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.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Military Voices: Helping Veterans Come Home

Jordanna and Tom SmithTom Smith shouldn’t be alive. In Vietnam, he was a 1st Cavalry Division helicopter scout pilot. Helicopter pilots, especially scout pilots, flew through the heaviest enemy fire of the war. Cavalry Division scout pilots were hit hardest. Their attrition rates were twenty times that of U.S. Air Force pilots, their survival rate, forty to fifty percent, their life expectancy, three weeks. Tom’s job was to fly at speeds under 30 miles an hour at treetop level locating enemy, usually by drawing their fire.

It took Smith a long time to realize he lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition brought on, he shares with me, not so much by horrific combat experience –being shot down multiple times, trees snapping his coptor’s rotors off as it plunged earthward, looking down at gunmen whose bullets ripped through his fuselage — but rather, by living with the daily grind of fear. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Community Gardens: How Did Your Garden Grow?

Gardeners diningHow did your garden grow? In Keene, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Paul Smiths, Minerva, Bolton Landing, and an increasing number of other Adirondack villages and hamlets residents are coming together to create community gardens. Keene has a very rugged landscape and many residents simply do not have relatively flat and sunny backyards for individual gardens, but the hamlet does own a large flat field where its airport, farmer’s market, and various community festivals are based.

Several years ago under the leadership of Jim Herman and Dave Mason, and with support of the town board, most especially Paul Martin, a plot of land was set aside near the community-owed Holt House, tilled, and laid out to form eight foot by eight foot plots that were made available for individuals to rent for a modest fee while being given the option of renting more than one on a space available basis. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Picasso Bucks: The Dark Horse Challenge

Michael, Tieke, Chelsea“Picasso bucks?” said Chris Irwin.

“Picasso bolts,” said his owner Emmy Pavelka. “Whenever anyone tries to get on to ride him, he bolts.”

First though, Chris Irwin, Canada’s and one of the world’s foremost horse whisperers, had to contend with the horse Concert Pianist, who had not been ridden in three years. The horses were in Lesley and John Trevor’s Snowslip Farms barn on River Road in Lake Placid in response to a “Dark Horse Challenge” proposed by the Trevors: nominate your most challenging horse so that Irwin can demonstrate how even such a difficult animal can be reached and, doing so, show us how they can help us become better leaders. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Future Generations: Creating Champions for Peace

HeidiKrestser Santosh Dahal“This is my hope for the future,” said Karen Edwards of Paul Smith College, who in her spare times serves as the director of admissions for the Future Generations Graduate School. “When I work with these students I can truly be hopeful that we can work together to solve the challenges facing humanity and our world.”

In light of the loggerheads taking place in Congress, the societal challenges throughout the Middle East, the struggle between environmentalists and big oil advocates over such disputes as the proposed Keystone pipeline between the Canadian tar sands and the United States, the increasing economic disparity in between the 1 percent and everyone else, that is no small hope. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Correction: Two Sides of Prison Life

Martha Joe Russell YusefJoe Hackett has spent time in prison. Yes, the well known local guide, columnist, and scout for Seventh Avenue has spent years in jail, not as a inmate, but as a recreation coordinator at Camp Gabriels, a former New York State Minimum Security prison shuttered a few years ago by the state.

Once a tuberculosis sanatorium, the 92-acre facility was sold to the state in 1982, which operated it as a 336 bed-prison until 2009. There many of the prisoners worked on forestry and community service-related, projects, yet not-withstanding, it was prison far, far from home and family for the men housed there. For them the “Dacks” was a cold, hostile and distant place.

The prison was built, as were most in the North Country, as an outcome of the ‘War of Drugs’ and in particular Rockefeller Drugs laws that resulted in mass incarceration and a resultant building boom here because most urban and suburban voters did not want prisons located in ‘their back yards.’ Under the leadership of the late Senator Ron Stafford, such projects were welcomed for the many solid salaries they offered and, as a result, New York Corrections is the largest employer in the North Country.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Ballerina in the Adirondacks: Ainana’s Great Adventure

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the lesser-known cultural jewels of our region is the Lake Placid School of Ballet. They offer their participants the kind of attention not often found elsewhere, but, if one thinks about it, is a hallmark of Lake Placid’s ability to churn out so many Olympic and World Cup champions across so many disciplines.

Lake Placid’s arts community provides an extra level of personal attention to budding artistic talents in equal measure to those in sports, and few better provide that level of coaching in any endeavor than Terpsie Toon and her talented roster of faculty assisted by the Arts Center staff. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Renewing the Two Row Wampum

Leaders w Anrust_b“We need a global solution. We need to set aside our differences. Our leaders are not paying attention. Washington is filled with millionaires. What the hell do they care? They are out of touch. We are losing time. Now is the time for people to come together and act to protect and heal our environment. If we do not act now no matter what we do it will be too late.” said Oren Lyons, a member of the National Council of Chiefs and the Faith Keeper of the Onondaga, standing on the shores of the Hudson River on a overcast Sunday morning to the hundreds of people gathered.

Four hundred years ago the Dutch and the Iroquois, the Haunensaunee or the “People of the Long House”, the league of five nations of indigenous people known as the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca, made an agreement to live and trade in harmony, and to respect and care for the natural environment, an agreement symbolized by a two row wampum belt. » Continue Reading.


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