Permaculture, Self-Help Recognized For Being Earth Friendly

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Two credit unions -Permaculture CU, Santa Fe, N.M. and Self-Help CU, Durham, N.C.-were among 10 organizations across the country that were recognized for community investments that have supported earth-friendly products and services and created economic opportunity.

The Community Investment Campaign, a collaboration of the Social Investment Forum Foundation and Co-op America, said such "green banking" investments-money directed toward earth-friendly businesses and non-profits that are often turned away by traditional financial organizations-have helped in forest preservation, clean water, eco- tourism, responsible farming practices and recycling, for starters.

"We are honoring these 10 groups.because they are outstanding examples of how community investing dollars quite literally can transform the world in which we live,'' said Deborah Momsen-Hudson, SIF's campaign chair.

She said they are among hundreds of organizations across the nation who are "building a better planet'' through the stewardship of community investing dollars.

"This is socially responsible investing at its best, for people who want to improve our environment and communities,'' said David Berge, SIFF president. "The environment is part of the community investing story, but there is much more to it.''

The $2-million Permaculture CU was recognized for its consistent support of the community and the planet by pooling financial resources of members and redirecting them toward earth-friendly and socially responsible loans and investments.

Self-Help CU was recognized for its mission to create ownership and economic opportunity by targeting lending efforts toward minorities, women and rural residents. So far, the CU has provided more than $2 billion in financing to more than 25,000 families to own homes in 47 U.S. states. Its lending efforts are targeted toward minorities, women and rural residents, and has also developed lending specialties in the areas of childcare centers, charter schools and the environment.

Last year alone, the CU underwrote $9 million in environment loans, and has made $50 million in such loans since the late 1980s. SHCU also operates the North Carolina Recycling Loan Fund in cooperation with the state government and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Barge said investment money has also assisted low-income families with home purchases, helped battered women by building a community-based shelter, and supplied capital so that underserved neighborhoods can receive the education, mentoring and technical support they need to get ahead.

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