Frequently Asked Questions About Phoenix Zones Initiative

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What are Phoenix Zones?

Through respect for liberty and sovereignty, a commitment to love, tolerance, justice, and opportunity, and a belief that each individual possesses dignity, Phoenix Zones foster what’s known in medical circles as the Phoenix Effect—wherein individuals can rise from the proverbial ashes and thrive. The Phoenix Effect and Phoenix Zones are metaphors for how we as a society can rise up and move forward.

Why does the Phoenix Zones Initiative focus on human and animal rights, health, and wellbeing?

There are strong, evidence-based links between human and animal rights, health, and wellbeing. These links are increasingly recognized by health professionals, scientists, and policymakers. Connections between the suffering of people and animals are fueled by what is called structural violence—unjust systems that trickle down to the individual.

Structural violence is made possible by social, cultural, political, economic, and legal systems that violate the rights of people and animals. Examples include the disproportionate mass incarceration of people of color, xenophobic patterns that increase the risk for hate crimes against immigrants, cultural traditions that lead to sexual and gender-based violence, and existing economic paradigms that discount the intrinsic value of individuals. In each of these cases, large-scale social forces and institutions can cause illness and death by preventing individuals from meeting their inherent needs, resulting in suffering at individual and population-based levels.

Despite established connections between the health and wellbeing of people and animals, far less attention has focused on how the treatment of animals in society constitutes and contributes to structural violence. However, increasingly, there is a recognition that norms, economic decisions, and laws which allow for the creation of suffering in animals also represent a form of structural violence that can harm both animals and people. For example, animal cruelty is a red flag for family violence, and it can be a gateway to homicide. Historians, sociologists, and medical professionals have articulated the correlation between the abusive treatment of animals and the adverse treatment of human beings in society. Increasingly, scholars also demonstrate connections between such prejudices as racism, sexism, classism, ethnocentrism, heterosexism, ableism, and speciesism.

Ultimately, interpersonal and structural violence against people and animals violate the same life-sustaining principles—respect for dignity, liberty, sovereignty, love and tolerance, justice, and opportunity. In contrast, the Phoenix Zones Initiative advances these principles throughout social, economic, medical, and other systems, thereby promoting health and wellbeing.

Please reach out if you are interested in learning more.

How is the Phoenix Zones Initiative different from other organizations?

We are the only organization working explicitly to advance both human and animal rights.

Today, some organizations are beginning to focus on connections between the health of people and animals. However, we go further by working to dismantle the systemic forces fueling structural violence and by focusing on the important nexus between individual rights, health, and wellbeing.

The Phoenix Zones Initiative is unique in that it provides a different view of human and animal rights—specifically that they are intimately linked and that there is a deep connection between rights and health for both people and animals. Through social innovation and adaptive leadership, we reach across imagined boundaries to revolutionize how human and animal rights are perceived and advanced, foster key alliances, and redefine and solve major problems hurting people and animals across the globe.

Why and how does the Phoenix Zones Initiative take on such big problems?

Our mission is intentionally broad and ambitious. Many people and animals are suffering around the world. They are deprived of living freely and thriving. There are many efforts to address these injustices, but they often occur in silos and they may provide only partial solutions. Despite strides in some areas, the full road to securing human and animal rights is still quite long. Activists working on behalf of people and animals still wage many of the same battles advocates have been waging for centuries if not millennia. Today, we can and must dream bigger and plan on a scale commensurate with what is at stake—for people and animals.

We strive to address seemingly intractable social challenges in the most strategic ways possible, in order to create the most meaningful and exponential impact imaginable. We work in direct response to structural violence—systemic contributors to vulnerability and suffering. Structural violence has not emerged spontaneously. It has been deliberate, directed, divisive, and far-reaching. Addressing systemic contributors to suffering must also be intentional, inclusive, proactive, and comprehensive. Serious, frank, and respectful dialogue, accompanied by flexible leadership, innovative problem solving, directed research and analysis, strategic communication, coalition building, and corresponding action can help change hearts and minds, and ultimately improve policies and practices that are uniformly beneficial to all people and animals.

If you are interested in being a partner or funder and would like to learn more about our short-term goals and long-term strategic plan, please reach out.

Where does the Phoenix Zones Initiative work?

We work with partners all around the world. We aim to build bridges instead of silos and to help bring phenomenal solutions to scale. Through formal and informal alliances, we can work together to catalyze more rapid progress for people and animals.

Who can join?

Anyone who cares about advancing the rights, health, and wellbeing of people and animals can join. We aim to fuel a Phoenix Zones Movement—structural change and resilience. Together, we can take on some of the greatest challenges of our time.