Tag: Environmental Film Festival

An update on Beyond Dollars: When Mickey Came to Town

In 2009, WRAG published Beyond Dollars: Investing in Big Change, presenting a series of case studies of the grantmaking initiatives in the region that were creating lasting impact through their ability to build partnerships, leverage key resources, and capitalize on timing and momentum. Later, in 2013 WRAG published a progress report, further exploring the impact that philanthropic investments make on the lives of people who live in our region. One of the report’s featured stories focused on how The Prince Charitable Trusts helped to protect a cultural and environmental asset in Virginia. Today, we bring you the latest update on those efforts from Kristin Pauly, former managing director of The Prince Charitable Trusts. 

by Kristin Pauly
Former Managing Director, The Prince Charitable Trusts

This story begins in 1993, when The Walt Disney Company unveiled plans for a new theme park in Haymarket, Virginia near some of the most significant battlefields of the Civil War. Against a 75 percent public approval rating, a small team of philanthropists and local residents joined forces and mounted a campaign to convince Disney that siting their “American History” theme park in these rural and sacred lands was a bad idea.

Last month, the Environmental Film Festival premiered the documentary, When Mickey Came to Town. While the film documents the campaign in opposition to the Disney site, there is another, equally-inspiring story about the long-lasting impact that is possible when philanthropists go beyond dollars.

The Prince Charitable Trusts were by no means the central players in the campaign, yet the trustees and staff were active and engaged participants. They were inspired by the outcome and changed by the experience.

In the ensuing 22 years, the Trusts have continued to provide relatively small grants – often in the form of general operating support – to the organizations and initiatives that have committed themselves to protecting the very qualities that a Disney theme park threatened to destroy: a healthy environment, social equity, and celebrating and preserving a unique cultural legacy of this region. It has been a form of “engaged philanthropy” that has proven effective in a variety of ways.

All this has been made possible because the victory left people in the region with a sense of hope. As Chris Miller, executive director of the Piedmont Environmental Council, said on the 20-year anniversary of the fight, “It was a big fight and a good fight – a fight made possible by a long list of wonderful and talented people. Our coalition included some of the best organizations and thinkers in conservation, historic preservation, and sound land use planning – and we showed the entire nation that a grassroots movement is capable of taking on the Goliaths of the world, like The Walt Disney Company.”

Among the long-lasting impacts of the campaign are:

  • The Piedmont Environmental Council itself has grown to become an effective community-based conservation organization. Its work has helped permanently protect more than 370,000 acres of land in the Virginia Piedmont.
  • The launch of The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the unparalleled American heritage found in the 180-mile long, 75-mile wide area stretching from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville. In 2008 Congress recognized the Journey Through Hallowed Ground as a National Heritage Area. The Journey was featured in WRAG’s 2009 publication, Beyond Dollars, as an example of “a visionary partnership” and an example of how any foundation can have an impact by becoming engaged in a cause and pursuing a vision.
  • The impetus that catalyzed the smart growth movement in the D.C. metropolitan area, and the creation of The Coalition for Smarter Growth to promote reinvestment in existing communities and walkable neighborhoods connected by transit-oriented development.

In 1993, I was director of Urban and Metropolitan Programs at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. I played a small role in encouraging the Bay Foundation to take a stand on the campaign, and in the process came to know the staff of the Trusts. This led to my being hired as the managing director of The Prince Charitable Trusts two years later.

In the past 22 years The Prince Charitable Trusts have supported – and to some extent helped shape – a multitude of activities needed to permanently protect both the land and the culture that were in danger of being lost. It has taken a lot longer to shape this agenda than it did to defeat “Disney’s America,” and not all the battles were won. But I believe the result is impressive: a stronger sense of community, stronger leaders and institutions, and inspiring stories to share with future generations. And I believe that in this case, philanthropy has made a difference – both with dollars and beyond.

Moving on too soon?

In part two of their in-depth series on housing for HIV-positive residents in D.C., Washington City Paper explores how, after years of major federal and philanthropic funding to support successful initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS in the District, many of those sources are beginning to move toward funding other urgent causes with the false belief that the problem has been solved (WCP, 3/4):

Altogether, the slowed trickle of public and private funds out of the city has spurred concern among advocates and city officials alike. They worry that decreasing funds for HIV initiatives will sacrifice the progress that’s already been made, and that the cuts will take effect just as D.C. hits its stride in patient care.

Channing Wickham, executive director of Washington AIDS Partnership (WAP), who is quoted throughout the article due to WAP’s continued leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the District, had this to say:

I look forward to the day when the Washington AIDS Partnership can close its doors and declare victory. Until then, I appreciate the local and national funders who participate in our funding collaborative, and encourage funders who haven’t gotten involved or who have moved on to join in our life-saving work.”

– In her latest blog post, WRAG president Tamara Lucas Copeland further explores the challenges many social profit organizations face when funders decrease giving in a particular issue area. (Daily, 3/7)

HOUSING | The Region Forward Coalition shares details of their first meeting of the year, at which WRAG vice president Gretchen Greiner-Lott presented Our Region, Your Investment, alongside Enterprise Community Loan Fund, as a part of the solution to the Greater Washington region’s affordable housing crisis. (Region Forward, 3/2)

FOOD/ENVIRONMENT | On Saturday, March 19 at American University, Farming for the Future will debut new films at this year’s D.C. Environmental Film Festival. Three of the films were done by the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University, with grant support from the D.C. office of Prince Charitable Trusts. The films include the premiere of The Culture of Collards, featuring culinary historian Michael Twitty; Gail Taylor, owner of Three Part Harmony Farm in Northeast D.C.; and Lola Bloom, Rebecca Lemos, and young people from City Blossoms, an urban farm/youth agricultural program in D.C. Reservations are requested to this popular event. Click here for additional information and to RSVP.

EDUCATION | A new documentary debuting this month, Southeast 67, follows the stories of 67 students from the District’s Anacostia neighborhood who were offered free college tuition as seventh-graders in 1988. Stewart Bainum, Sr.  and Eugene Lang (trustee of the Eugene M. Lang Foundation) were instrumental in establishing the program, as part of the I Have a Dream Foundation. (WaPo, 3/6)

HOMELESSNESS/DISTRICT | In Georgetown, the homeless can be hidden amid the million-dollar homes (WaPo, 3/6)

TRANSIT/MARYLAND | Here’s a look at what may be in store for the forthcoming Purple Line. (WTOP, 3/4)

ARTS | Before Smithsonian’s opening, smaller African American museums grapple with a behemoth in D.C. (WaPo, 3/2)

– The Coalition for Smarter Growth has an opening for a Development Manager.

– Flamboyan Foundation is seeking a Program Assistant.

A reporter once declared this the worst place to live in America. Now, he’s moving there.

– Ciara

Advancing corporate support for arts and culture

ARTS/CSR | A new report from Americans for the Arts details how companies engage arts and culture to advance their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate community involvement (CCI) goals. Kaiser Permanente‘s Educational Theatre Program and Boeing‘s innovative work in Seattle are named as leading examples of these efforts. (Animating Democracy, 3/2015)

To what extent have corporations engaged and supported arts and culture toward their CSR/CCI goals? A scan of recent reports on corporate funding patterns and trends, as well as observations from field leaders and interviewees, suggest a challenging corporate funding terrain for the arts and culture sector even though arts and culture appear to be well positioned to serve both philanthropic goals and business objectives. As the slow economic recovery continues to dampen corporate profits, more corporations are shifting their traditional and purely philanthropic charitable giving programs to focus more strategically and specifically on issues that align with their business interests and have a positive social impact—whether national or global—on their consumers or the communities in which they do business.

PHILANTHROPY | More and more grantmakers are committing to “get on the map.” Find out why the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region is excited about the interactive mapping tool and sharing their grants data with colleagues. (Daily, 3/16)

– Opinion: In the wake of a growing number of tragic events that question the notion of racial justice in America, many foundation leaders wonder what they can do to promote greater equity. Citing examples from the Association of Black Foundation Executives and the Hill-Snowdon Foundation, Aaron Dorfman of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy provides a few recommendations for a good starting place. (Chronicle, 3/13)

– Dr. Gail Christopher, Vice President for Program Strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, shares how popular culture can reflect reality and propel it forward, including some story lines from some of the most addicting television shows today. (HuffPo, 3/15)

– On Saturday, March 28 at 6:00 PM, Prince Charitable Trusts, in collaboration with the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University, will hold a screening of four short films on the ways in which communities and farmers expand practices and traditions to preserve farmland and meet demands for sustainable, locally-grown food while also ensuring their career remains profitable. The session, titled Farming for the Future – Enduring Traditions, Innovative Practices, features two films – Farming for the Future and 50 Years of Farming: For Love & Vegetables – that were supported by grants from Prince Charitable Trusts and filmed in Northern Virginia by the Center for Environmental Filmmaking. Growing Legacy features the Maryland Agricultural Reserve in Montgomery County. A panel discussion will follow the screenings.

The ‘greenest’ school building in the world is in Washington (WaPo, 3/12)

– Take note, D.C. In Jackson, Wyoming a small piece of land next to a vacant parking lot will be transformed into one of the world’s only vertical farms. (Fast Company, 2/23)

MENTAL HEALTH | Booz Allen Hamilton is leading the charge to change how mental health, illness, and wellness are viewed in America. As a founding member of the national initiative The Campaign to Change Direction, Booz Allen will educate 11,000 employees over the next five years on the signs and symptoms of emotional health issues. (Booz Allen Hamilton, 3/4)

HOMELESSNESS | The District anticipated a 16 percent rise in homeless families seeking shelter this winter, up 840 from 723 during the 2013-2014 season. The number this year, however, rose to an estimated 897 families who sought shelter this winter. (WCP, 3/12)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | A big boom in the development of high-end apartments in the region has made the market more favorable for renters. While the surplus has meant lower rents and greater perks for more affluent renters, the benefits have not yet trickled down to lower-income renters. (WaPo, 3/15)

 Businesses don’t just want you to see their marketing efforts…they want you to smell them, too.

– Ciara