Park Foundation Takes Body Slam of an Op-ed over Opposition to Natural Gas Drilling

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April 27, 2012; Source: Star-Gazette

What do foundations encounter when they engage in advocacy? Advocacy puts foundations in the scrum of competing viewpoints, and they have to be prepared for blowback from the interests that don’t care for the foundations’ perspectives and input.

This op-ed from two members of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) rips the Ithaca-based Park Foundation for its activism against natural gas development in New York State. The authors had previously met with the Foundation, looking for support on what they refer to as the Coalition’s work on “best practices in natural gas development.”

Apparently, the foundation representatives, while cordial, told the JLCNY people “some things that stung like ice cold water poured down your back.” The conversation was a “nonstarter,” they said. To the JLCNY members, “the true targets of the Park Foundation are the people in the Marcellus Shale communities of upstate New York.”

In a particularly pointed paragraph in the op-ed, the JLCNY president and board member write, “Since that meeting, we’ve noted artificial opposition from time to time…Every time we researched an opposition campaign, inevitably the trail back led to a Park Foundation grant.”  Perhaps with an eye to the current debates on the nation’s wealth divide, they wrote, “Foundation officials explained that their wealthy patrons were reticent to allow their pristine land to be affected by drilling rigs. We replied by telling them we had thousands of farmers who shared the same affection for their land…(and) how the farmers were at risk of losing it all to high taxes and costs hitting up against record low profits—and that these farmers wouldn’t allow their farms to be developed unless drilling could be done safely. Noting that they understood the plight of farmers, they replied, ‘We are aware there will be collateral damage from stopping natural gas development.’”

Advocacy on public issues takes foundations into the public arena. They have to be prepared for body slams like this op-ed and develop a thick skin, much like politicians do, so that the blowback from the opposition doesn’t scare them out of the advocacy arena.—Rick Cohen

  • virtuallyme

    “they have to be prepared for blowback from the interests that don’t care for the foundations’ perspectives and input”

    are you fracKing kidding me? We landowners are not interests, WE ARE THE PEOPLE! We have lived here for generations!
    Why the he!! is the Park Foundation ‘good deed doing’ for our own good?
    We have capably stewarded our land for centuries very well without them.
    Who the he!! is the Park Foundation to usurp MY property rights and threaten MY family’s future?

    Clinton told a conference on South Sudan that the new country must avoid the “natural resource curse”
    that ends with a small elite hoarding all the wealth:

    “South Sudan defied the odds simply by being born,” Clinton said. “We know that [the oil] will either help your country finance its own path out of poverty, or you will fall prey to the natural resource curse, which will enrich a small elite, outside interests, corporations and countries, and leave your people hardly better off than when you started.”

    The gas belongs to the person that owns the land when the gas is discovered and producible!

    NOT to the thieves that STALL until miraculously THEY now own the resource!
    Why don’t these NIMBYs admit that is EXACTLY what THEY are doing to upstate NY landowners?
    They would rally against this being done to any other group of oppressed people!

    Obstructionist HYPOCRITES!
    If it ok for you to use it, it should be ok for me to harvest it!
    And NO, we DO NOT need Park looking out for us, nor any other ‘philanthropic’ agendas

  • Susan Dorsey

    your guidelines did not specify real name or screen name.
    I sent my last comment 2 hours ago with my screen name. After I hit send it appeared on my screen. I just returned to the article and find that it has been removed. Kindly repost using my real name. Thank you.