Decision Process for the Dennis Farm

Post contributed by George Stark – Director, External Affairs

The focus of this post is to discuss with Madame Denise Dennis and her decision to lease her homestead, the Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust, to Cabot. Specifically, to take a look at what she learned in the process, why she came to the decision to lease her land, and what advice she may have for similar Trust or Historical Sites weighing the same options.

But before we understand her decision, we must first talk about her early views on the natural gas industry and where she started her journey.

Often termed an anti-fracker, M. Dennis would more-so describe herself as someone in search of facts and science. While her early notions came from those opposed to drilling, she began to conduct additional outreach to gain more information. She called friends and neighbors and talked with individuals with an academic background from universities around the area. Once she had a more full appreciation of the entire picture, she approached members of the natural gas industry to learn more from us directly.

During these discussions with industry, she began to understand the involvement and investment of the companies and their personnel. And it was from these interactions that she gained an appreciation of the professionalism of the employees and the details of how the companies operate.

One major piece of her educational process came when she saw and appreciated how the industry partners with its landowners. M. Dennis was able to observe firsthand the processes used by the industry to respect both the landowners and their land.

During these conversations, M. Dennis was able to state and explain her legacy and mission. She was able to describe her needs and desires for her homestead while looking into the eyes of individuals she was considering partnering with. She was able to ensure that her values and convictions were both understood and respected. By sitting down, neighbor to neighbor, partner to partner, each side was able to develop a common understanding of the importance of the other’s policies and practices as well as values and passions.

For trusts or historical sites considering leasing land to the natural gas industry, M. Dennis emphasizes that two things are imperative: thorough research of the process and conversations between the potential partners.

She often talks about having her eyes wide open throughout the process, and not being naive or complacent while doing her research. Her main point is that taking any information at face value can be detrimental to a complete understanding of the process. All research should be conducted carefully and with an aim to avoid zealotry either for or against the industry.

She suggests to others who are in a similar situation to become fully educated which means understanding both the process and meeting with the potential partner. Express your needs and outline your concerns as you work towards a realistic and practical solution. By doing so, you will protect and educate yourself while developing a good neighbor partnership –  one where both  look out for one other.

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Brittany Ramos

Brittany was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended Pennsylvania State University where she earned degrees in Public Relations and Psychology. She recently earned her Masters in Sociology from Sam Houston State University. Brittany works in the External Affairs for Cabot where she manages communications and outreach projects to community members, elected officials, media and online supporters.

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