way to make a contribution of time or substance. It is exhilarating to be involved in a solid, solution-based movement. We are looking for people, who in twenty years from now will look back and say, “I helped to make this wonderful thing happen.”
That's all folks. Isn't this project incredible and inspiring? If you liked this interview, please subscribe or forward to a friend. This helps the Climatetech Media Project grow, and with growth comes more stories, and with more stories, comes a new reality. You are here because you want to be a part of a reality free of waste. That's why I'm here, too.
You may contact Colleen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Founder & Editor Pro Tempore, Climatetech Media Project