The first time I met Ben Long, he told me, with more than a hint of pride, about a right-wing radio talk jock in his hometown of Kalispell, Montana who had taken to calling him “Osama Ben Longin”. Thankfully, today both that radio show and Osama Bin Laden are gone. But Ben is still in the Flathead Valley practicing what he preaches about how to make conservation work in the vast red and purple states of the Intermountain West.
Meet people where they are.
Humans decide with their hearts, not their heads.
Who’s doing the talking is at least as important as what’s being said.
These are all Ben Long-isms that have become part of Resource Media’s DNA. That’s why all of us were so moved when the Wilburforce Foundation recognized Ben with its annual Conservation Leadership Award. Wilburforce has been a longtime champion of conservation in the Northern Rockies and a consistent supporter of Ben’s work. In making the award, Wilburforce Yellowstone to Yukon Program Officer Liz Bell said, “It’s hard to imagine what the Flathead and Northwest Montana might have been like today without Ben’s enormous talent and commitment.”
Wilburforce staff members are far from alone in recognizing Ben’s contribution.
- “Ben has an amazing ability to get right to the heart of the matter at hand. He can quickly craft a message that speaks directly to people where they are, in terms that they relate to and understand.” Heart of the Rockies Executive Director Michael Whitfield
- “Ben remains true to his core values and this radiates throughout his life and shines through in all his writings and his dealings with people. He knows that protecting the wild public land and water we cherish is not a one skirmish affair but is a long fight.” Outdoor writer and founding board member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Holly Endersby
The length of the fight…the long game as we like to call it, is something both Ben and the Wilburforce Foundation understand. As Ben himself wrote in “Bridging the Divide,” Resource Media’s 2009 guide to strategic conservation in the rural west:
“Gaining credibility and relevance is done campaign by campaign, through long, deliberate effort. That effort requires taking many small, pragmatic steps to reach the larger goals. It requires listening to the community, picking local issues and allies judiciously, giving voice to authentic spokespeople, using tactics and technologies that make sense locally, and always keeping an eye on the big picture. Credibility is difficult to gain, but very easy to lose.”
After many years on the front lines of conservation, Ben continues to gain credibility with every project he engages, which is as much a testament to his success as the landscapes he’s had a hand in protecting.
Congratulations, Ben! We’re lucky to have you on our team.