An interview with John Bloom, General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America

Hawthorne Valley is pleased to announce the release of Episode 6 of its 50th Anniversary “Roots to Renewal” podcast. In this episode, Hawthorne Valley’s Executive Director Martin Ping enjoys a wide ranging conversation with John Bloom, General Secretary of The Anthroposophical Society in America and former Vice President of Organizational Culture at RSF Social Finance, about the role of money and philanthropy in the creative process, and how money can serve human destiny and foster creativity.

John says: “Economics hates inefficiency. If you really think about it, everything in economics, in market economics anyway, is geared toward how do we make it more productive? So we’ll reduce everything to commodities because it’s more efficient. And the creative processes are intentionally

John Bloom

completely inefficient. Not that they’re not productive and innovations and breakthroughs come in that space, but you cannot link efficiency in innovation…So the real question is how do we free up capital that frees up…the time where all of that chaos can happen, and all of that creativity can happen, and failures can happen? We’re so outcomes based, we can’t handle the notion of failure, but that’s where we all learn.”

“…you cannot link efficiency in innovation…So the real question is how do we free up capital that frees up…the time where all of that chaos can happen, and all of that creativity can happen, and failures can happen? We’re so outcomes based, we can’t handle the notion of failure, but that’s where we all learn.”

As part of the conversation, Bloom also speaks about Free Columbia, an artistic and social change initiative based in Philmont, NY. Their pedagogy is inspired by contemplative inquiry, aesthetic education, and action research. This now independent 501c3 organization was incubated at Hawthorne Valley for many years.

Since 2016, Bloom has been the general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America. He serves as a spokesperson for the society and country representative in the international movement. He also served for more than 20 years as vice president for organizational culture of RSF Social Finance in San Francisco, retiring at the end of 2020. As part of his work at RSF, John developed and facilitated conversations and programs that address the intersection of money and spirit and personal and social transformation. He wrote frequently for RSF’s “Reimagining Money” blog and has fostered collaborative dialogues on the challenging social aspects of money. As part of his work, he has helped developed awareness of issues surrounding land and biodynamic agriculture across the US. He has written extensively on many aspects of charitable organizations, associative economics and the topics of money and philanthropy, including the books, The Genius of Money: Essays and Interviews Re-Imagining the Financial World and Inhabiting Interdependence: Being in the Next Economy. John lives in San Francisco.

To mark Hawthorne Valley’s 50th Anniversary, the Roots to Renewal podcast tells not just our story but the stories of our friends and contemporaries from around the world who dedicate their lives to meeting the ecological, social, and spiritual needs of our times. In the next six months, more voices from within Hawthorne Valley will also be featured. For more information and to access the podcast, visit our website, or listen wherever you get your podcast. Hawthorne Valley is grateful to Tierra Farm for their support of the podcast series, and to Grammy Award winning artist Aaron Dessner for providing the music.