When we first moved to Rockland County in 1969, we became satisfied customers of Empire Trust, whose main branch was in Middletown, NY. Who knew it had already merged with Bank of New York in 1966?

Rain Forest Action Network (RAN) Protest in Canada 2010

It took years before the Bank of New York logo appeared on their buildings and our checks. Besides, in those days the inner workings of banks were inconsequential to me. My “banking eyes” were monitoring our check book’s modest balance. (as was its history…Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr founded Bank of New York in 1784!)

By the time I urged divestment in an unprincipled local bank (my last blog post), I was aware there were progressive community banks in the Midwest and credit unions right here in Rockland, but never considered dumping Bank of New York for a bank that reflected my values.

When JP Morgan Chase traded its corporate trusts for millions of Bank of New York’s retail banking customers in 2006, it felt like we were being consumed by a bigger bank, one soon to be labeled “too big to fail.” As the world of banking imploded, my skepticism heightened, but my banking inertia held firm.

It was only in the last few months, as I grasped the role banks play in climate change, that my desire to divest of my personal banking institution was kindled, (as has my curiosity of the extent to which financials populate my portfolio).

Denver Residents and National Allies Call on City to Divest from JPMorgan Chase Rain Forest Action Network (RAN) Photographer Jake Conroy

Afterall, in 2016 JPMorgan Chase led the “dirty” banks, investing $37.77 billion in Extreme Oil (Artic, tar sands, and ultra deep off shore drilling) representing a significant percentage of the $307 billion invested by all banks. They also lead the pack with their $30.58 billion investment in Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), again a significant part of the overall banking industry’s $283 billion.

I hope you are as psyched as I am to change our collective banking behavior, to learn whether your bank practices the same bad behavior as mine, and how to find a bank that doesn’t. I recommend you pull out your tablet or computer, pour yourself a favorite beverage and dig into Sierra Club’s article: Divesting from Dirty Banks Is a Form of Resistance. I have confidence it will change your heart and mind. Please let me know and I will let you know how my plans are shaping up.

If you want to get out there and protest dirty banks, here’s a link to Divest the Globe October 23-25 and don’t miss the video.

To read the most recent Rainforest Action Network report on banks click here.




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