[Orange_County_Permaculture] Interview/The Permaculture Credit Union with Bill Sommers President

Wesley Roe and Santa Barbara Permaculture Network lakinroe at silcom.com
Mon Mar 4 08:52:52 PST 2013

Interview/The Permaculture Credit Union with Bill Sommers President The 
Permaculture Podcast


My guest for this episode is Bill Sommers, president of the Permaculture 
Credit Union www.pcuonline.org in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Though I’d heard about the Permaculture Credit Union before, I didn’t 
get around to looking into it further until Wes Roe, one of the board 
members of PCU, contacted me with the suggestion of talking to Bill. In 
setting up the interview, I spoke with Bill at length, and felt his 
background offered a unique perspective to discuss banking and financial 
permaculture; he’s been involved in finance and business for over 30 
years including holding a Master of Business Administration degree from 
Loyola College. Here is a banker who also practices permaculture. This 
interview adds another model to those presented by Eric Toensmeier and 
Lisa Fernandes on applying permaculture more broadly, particularly to 

We begin with Bill’s background in the world of banking and finance, and 
how he came to permaculture. From there we move to the Permaculture 
Credit Union: how the organization began, the process involved to get 
started, and the ethos that allows people to join the credit union and 
also bind them together philosophically. Throughout it all, Bill speaks 
with clarity and frankness as I seek details on understanding the causes 
of the financial crisis/melt down/great recession over the last few 
years, and how the Permaculture Credit Union performed in comparison to 
the big banks. We throw some numbers around and touch on esoteric ideas 
behind what makes a particular financial institution secure or insecure. 
We close out talking about how community focused banks can make a 
difference to the people that live within there, even if the bank is 
located hundreds, or thousands, of miles away. In the information age 
physical location may matter less and less, but the we should ally with 
those who agree that the best place to start building a better world is 
at home, in our neighborhood, and our nearest town or city.


The Permaculture Credit Union (PCU) is the first and only credit union 
in the United States that operates exclusively within permaculture 
values. Established in 2000, the PCU pools the financial resources of 
people who believe in the ethics of permaculture - care of the earth, 
care of people, and reinvestment of surplus for the betterment of both. 
We apply these resources to earth-friendly and socially responsible 
loans and investments as well as providing educational opportunities to 
learn more about sustainable practices being developed around the 
country and the world.

“Permaculture is a positivistic response to the environmental crisis. 
That means it is about what we want to do and can do rather than what we 
oppose and want others to change.” — David Holmgren

Throughout history, financial institutions typically focus just on 
profit. Over time, this profit-above-all model has led to the 
exploitation of people and the Earth's resources. The Permaculture 
Credit Union was established not to decry the old systems but to create 
a new approach to financial investment. The PCU, through its members 
investing with conscience, creates opportunities for individuals, 
families, and small businesses so they may begin the steps in creating 
more sustainable lifestyles and business models.

Today, the Permaculture Credit Union nurtures the opportunities for more 
sustainable living through:

loans for environmentally sound projects including home energy 
improvement, small business support, and fuel efficient vehicles
educational opportunities for youth, students, and the general public in 
the many ways permaculture values are creating more sustainable, 
financially sound ventures, lifestyles, and communities
micro-loans to farmers through the Santa Fe Farmer's Market Institute 
and Permaculture Guild
To date we have given out 685 loans, accumulating in $15.2 Million, but 
we couldn’t do this without the support of our members. That is why we 
have launched a campaign to build our Capital Fund. To learn more about 
the Campaign please click here.

Member Newsletters

PCU Visa
Why Should I Get a PCU Visa Card?

1. Part of the greater Credit Union System
Through the Illinois Credit Union League you can be sure your Visa 
purchases benefit the wider Credit Union community, our credit card 
supports Credit Unions.

2. PCU receives a portion of income derived from your Visa Card use
As your local Permaculture Credit Union you can be assured a portion of 
the profits from your Visa Card will be re-invested in local 
permaculture projects and investments.

3. Using the PCU Visa Card promotes the philosophy of Permaculture
Using your PCU Visa Card helps bring the word “Permaculture” into the 
general vocabulary and raises consciousness about sustainability.

4. The PCU Visa Card benefits our members
Members will benefit from the growth of PCU income through the Visa 
Cardprogram. You will also benefit from the ability of PCU to set our 
own interestrates once we have enough card carriers to bring the program 
in house.

For more information: http://www.pcuonline.org/services/pcu-visa
Call toll free 1-888-415-6154

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