Almanack Contributor Naj Wikoff

Naj Wikoff

Naj Wikoff is an artist who founded Creative Healing Connections, the Lake Placid Institute, and co-founded the Adirondack Film Society-Lake Placid Film Forum.

A two-time Fulbright Senior Scholar, Wikoff has served as president of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, director of arts and healing at the C. Everett Koop Institute, Dartmouth Medical School, and director of Arts and Productions for the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

Wikoff also covers Adirondack community culture events for the Lake Placid News.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Nature’s Benefits: Adirondack Forest Bathing

Hellene Gibbons & Jess CollinsHave you heard of Forest Bathing? It’s the literal translation of a program developed in Japan for experiencing nature as a means of de-stressing one’s life. I first learned about it in a 2012 Outside Magazine article titled “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning.”

The relaxing benefits of nature have been known for thousands of years, the Greek physician Galen used to take his patients outside where they could experience nature as part of their healing process. He felt that it helped stimulate their desire to get better, and famed Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale who went on to found the Leeds Infirmary once wrote about the healing benefits of patients seeing flowers. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Adirondack Diversity: The Challenges and Opportunities (Part 2)

adk diversity advisory council logoThis is the part two of our report on the issues raised at the recent Adirondack Diversity Symposium. Part one can be found here.

One aspect of making the Adirondacks more welcoming is in how we treat people; do we provide all who come here the kind of welcoming experience we’d desire if we were traveling abroad or to differing parts of our country?

Another aspect has to do with how we expect others to live. We here in the Adirondacks love access to clean air, fresh water, and the wilderness experience. However, economics and race can temper that experience for many. Economics have a lot to do with where we live. The wealthy are taking over such locales as living on a lake, a lot with a spectacular view, and increasingly hamlet centers. The St. Regis lakes are, for all purposes, a gated community, and Lake Placid lake is all but the same. Try just renting a boat slip for the summer. Can you believe $3,800? When I was a boy, a fair number of middle-class families had camps on the lake, now a handful remain. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Making The Park More Welcoming: Challenges and Opportunities

adk diversity advisory council logoImagine you’d been hired to coach a hockey or soccer camp for the summer, teach music for the Seagle Colony or figure skating at the Olympic Arena, or serve as a waiter, housekeeper, lift attendant or golf pro, as whitewater rafting or fishing guide, or one of the many other jobs that welcome visitors to our region. Imagine that you went with some of your fellow workers to a restaurant, or shopping at a store, and got harassed and verbally abused by another customer because of the color of your skin.

How would you feel if a member of the business’s staff asked you to leave, not the person being abusive, but you – the victim. What would that say about our community? What would that say about how we welcome and care for our customers and seasonal employees? » Continue Reading.


Friday, July 29, 2016

The Passing of Adirondack Guide Brett Lawrence

Brett Lawrence rowing a guideboat on Lower Ausable Lake, photo by Rebecca SoderholmAdirondack Guide Smith Brett Lawrence passed away on Thursday, June 30, every bit as much an icon of Keene, NY as Giant Mountain, Noonmark Diner, and the old red barn at the bottom of Spruce Hill (at the junction of routes 73 and 9N).

His full white beard and his red truck from which he flew the American flag gave Brett presence. He was also one of the last visages of an era that stretches back to the early days of the 19th century, and of a family that for four generations made their living as a guide and caretaker. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Seeing Stars: The Adirondack Night Sky

Night Sky of Cranberry Lake by Jessica TaboraOn a clear night stargazers can often be found at the heights of Norton Cemetery in Keene looking up.

A recent weekend provided stellar nights for gazing. Not perfect as high cirrus clouds shaded a few assets, but four great ones were clear: Jupiter and its four moons, Mercury, the Moon in its pocketed glory, and space lab whizzing by. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Making The Adirondack Park More Welcoming

ADAC LogoDisney has the most-visited theme parks in the United States. Disney’s marketing material depicts families having fun, families that represent a wide range of cultural diversity. Disney offers a lot of fun things for families to do and continuously announces new facilities, venues, and activities. Disney’s goal is to entice people to visit, and then visit again.

A multitude of diverse peoples lives less than a days drive away from the Adirondacks. In our state of 20 million, over 40 percent are people of color. They represent a huge potential audience, with over 5 million more living in the nearby states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey and in the city of Montréal. Problem is, we are not marketing to them: the images of people vacationing in the Adirondacks show a high percentage of white people. As an example, in a recent issue of Adirondack Life, the only non-white featured were musicians in a visiting band. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Unique Legacy of Lake Placid’s Old McDonald’s Farm

Old McDonald's Farm Lake PlacidOn Saturday an Adirondack Diversity Symposium will be held in Newcomb as part of an effort to make the Adirondacks more attractive to people of diverse backgrounds.

In July, one family celebrated it’s sixtieth anniversary of doing just that – introducing inner city youth to the wonders of nature and, in so doing, helping them on a path towards a healthy and rewarding future. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Celebrating An Upset Victory Fought On Snowshoes

Victors in woodsRecently a large crowd came to the Olympic Arena in Lake Placid to commemorate and celebrate the 35th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice,” the upset win of the US hockey team over the world champion Soviet team, while earlier in the day in the wintery forest outside Fort Carillon (now Ticonderoga) re-enactors captured the thrilling come-from-near-defeat victory by the French garrison over the famed Rogers Rangers. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Healing Soul Wounds At Wiawaka Holiday House

GroupThe Adirondacks have a long tradition as a place for healing, the most prominent example being the thousands who came to “take the cure” for tuberculosis at the Trudeau Sanatorium in Saranac Lake during the first half of the 20th century.

Not as well known was how the arts were used as a important part of the patients’ treatment and recovery, a process that lead to the establishment of the creative arts therapies. More recently, the benefits of arts was dramatically demonstrated when music used as a critical part of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s ability to regain her speech following her having been shot in the head during an attempted assassination January 2011. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In Upper Jay: The Running of the Cows

Swiss Brown CowCows run. Not only that they hop about, kick up their heels, and act like school kids released for their summer holiday. The occasion? Being released from living in a barn all winter and finally being able to get out into a field of fresh grass, which took place on a Sunday morning at the end of May at the Sugarhouse Creamery, a farmstead in Upper Jay that decided to create a picnic, party, and farmer’s market featuring the products of several new farms recently launched across Essex County.

“The plan is at 11:30 or so we are going to let our Brown Swiss Cows out for the first time this spring,” said Alex Eaton of their first public running of the cows. “They are all in the barn at the moment eating a little bit of hay. We are going to release them and then they will go crazy. It is the best sight in the entire year. They kick up their heels, their udders are swinging around, and these massive creatures are so playful. It’s an incredible sight.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Naj Wikoff: A Better Way to Divorce

Debra and JohnOnce in LA, I saw this middle-aged woman driving a black Porsche Carrera GT. The license plate read, “WAS HIS.”

Divorce can be nasty, expensive, and tough on the kids, families, and friends. I have friends who said they were lucky to get out still owning their golf clubs. I know people who decades later are still traumatized by a past divorce, be it their divorce or that of their parents.

A reality of living in small towns is after the divorce you still meet your ex at the art center, grocery store, post office, waiting in line to vote, or attending civic events and holiday parties, encounters made more difficult if the divorce could have been a scene out of the film “War of the Roses.” Friends are often put in an awkward position as they may care equally for you both and don’t want to take sides. The kids though, they really take the beating. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ski Jumping in Lake Placid: For the Love of Flying

Karl Schulz & Grand Pa“I really like the sensation of flying through the air,” said Will Rhoads, winner of the Art Devlin Cup. “There is nothing better than having a really good jump and having the feeling you are never going to come down.”

Rhoads was in Lake Placid for the U.S. Ski Jumping Cup, held on the 90 meter at Intervale on Wednesday, February 12 that included a Juniors and Open class. In addition, he an a number of the competitors were in the running for the Art Devlin Cup that combines the results of three meets, the US Cup, the Flaming Leaves, and the July 4th competition. The U.S. Cup was the next to last of nine meets held across the country with the final scheduled for Park City, Utah.

While the twin towers on the 90 and 120 (aka 100 HS and 134 HS) jumps in Placid remain icons of the village and the most dramatic emblem of the 1980 Games, they are sadly out of date and the 120 no longer meets FIS regulations. “Jumps are being designed flatter to make it harder to jump further,” said Blake Hughes, assistant coach for the US Ski Jumping team. “Because of changes in the equipment and the way the sport has progressed jumping here is easier than in Sochi.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

ADK’s Winterfest: Wet, But Not Washed Out

Brian Delaney 2The Adirondack Mountain Club’s Winterfest on Saturday January 11th was wet, but not washed out. While snow was in short and diminishing supply the level of enthusiasm and good cheer held firm against conditions that would dismay the most stalwart event planner. Indeed throughout New England all manner of activities were canceled in face of the fourth rainy weekend in a row that once again had highway crews on flood alert.

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and the staff of their Adirondack Loj had put together an extensive schedule of activities, most free, as a way of enticing people of all ages to come out and enjoy fun in the snow. Trips were planned up Algonquin and Mount Jo and to Avalanche Lake; Heart Lake was cleared of snow for skating and curling activities; lessons in Telemark turns, cross-country skiing, and waxing were offered; snowshoes, skates, a wide-array of back country skis, and crampons were available along with a treasure hunt, kids obstacle course, food, live music, and more. Surprisingly, in light of at times heavy rainfall, is how many of those activities took place. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

At The Bobsled Track: The Best School Day Ever

Dutch team at start“This was the best school day ever,” yelled dozens of Lake Placid Sixth Graders, waving their flags across the finish line for the day’s winners of the two-man bobsled World Cup Bobsled Competition out at Mt. Van Hoevenberg on Friday, December 13.

The bobsled coaches, athletes, and their families agreed.

“We have heard these kids out everywhere around the track,” said USA bobsled driver Cory Butner who ended the day in fourth place. “Coming up the home stretch, it felt great seeing all the kids ringing their cowbells. Hearing them scream makes us want to race harder, get better results.” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

After I Pick the Fruit: The Lives of Migrant Women

UnknownA large percentage of the farm workers who harvest New York State’s apples, potatoes, onions, and other fruits and vegetables are immigrants working long hours with no overtime pay, few benefits, low salaries, often substandard housing, and no right to collective bargaining, as those rights fought for over fifty years ago in California by Cesar Chavez were excluded from being applied here.

Illegal immigrants comprise approximately five percent of this workforce. » Continue Reading.


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