How we’ve been doing over the last year and what we’re planning for the next.
It’s been about a year since posts started going up consistently on this blog, and we’ve been able to cover a variety of basic banking topics as well as the work of many Better Banking Options across the country. We’ve also heard from many people looking to move their money to Better Banking Options in their area and have done personalized research for them, on places as big as LA and places as small as Tulalip Bay, Washington.
What we’ve found is that as much as there is to be discouraged about in banking, mostly the seeming exponential growth of the mega-banks, there’s just as much to be encouraged about. We’ve been able to get in touch with many people working with the banking industry that are just as passionate and compassionate about Better Banking, and it’s clear from our growing readership that more people are thinking about their banking practices. There are institutions all over the country which share the values that many of us do, investing heavily in their communities without engaging in the traditional banking practice of excluding communities and individuals which aren’t seen as “profitable.” There are people putting in the work, and they’ve found that compassionate community banking can be just as safe and profitable, if not more so, than traditional banking.
Over the next year, we hope to continue to dialogue with people who believe in the value of Better Banking Options and with others who don’t know anything about banking in hopes that we can share with them about its importance. We plan to contact Better Banks directly and ask them questions about how they help contribute to the communities they work in, as well as visiting a couple of institution to see their work firsthand. Finally, we hope to create a space online in which people can share their experiences with banking institutions and their stories about how banking has affected their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
But wait! There’s one BIG thing coming in the next year (hopefully!) which we’d like to announce.
Although it’s still very much in the early stages, we’re working on a search engine to let people quickly find Better Banking Options in their area based on our community-grounded criteria. There is a wealth of publicly available data on banks and credit unions in the U.S., and we’ve hired a programming professional to build a platform to run that data through a series of equations and rank them based on Better Banking Options criteria. While similar programs exist, their priorities are different. We wanted everyone to be able to use it, to emphasize housing and small business loans in low- and moderate-income census tracts, and to incorporate both banks and credit unions. The programmer is currently immersed in the data and off to a good start. Look out on our site and social media pages for further announcements about the project!
And while we’ve got lots to look forward to, it’s also important to remember the challenges ahead. Although the Trump administration hasn’t directly threatened the existence Community Reinvestment Act (yet!), they’ve suggested “modernizing” the CRA, which essentially means deregulating the CRA and making the benchmarks for low- and moderate-income lending universal for all kinds of institutions, ignoring the individual needs of each community these institutions work in. We have to keep advocating for Better Banks by not only moving our accounts from mega-banks to Better Banks, but by telling everyone that we know to do so as well, and by paying attention to banking policy that affects how banks function.
That’s why we ask anyone reading this to engage with us in conversations about everything that relates to topics of Better Banking Options; we’d love to hear about your experiences with different banking institutions, and what makes a difference to you in interactions with your bank. If you ever have any questions you want answered or suggestions for article topics, or you know of a bank that might make a good feature, reach out to us either on our website, through our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter, or through our email address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
More importantly than engaging with us, talk to your friends and family members about the importance of Better Banking. In today’s world, so many things seem out of our control, and there are many horrible and unjust things happening; sometimes, it feels like we can do nothing to help. While moving your money to a Better Banking Option may seem inconsequential, it’s the easiest way you can make sure your money is being used to make a positive difference in the world.
For many who make the conscious effort to consume more ethically, only to find it’s more difficult than we thought, switching our accounts to a Better Banking Option is a simple way we can know our money—however much or little we have—is making a difference. So we ask you to read and share our articles on social media and let your friends know about the easiest thing they can do with their money to make a big difference in their community. Reach out to us with any questions, stories, or ideas you might have around topics of Better Banking. And mostly, keep thinking intentionally about the way you use, spend, and bank your money affects the world. It’s people who do make these changes who are truly changing the way our economy works.