Linking Wall Street and Main Street: Finding a Common Language was the starting point for the discussions on Thursday morning at the Slow Living Summit.

The goal was to create a language that focused around five terms – assets, risks, market, leverage and wealth – through a discussion by six different business people- Amit Sharma, chief of staff and front office global liaison, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities (USA), Inc., in New York, N.Y.; Chris Martenson, the author of The Crash Course, from Montague, Mass.; Curtiss Reed, the executive director of Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity, in Brattleboro, Vt., Mary Ellen Franklin, owner of Franklin Farm in Guilford, Vt.; Peter Welch, the president of Welch Masonry in Guilford, Vt.; and Peter Kinder, the co-founder Domini Social Investments and KLD Risk Metrics, a board member of the Capital Institute, in Cambridge, Mass.

Franklin and Welch spoke about the value of their lifestyle and their career choices as a way to provide wealth in their lives as well as about their reliance on the risks and assets of the Earth to provide the support.

Each also spoke about the power of the consumer to create a market for their products and to reduce the risks to their livelihood.

“The organic market for milk is growing,” Franklin said. “You are making very real difference for the farm families.”

Reed reminded those in hospitality and farming businesses, as well as many others in the audience the power of the economic market provided by the multi-cultural community that is growing.

“The Vermont brand is virtually unknown in the multi-cultural marketplace,” he said. “We are trying to market to a shrinking market, the white male’s family.”

By limiting the market, the risks taken by businesses are increasing and the success is more limited.

Kinder, who spoke mostly about the finance and Wall Street definitions of the five terms, reminded the audience that it is not only people from different areas of society that use the terms differently, but also members of the finance industry.

“Words have very different meanings across cultures,” Kinder said. “Don’t assume there is a common definition.”

Martenson, who writes about business, said he is in the business of talking about changes and the history of the changes. He said the world is in the process of major changes right now as we make a shift from society that has agreed on the concept of wealth and is now re-evaluating the premise of it.

Money is a social contract that is only worth what society says it is and only has true value if there is prosperity from the Earth, he said.

Martenson said he proscribes to the ideas that primary wealth is from the Earth, and secondary wealth comes from the marketplace that sells the materials of the products of the Earth; and the third type of wealth is tertiary wealth.

–Caitlyn Kelleher