Interview: Ben Stone, of the Phoenix Conservancy

On Sunday, January 22nd, HardFast Media was fortunate enough to interview Ben Stone, one of the directors and founders of the Phoenix Conservancy, a new nonprofit organization formed with the goal of conservation of biodiversity and land quality, in the Palouse area of Washington State.

Here is a transcript of our interview with Director Stone:

Q: What is the mission statement or overall purpose of the organization?
A: Our goal is to encourage biodiversity, and make conservation a main goal for all humans, bringing it to the front of the discussion in a non-partisan way. We think that conservation is something that really affects people in a meaningful way, and hope to encourage others to see that.

Q: What are your goals for the organization within 10 years? In other words, what kind of long-term projects or goals does the organization work towards that it hopes to succeed or make progress at, within 10 years?
A: We are trying to acquire as much land as possible (hopefully 250,000 acres in 10 years) to preserve and conserve the animal and plant life, and promote biodiversity in the area - the diversity of animals and plants which help create a healthy, balanced ecosystem.

Q: How many people are volunteering or donating to the charity?
A: 15 people are employees/interns/volunteers, in other words workers involved with the company directly.

Q: What is your role/title?
A: Director/founder; I was one of the first people involved in the organization, and so I do a bit of managing for everything in the organization.

Q: How old is the organization currently?
A: We incorporated in September 2016, and our nonprofit 501(c)(3) certification was approved on January 3rd.

Q: Where are you based?
A: In Pullman, WA; all of the founders and interns are either graduates of Washington State University, or current WSU students. Being in the Palouse area is a big advantage for us because of the 2 universities between us (Washington State University, and University of Idaho), and the rich history of agriculture in the area.

Q: What was the motivation originally?
A: It was originally an idea between 2 of the board members, who had already started another company together, and their plan was originally to use the profits from that corporation to fund a nonprofit for conservation. I started working with them about a year ago.

Q: Was the 501(c)(3) certification difficult to get?
A: It was, because the government needs to make sure they are eligible to be tax exempt, so there is a lot of paperwork involved and it takes time for it all to get processed.

Q: What are some challenges you personally are facing as a director?
A: Definitely every project that we're looking for is it's own unique challenge, and there's really no one-size-fits-all approach to what we're doing. Every individual process needs a special look at what it's doing, we can't find one piece of land and do the same thing forever with it, we have to look at the history of the land, look at how the land is used in the region and what it means to it's inhabitants, and how to responsibly use it for the wildlife and the people that it effects.

Q: Does it take a lot of your time to perform the duties of a director in the organization?
A: It does - all my spare time. Before I graduated it was a hassle with all the classwork, it took up most of my free time to manage.

Q: What would you like to say to the audience reading this?
A: I'd like to say that conservation is able to be accomplished, and the sort of doom-and-gloom of any media story, that we are all completely screwed, is not completely true. There are ways to benefit humans and the environment and work these two things together, and they've been accomplished in other places in the world such as Africa and South America. Convincing the people who are on the fence, who kind of care but don't feel they can make a difference for example, means convincing them that they do matter, and that it takes individuals to make the difference we're looking for. They can make a difference in the smallest ways locally, but it does make a difference.

Q: Where can people go to help you?
A: We're on all social media platforms, but most active on Facebook - search Phoenix Conservancy - and has donation pages as well. We are updating the website constantly, and expanding it as quickly as possible. It is important to tune in over the next few weeks, as we plan a launch event for fundraising, and details will be posted on social media for people to see.

HardFast Media is happy to have interviewed Director Stone and hopes that the Phoenix Conservancy achieves it's goals of biodiversity and preservation of ecology in the Palouse area.


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