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Last week was a big moment for Canada’s community finance sector — it was the first Catalyst Community Finance Summit in Saskatoon, a first-of-its-kind gathering of people and organizations working toward a thriving community investment ecosystem across the country.

Panel discussion on policy with Eoin Callan, Frank Altman, Lili-Anna Peresa and Matthew Mendelsohn.

Tapestry sent two team members, co-executive director Ryan Collins-Swartz and knowledge lead Suzanne Faiza, to the gathering. And they were busy! Between them, Ryan and Suzanne represented Tapestry on five different panels, from discussions on policy advocacy to how community finance can act in solidarity with global social movements.

As Ryan and Suzanne settle back into daily work, here are three questions they’re mulling over, inspired by conversations at the Summit:

Times are tough. Can community finance meet the moment?

Throughout the Summit, there was an acknowledgement that we’re living through an important moment in history. People around the world are disenfranchised by our economic system that benefits few at the expense of many, and are seeking positive alternatives.

Community finance is a hopeful rebellion against these systems. By definition, it asks us to trust and care for one another, to believe in an economy that allows everyone to thrive. How might we be even louder about this movement and invite more people in?

How can we better emphasize the community in community finance?

While it’s wonderful to gather with colleagues and plan collective action to move community finance forward, there’s very often one voice missing from the conversation — retail investors.

At Tapestry, we believe the spirit of community investment is with, well, community investors! These are everyday people who want to move some of their money into investments that align with their social and environmental values. Meanwhile, instead of paying interest to a big bank, issuing organizations can return interest back to their communities, building up local economies in the process.

How might we more intentionally center community investors as we advocate for a thriving community finance ecosystem?

Who can we collaborate with?

Suzanne Faiza with Malobi Elueme.

There’s something about being gathered with community finance advocates from across the country that helps us to take a step back, see the bigger picture — and see the intersections between our work and others’.

There were many moments at the Catalyst Summit where Suzanne and Ryan noted ways we could be collaborating with other organizations to strengthen our offerings to community bond issuers. Our name, Tapestry, reflects our belief in weaving together all kinds of support for the organizations doing community-centered work day in and day out.

Big thanks to Catalyst for helping us find more ways to do so!