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Putting Your Money Where Your Heart Is

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Conscious investing not only pays better than unconscious greed, it also makes greedy companies pay attention. Here an activist trader shows how you can sleep well at night while taking part (and profits) in a revolution that may save the world.

This article appeared in the Winter 2001 issue of Spirituality & Health. “This is Mr. Brill, rep number 638. I have an order to sell 4,000 shares of Exxon at market.” I completed the trade for my client and stepped out of my office with a satisfied smile. I had just helped a conscientious investor divest herself of holdings in a company whose environmental misbehavior deeply offended her. And look at my own environment! The Wall Street clerk taking my order probably pictured me in a stuffy brokerage suite with electronic ticker tapes flashing. But in 1992 I had taken refuge in a relic travel trailer parked on a friend’s high desert acreage outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Along the south side I had added an arching sunroom with straw-bale walls. A 500-foot extension cord and phone line snaked through the pinyon and juniper trees, linking me and my laptop to the world. I wore Guatemalan shorts, not a pinstriped suit. For me the most important thing about working with people and their money is the way it touches our core issues. Where investing once was primarily the province of the weal …

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