Painter Haley Mellin and her brother, Joe Mellin, began thinking about environmental conservation at a young age. Their approach is rooted in their Bay Area upbringing: Their father, Bob, encouraged them to spend time outdoors and volunteer weekly to environmental causes, fostering a love of nature that has led the Mellins, in recent years, to develop a new way for everyday people to get involved with land conservation — typically the mein of large, highly moneyed individuals or organizations. The siblings developed Conserve.org as a platform for crowd-sourced land conservation; people can conserve land acre by acre, with their full donation going to purchase acreage, accessible at under $50 an acre.
The Mellins have an efficient divide-and-conquer strategy in dealing with this philanthropic enterprise. Joe, who works as a Program Manager for Microsoft and has built quite a few tech companies, lends his technical expertise, while Haley, who has extensive experience with fine-art fundraising and networking, spearheads the conservation side, both logistically and through fundraising via an art-to-acres program.
The platform’s test case was in the High Oregon Desert with the Oregon Desert Land Trust, and the pair is currently launching a campaign for a cloud forest in Guatemala with Global Wildlife Conservation. Hyperallergic interviewed the Mellins by email, where they explained more about their vision and the means by which the they have conveyed art to acreage through Conserve.org.
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Image: Burma Rim, Oregon. Photo by Renee Patrick, courtesy of Conserve.org